Backtalk 3/05/2009

March 3, 2009
Dr. Steve Darwin (no relation to Charles) was crowned the 1000th Steve in the National Center for Science Education’s (NCSE) Project Steve

Steve #1000
Dr. Steve Darwin (no relation to Charles) was crowned the 1000th Steve in the National Center for Science Education’s (NCSE) Project Steve.

The project, named in honor of Stephen Jay Gould, began as a tongue-in-cheek response to creationist lists of alleged Darwindoubting scientists. Scientists named Steve (or Steven, Stephen, Stephanie, Stefan, Stefano, Etienne, Esteban, Tapani...) are encouraged to sign up and publicly support evolution to demonstrate that even among the subset of scientists named Steve, there are thousands who confirm and support the study and teaching of evolution.

Dr. Darwin is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Tulane Univ. in New Orleans as well as the director of Tulane’s herbarium, which boasts 115,000 specimens. He has authored 35 publications in the field of plant biology.

Dr. Eugene Scott, executive director of NCSE and Steve Mirsky, writer, columnist, and podcaster for Scientific American presented the award at the Improbable Research press conference, held as part of the AAAS annual meeting in Chicago. When asked what the odds were of a Darwin being named Steve #1000? “Astronomical!” says Dr. Scott.

Ode to a spell checker
Eye have a spelling chequer, It came with my Pea Sea. It plainly marques for my revue, Miss steaks aye can knot sea. Eye strike a quay and type a whirred And weight four it two say, Weather eye am wrong oar write, It shows me strait a weigh. As soon as the misses ache is maid, It nose before two long, And aye can put the error rite Its rare lea ever wrong. Eye have run this poem threw it, I am sure your pleased to no, Its letter perfect awl the weigh, My chequer tolled me sew.

Multimedia engineering exhibit
“Because Dreams Need Doing,” is an interactive multimedia exhibit designed to spark interest in engineering among elementary school children. Purdue University’s College of Engineering dedicated the exhibit, located in the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering.

The 2,000-sq-ft exhibit’s state-of-the-art media technology emphasizes the role of engineering in addressing society’s challenges. Interactive elements, special effects, video, audio and text cover health, energy, environment, and space.

The John Deere Foundation funded the exhibit with a $1 million grant. “With this exhibit, we will convey the message that engineers make a difference in the world,” said Leah Jamieson, the John A. Edwardson dean of the College of Engineing. “We hope to join the National Academy in inspiring young people to think of engineering as a career where they can realize their dreams.”

Sheet-metal fabrication
To help mechanical-engineering students gain real-world knowledge of sheet-metal fabrication, Airtronics Metal Products Inc., San Jose, has established an educational outreach program with San Jose State Univ. The program includes both in-classroom instruction and on-site tours at Airtronics’ manufacturing plant. An engineering project is also planned for early 2009 and Airtronics plans to offer select internships for eligible students.

Fred Barez, professor and chair of the Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Dept. at San Jose State Univ. says, “We welcome every opportunity for our students to gain practical, hands-on, industry-relevant skills. Sheet-metal technology is a key component of many hightech products manufactured right here in Silicon Valley.”

According to Airtronics CEO and president Jeff Burke, “Any mechanical engineer who wants to work in the (Silicon) Valley would do well to gain experience in a sheet-metal company. Knowing how material responds to various processes would be an asset on their resume.” Every chip and computer manufacturer uses sheet-metal housings, enclosures, networking chassis, subassemblies, etc., for its products.

An expansion of the program is planned for 2009 with classroom presentations, plant tours, internship opportunities, and even a design project.

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