Archive for February 19th, 2013
2/19

Women are far less likely to hold engineering jobs than men, even though salaries in the field are on the rise and the pay gap between genders is less severe than in previous decades. New research underscores the key reasons behind the gender gap in engineering, ranging from workplace bias to gender stereotypes. Here, we examine the changes necessary to help bring more women to the field. Read more


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Year after year, engineers are ranked among the highest-paid professionals in the U.S., both in terms of starting salary and mid-career income. In honor of National Engineers Week (Feb. 17-23), we look at the reasons why engineers command top-tier compensation, and what recent graduates, as well as experienced engineers, can expect to earn. Read more


CyberSecurity

President Barack Obama has issued a new executive order calling on the federal government to develop cyber security standards for companies that operate key utilities, such as electric grids, telecommunications networks, and air traffic control systems. Will the president’s move succeed in shoring up security gaps? Read more


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Although women have made great strides in formerly male-dominated professions in the last few decades, engineering remains one of the occupations where female employees are severely underrepresented. Why is the gender divide still so wide in technical fields? Read more


RecReading

In The Big Roads, author Earl Swift chronicles the visionary engineers and entrepreneurs who spearheaded the creation of the U.S. interstate highway system and, in the process, transformed the nation’s economy. Read more


2/19
Can algae-based fuels ever reach commercial scale? Credit: Honeywell.

Can algae-based fuels ever reach commercial scale? Credit: Honeywell.

Biofuel isn’t a new concept; it’s pretty ancient, in fact. The earliest humans to make their own fire used biofuel when they placed wood, dung, grass and other distinctly organic fuels. Biodiesel, a distinctly more modern and complicated prospect, isn’t new, either. It’s a little known fact that Rudolf Diesel, the German inventor of the diesel engine, originally designed his prototype engine to run on peanut oil. It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that large-scale fossil-fuel oils became the blood of industry.

As we approach a point of peak oil — the point at which fossil fuels become scarcer and more expensive (and some argue that we’ve already passed that point) — the interest in biodiesel has been revived. Producing fuel from food products, however, has been morally controversial from the beginning. As the planet’s population and demand for food grows, it becomes more unconscionable for the wealthier nations to waste food products like corn, soy, sugar cane, and rapeseed, as well as food cultivation space, on filling their gas tanks.

To mitigate wasted food and wasted land, in recent decades, there has been rising interest in cultivating biofuel from algae. To pursue a better promise of low-cost, scalable, green and clean biodiesel, research organizations in institutions both private and public have sunk a lot of time and money into algae research in an effort to advance a technology that could produce transportation fuel on a large scale. Read more


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