Check it out: The Tom Cruise Touch

In order to expose you to the coolest gadgets and technologies, we will be featuring articles about products we want to get our hands on.

Before clicking the following link, be sure to turn your volume up!

Clip of multi-touch screens for entertainment purposes

During the 1970s, technology helped to facilitate our lives with
the invention of the electronic touch interface. Since then, the
growing market for products using touch screen technology, such as
handheld devices and ATM’s, has encouraged innovators to advance
the technology to a multi-touch screen interaction. The
development of multi-touch screen interaction allows the use of
more than one finger on the screen, such as chording, and allows
multiple users to interact simultaneously. As seen in the movie,
Minority Report, multi-touch screen interaction leads to infinite
possibilities! In fact, this movie inspired engineers to use a
similar technology to help with information overloads in the
military and government agencies. The latest products with this
technology include Sony’s EyeToy:a camera used to incorporate a
person’s movement into a videogame, and Apple’s new iPhone,
allowing for multi-gestures on the screen. Besides being an
extraordinarily useful and efficient tool, multi-touch interface
is extremely entertaining an fun to use!
Also worth a look:
Inspiration behind the gadgets in Minority Report
iPhone interaction on youtube

Written by Danielle Oliver

Materials Science in Action!

Tom, a friend of mine who recently graduated as a Materials Science major, is very excited about his work at Intel...

What triggered your interest in applying to engineering programs?

The story you’ll hear from a lot of engineers is that they were simply good at math and science and it only seemed natural to apply to engineering schools. However for me, it was more about wanting to understand how and why things around me worked, from something as simple as an alarm clock to something much more complex like an automobile or even a computer.

Which class stands out most for you? Why?

The classes I enjoyed most were the ones that opened my eyes to amazing new technologies that could revolutionize the way we live our lives. The most impressive of these was a class focused on organic electronics. When thinking of electronics you normally imagine copper wires, lead batteries, silicon computer chips, and other inorganic materials. This class taught me about a whole new class of plastics and other organic materials which performed the functions of normal inorganic materials. What was even better about these materials is that they could be printed onto flexible plastic sheets to form futuristic devices like electronic newspapers and solar energy producing windows.

What was your major?

My major was Materials Science which focuses on the physics and theory of why materials behave the way they do. So for example we learned why metals when bent will keep their form, why plastics when bent will return to their original form, and why ceramics when bent will shatter. This major also included some revolutionary laboratory research like the organic electronics I mentioned above. This gave undergraduates the ability to apply their classroom learning in a real world situation in a cutting edge laboratory environment.

Were you apart of any cool student groups or project teams related to science?

I was part of an amazing research group which eventually became some of my best friends at Cornell. We all worked extremely hard in the lab and then loved to celebrate after successfully publishing a scientific paper or discovering something previously unknown to the scientific community.

What does Intel do?

Intel is the world’s largest computer chip producer. Chances are the computer you use daily has an Intel computer chip inside. We make computer chips for desktops, laptops, and even super powerful server computers which process the huge amounts of information that travels through the internet on a daily basis.

Where do you fit in at Intel?

Making a computer chip takes hundreds and even thousands of process steps. My position is called a Process Engineer, which basically means that I am in charge of a particular step, or process, required in making a computer chip. This involves running silicon wafers through large, highly complicated equipment capable of adding or removing extremely thin layers of material, which create billions of transistors. These transistors act as on/off switches and form the basis all computer chips.

What kind of cutting edge work are you involved in?

I currently work in Intel’s newest and most advanced computer chip manufacturing plant. This plant has equipment which is capable of creating features as small as 65 nanometers. This is 150,000 times smaller than a centimeter and far smaller than what the human eye can see. Because we can create such tiny features, we are able to cram more transistors and therefore more computing power into a computer chip.


Materials Science Engineering = What???

As I mentioned earlier, there are many facets of engineering. Today, I’d like to focus on Materials Science Engineering (MS&E).

Q: So what is MS&E anyway?

MS&E is a growing field within engineering that examines the properties of different existing materials, the development of new materials and the improvement of those we encounter every day. Many high tech industries that have been developing over the past few years (nanotechnology, biotechnology) heavily rely on the research and developments in this field.

Q: What real world applications does MS&E have?

As handheld devices (MP3 players, cell phones, and laptops) continue to get smaller and more powerful, the need for lighter weight, radiation resistant, self cooling materials continues to grow. Materials Science engineers are continuously studying material properties in order to find the right glue to adhere an artificial heart without infecting the body, or the strongest, yet lightest, form of protection to put in bullet proof vests for soldiers. Understanding materials is a crucial part of our society, even if these properties just help us clean our lenses on reading glasses! Here is an example of a water resistant wood currently in development for use on ships, trucks and cabins.

Q: What sort of classes do you take when studying MS&E?

MS&E classes include physics and chemistry, atomic & molecular structures of matter, electronic and magnetic properties of materials, ceramics and many others that deeply the properties of the materials that surround us.

Q: What are typical career paths taken after graduating with a degree in MS&E?

MS&E graduates go into a wide range of fields. Many continue researching new alternative materials, some with the hopes of developing an alternative to silicon computer chips. Others pursue biological applications of MS&E to help build artificial limbs. Those interested in working for large companies go on to work for major companies such as Kodak, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Motorola and Xerox.

An MS&E friend of mine describes the major like so:

Materials Science focuses on the physics and theory of why materials behave the way they do. So for example we learned why metals when bent will keep their form, why plastics when bent will return to their original form, and why ceramics when bent will shatter.