Sunday, May 25, 2014

Two FSU students among elite crop of aerospace-related scholarship winners

Two Florida State University graduate students are among the 35 women chosen from across the globe for Zonta International’s Amelia Earhart Fellowship that supports women pursuing advanced studies in aerospace-related sciences. Puja Upadhyay, a mechanical engineering doctoral student, and Jin Yan, an industrial and manufacturing engineering doctoral student, both won $10,000 offered by Zonta International, a global organization working to advance the status of women and girls. It is the first time two FSU students have received the award.

“It was a bit of a surprise,” says Wendy Grey, president of the Tallahassee chapter of Zonta International.  “But, we’re so excited to see two local women receive this award, and it shows how much women in the sciences are doing at FSU.”

The award winners are from universities across the globe, and the winners represent 20 different countries. Upadhyay is originally from Nepal, and Yan is from China. Yan said she will use the money to help support her research in aerospace-related structural health monitoring systems.

Upadhyay’s research focuses on flow field studies of commercial aircraft, specifically looking at ways to improve noise control mechanisms for aircrafts. The Amelia Earhart Fellowship will help her pay for tuition and fees, books, and other supplies, she says. “The number of women in aerospace-related fields, specially engineering, have always been sparse,” she remarks. “This recognition and financial support from Zonta International is indeed a great encouragement. It has not only inspired me to work harder but has allowed me to focus more on my research with less financial burden.”

Florida A&M University–Florida State University College of Engineering Dean Yaw Yeboah says he was “thrilled” to see Zonta recognizing two of the college’s graduate students. “One special mission of the college is to graduate women in engineering fields of study, and we are glad to see that Zonta is working to assist women in obtaining aerospace and related engineering degrees,” he states.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

National Society of Black Engineers selects Karl Reid as executive director

 The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) has announced that Karl Reid, Ed.D. has been named its new executive director, effective June 2. Dr. Reid is currently senior vice president of research, innovation and member college engagement at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF).

For more than 15 years, Dr. Reid has been a leading advocate for increasing college access and opportunity for low-income and minority youth. At UNCF, he oversaw new program development, research, and capacity building for the organization’s 37 historically black colleges and universities. Prior to joining UNCF, Dr. Reid was associate dean of undergraduate education and director of the Office of Minority Education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was responsible for the academic performance and leadership development of underrepresented minority students. He also served as assistant to the MIT chancellor for student diversity.

Dr. Reid, 51, previously served as an NSBE chapter leader and national chairperson. “I hope that NSBE becomes more impactful globally during my tenure,” he says. “I want to work with partners to dramatically increase the number of young people who are excited about and prepared for successful careers in engineering and science. This is our mandate, and it is as vital and relevant today as it was when it was envisioned by our founders in 1975.”

Earlier in his career, Dr. Reid served for eight years as executive director of Engineering Outreach Programs for MIT’s School of Engineering where he directed local and national college access programs that aimed to increase the number of students from underserved and underrepresented communities prepared to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). He also lectured on race, identity, and academic achievement and served on MIT’s Committee on Undergraduate Engineering Practice, the Committee on Campus Race Relations, and the Presidential Task Force on Minority Student Achievement.

Born and raised in New York City and Long Island, NY, Dr. Reid earned both his Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science degrees in Materials Science and Engineering from MIT and his Doctorate of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His research interests include exploring the relationships between racial identity and self-efficacy and their influence on the academic achievement of African American males in higher education.

After graduating from MIT, Dr. Reid worked for 12 years in the computer industry in product management, marketing, sales, and consulting for several companies including IBM. Dr. Reid is a member of the Tau Beta Pi National Engineering Honor Society. Among other activities, he directs Christian education at the Reid Temple AME Church and blogs about academic achievement and success strategies.

With a membership of more than 30,000, NSBE is one of the nation’s largest student-governed organizations. NSBE was founded in 1975 to serve African Americans in engineering and technology. With more than 300 chapters in the United States and abroad, NSBE supports and promotes the aspirations of college and pre-college students and technical professionals. For more information, visit

Monday, May 5, 2014

Kansas teen makes a prosthetic hand for a young friend

In the mechanical engineering world, we hear a lot these days about 3D printing being used for rapid prototyping. A recent article in American Profile magazine demonstrates its possibilities.

Matthew Shields, 9, was born without fingers on one hand. His mother Jennifer Shields couldn't afford a professionally made prosthetic, even with health insurance. However, researching online, she found Robohand, a mechanical hand invented by South African carpenter Richard van As, who lost four fingers in a circular saw accident, and theatrical props maker Ivan Owen in Bellingahm, WA. The pair posted the free digital design last year on

Enter Mason Wilde, 17, a straight-A student who aspires to be an engineer and had read about 3D printing technology. "I downloaded all the files and spent about three hours scaling the hand to fit Matthew," Wilde said in the article. Using a 3D printer at the Johnson County Library in Overland Park, KS,  he fed and melted plastic filament to make parts on the 3D printer, a process that took about eight hours. Wilde assembled the 20 pieces with with nylon cord and stainless steel screws. He attached the mechanical hand to a glove-like cuff that he molded from thermoplastic to fit Matthew's hand. The materials cost about $60.

Matthew uses backward and forward movements of his wrist to make the fingers open and close. "It's awesome," he says.

Meanwhile, Wilde has established a nonprofit organization to raise money to buy a 3D printer and make prosthetics of other people. "It's an amazing feeling to be able to give someone a hand, something we often take for granted," he says.