Teaching Hybrid Technology

October 29, 2009

In this year’s Consumer Report annual reliability survey, five of the top eight family vehicles were hybrids. At the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show earlier this moth, the new Toyota Prius was voted Japan’s Car of the Year. The Honda Insight was awarded Car of the Year by the Committee of Japan Automotive Hall of Fame.

All signs point to the fact that not only are hybrids popular among environmentalists, they are popular among the general public as well as automotive insiders. This means that the market segment of hybrid owners will continue to grow.

And those cars will need to be maintained.

At this point, auto tech programs that teach or specialize in hybrid technology are rare. There are thousands of programs that still have yet to develop a curriculum for teaching hybrids. Part of the reason for that lag has been the lack of available teaching tools.

NADA Scientific is here to help. We recently introduced two new hybrid automotive technology teaching aids.

The Hybrid System Model is a solid model of a parallel hybrid system that is used in the Toyota Prius. It has a built-in operating panel to help students learn about hybrid engines.

The Hybrid Cut-Away Engine is an engine mounted on a metal frame that includes cut-aways of the engine and transmission sections, as well as an operation panel, all powered by two sets of 120V electric motors.

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The Number of New Scientists

October 29, 2009

According to a new study, the number of native-born Americans studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) has stayed level over the past 30 years. These findings appear to be at odds with the public calls from the government and policy groups for more Americans to study science and engineering.

The paper was written by researchers at Rutgers University and Georgetown University. They conducted a longitudinal study, following students studying STEM through high school, college and into the workforce. They were looking for three things: the retention rate (how many students stayed in a STEM field), how this rate compared to previous generations, and the quality of the students who stayed with STEM studied.

What they found was a drop not in the overall numbers, but a drop in the final aspect, the quality. There was a sharp decline in the number of the highest performing students who continued to study STEM and join the workforce in an STEM related field. This decline began in the late 1990s.

This occurs because of the depressing wages in STEM fields, turning potential scientists and technology innovators into business people and office workers.

So is the public cry for more scientists beneficial? More scientists could cause a glut in the supply while driving down the quality.

Or instead, should we be more encouraging to those students who love science, and make sure there are more jobs available to them for wages commiserate with their importance.


2009 Science Nobel Prizes

October 9, 2009

While the announcement of Barack Obama as the winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize has surprised the world and overtaken the news cycle, the earlier announced awards in the science fields are just as worthy of discussion.

On October 5, 2009 it was announced that three people would share the award for the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Doctors Elizabeth H. Blackburn of the University of California, San Francisco; Carol W. Greider of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; and Jack W. Szostak of Massachusetts General Hospital received the award for their work with telomere research.

Telomere research deals with chromosomes. Chromosomes are composed of a long strand of DNA. The strand ends are called telomeres. They get shorter during the aging process. This means they can be used to gauge cell age. Their research is important not only in the science of aging, but for cancer research.

This was the first time two women shared the prize for Medicine or Physiology. Another woman also received a share in a Nobel for her contribution to the science field. Ada E. Yonath of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel was one of the three scientists sharing the 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. She, along with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan of the M.R.C. Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England and Thomas A. Steitz of Yale University, received the prize for their work in mapping out the ribosomes.

Another trio took home the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physics: Charles K. Kao, Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith. They were rewarded for their work in light and optics. Dr. Kao, while working in England in the 1960s, made a discovery related to the distances light can travel, while Doctors Boyle and Smith invented the semiconductor sensor known as a charge-coupled device, or CCD. The discoveries are used to help with the flow of information. Dr. Kao’s discovery led to the development of the fiber optic cables that are integral in modern telephony as well as the fiber optic cables that make high-speed broadband Internet possible.