Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Research to Aid Persons with Disabilities (RAPD)

The Research to Aid Persons with Disabilities (RAPD) program supports research that will lead to the development of new technologies, devices, or software for persons with disabilities. Research may be supported that is directed to the characterization, restoration, and/or substitution of human functional ability or cognition, or to the interaction of persons with disabilities and their environment.

Areas of particular recent interest are disability-related research in neuroscience/neuroengineering and rehabilitation robotics. Emphasis is placed on significant advancement of fundamental engineering and scientific knowledge and not on incremental improvements. Proposals should advance discovery or innovation beyond the frontiers of current knowledge in disability-related research. Applicants are encouraged to contact a program director prior to submitting a proposal.

Undergraduate Engineering Design Projects are also supported, especially those that provide prototype "custom-designed" devices or software for persons with disabilities. The education of undergraduate engineering students is enhanced through Undergraduate Engineering Design Projects' awards supported by the RAPD program.

Characteristics of undergraduate engineering design projects to aid persons with disabilities include:

* The primary goal of this activity is to provide a meaningful design experience for the engineering student that will directly aid a specific individual with a disability. Undergraduate student engineers or engineering technology students develop prototype "custom-designed" devices and software in this regard.

* The PI and the students work with institutions providing care or education for individuals with disabilities.

* The proposal must include a short description of ten possible design projects. These projects should be suitable for an undergraduate student, or a small team of students, to complete in about one year. The proposal should include a letter of support from an appropriate administrator of an institution providing care or education to individuals with disabilities. The letter should certify that the institution and the university will work cooperatively on the design projects.

* The PI provides an annual report that includes a description of the successfully completed design projects during the previous academic year. Each PI is expected to implement a high percentage of projects each year. It is also expected that the projects will contain appropriate levels of quantitative engineering analysis.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Glory Mission

The Glory Mission Will Increase Our Understanding of the Earth's Energy Balance
Twenty years ago, Brent Holben was part of a NASA team studying vegetation from space. In an unlikely career twist, his research morphed into the study of a critical, if overlooked, subplot in the story of climate change.

From his office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., Holben helps manage the world’s largest network of ground-based sensors for aerosols -- tiny specks of solids and liquids that waft about in the atmosphere. These particles come from both human and natural sources and can be observed everywhere in the world.

Scientists know that some of them play an outsized role in Earth’s climate. And much of that knowledge has come from the Aerosol Robotic Network, or AERONET, the collaborative, international sensor network which Holben leads.

"Aerosols play a key role in climate, and pretty much everybody who studies aerosols uses data from AERONET," said William Lau, director of the Atmospheric Sciences Division at Goddard. "Without AERONET, our understanding of the climate system simply wouldn’t be where it is today."

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Underwater Submersibles

Over the last few decades, engineers have urbanized submersible technologies capable of meeting the several challenges that the deep sea imposes ahead explorers. Using advanced submersible technologies, amazing new deep-water ecosystems have been discovered. Many of these communities were supposed not to exist in harsh environments devoid of light and under severe pressure. One such community was found in an area surrounding a hydrothermal vent, where water temperatures reach hundreds of degrees Centigrade and the water is covered in caustic sulfur. After preliminary studies, which discovered many new species and raised even more questions about these organisms, researchers declared these communities to be as complex as many found on land.

As much as we may learn about our planet's underwater habitats through the use of satellites, shipboard sensors and divers, these technologies scratch only the surface of the oceans. Submersibles alone allow us to explore the abyssal depths. This section of the Ocean Explorer Web site highlights more than a few of the major advancements in submersible equipment. These submersibles allow us to travel deeper and with a greater degree of freedom than ever before, so that we can observe, describe and ultimately explain the phenomena of life in the deep ocean kingdom.