Archive for February, 2009

2/26/09 – “That Kid Who Invented Facebook”

As some of you may know, Facebook was created by college students at Harvard. Mark Zuckerberg, “that kid who invented Facebook,” dropped out of college after two years. I i don’t suggest you do that Zuckerberg’s story shows how a creative amateur can shape our lives with technology. Watch this interview with Zuckerberg and an anchor who is clueless about Facebook then take the quiz in blackboard.



February 26, 2009 at 10:24 am 1 comment

2/23/09: Careers of the Future

Hi Everyone,

I found this neat article that imagines the careers of the future. I think the article’s take home message is simple: studying math, science, and technology now will allow you to work at jobs that don’t even exist today. Jobs of the future that will help make the world a better place. How do you guys imagine the future?  Enjoy the article and please don’t forget to post your comments and take the blackboard assessment at:





2/23/09: Careers of the Future

These are the jobs that will propel tomorrow’s workforce.

By Jessica Renee Napier

“I want to be a teleport specialist when I grow up.”

Doctor, lawyer, firefighter and pilot were hot picks of the past. Get ready for careers of the future. There will be people working in space, the virtual world and in spheres not yet imaginable.

Technology is expanding at a rapid rate, creating a demand for new professions. At the same time, occupations of the past are slowly — disappearing. No need for a check out clerk at the grocery store if a robot can do the job. It won’t be necessary to design a home on Earth when architecture is moving to space.

Careers of the future will change how people communicate, learn and live. Some of these jobs are light-years away from creation, but for others, the future is now. Learn where you could be working.

Alternative Vehicle Developers

This is the job that will make the vehicles from the cartoon show “The Jetsons” come to life. Cars will move at the speed of light and there will be highways in the sky.

Ford Motor Company is developing futuristic vehicles — now. The Ford Reflex, released in early 2006, is a car for the future: delivers 65 miles per gallon; made of synthetic and regenerated materials; equipped with safety belts integrated with inflatable bags to deploy during a collision; and uses solar panels.

At the University of Northwestern Ohio, students can pursue a career as an alternative vehicle developer. They can study automotive technology, alternative fuels technology and motorsport education. These individuals will be the industry leaders responsible for inventing the latest and most efficient vehicles on the road ? or one day, in the sky.

Biometric Identification Specialist

Think about the film “Minority Report” — Tom Cruise undergoes eye transplant surgery because he lives in a society that practices iris recognition. Since he’s framed for murder, he’s forced to find a new set of eyes because machines scan his iris, revealing his location to police.

Biometric identification specialists develop the technology to identify people based on an eye, palm or voice scan. This machinery is already used for Israeli border control to identify Palestinians who are issued ID cards that allow them to work in Israel. The ID card stores fingerprints, hand geometry and facial geometry.

West Virginia University offers a Bachelor of Science in Biometric Systems.

Data Miner

This career is the next step for the statistical analyst. Instead of only providing numbers, a data miner will examine numbers to forecast future events, explain business processes and create predictive models.

Data miners work on tasks such as multifactor dimensionality reduction (MDR) — examining how independent variables interact to influence a dependent variable. Data miners will look at MDR to detect the correlation with attributes such as DNA-sequence, gender and smoking to the risk of developing certain diseases. Data miners also work for the government to map and target terrorist networks.

As data collection expands, companies and governments will need more people to interpret the statistics.

Experimental Petrologist

If humans should ever move to live on another planet, it will be thanks to the work of experimental petrologists. These individuals are studying rocks from other planets to learn about their formation and evolution.

Rocks, which come to Earth via meteorite, can show petrologists the age of the material and the type of atmospheric gas the stone was exposed to. Studies thus far have shown potential for future human life on Mars.

Starting points for a career in experimental petrology include Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School of Earth & Space Science at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Robotics Engineer

These folks aren’t in line to develop the next R2D2. Robotics engineers are creating robots — in some cases more efficient than humans — for medical, military, agricultural and mining purposes.

Careers are found in companies such as Boston Dynamics, specializing in robotic engineering and human simulation. Boston Dynamics has created BigDog, a quadruped robot capable of walking, running and climbing rough terrain. As part of a research project for the Department of Defense, BigDog can run 4mph, climb 35 degree slopes and carry 340 pounds.

A good starting point for a career in robotics engineering is Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute, which researches and develops robot technology for industrial and government use.

Space Architect

Meet the team: 47 architects from 16 countries who design living environments — for space. These individuals came together at the 2002 World Space Congress to develop The Millennium Charter, a space architect’s manifesto.

Imagine creating a house with no walls or ceilings in an atmosphere that is free of gravity. Without gravity, there isn’t an indication of upside down or right-side up, giving you six floors — or ceilings.

A free-floating environment is just one of the factors that space architects at the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture consider. SICSA is part of the University of Houston’s space architecture master’s program.

Current projects at SICSA include a greenhouse on Mars, lunar outposts and space exploration vehicles. Students are given the opportunity to present such projects to NASA and some will end up working there after graduation.

Sustainability Coordinator

Research continues to reveal the effects of global warming, increasing the demand for sustainability coordinators. It’s the jobs of these individuals to help meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations. Tasks would mainly focuses on environmental care, but can include social and political needs as well.

Illinois State University’s Department of Technology offers the Renewable Energy undergraduate major, which is a broad-based program addressing the social, economic, and technical issues that graduates will encounter in the emerging field of renewable energy.

The demand for sustainability coordinators has increased in the last decade. Such experts will find work at universities, governmental agencies, utilities organizations and consultancy groups.

Teleport Specialist

Still a novel idea for some, careers in teleportation may soon be taking shape — with field specialists required. A teleport specialist will need to know how to work a machine that can analyze billions of atoms in a person’s body and recreate the individual in another location.

For students interested in future careers in teleportation, it’ll be helpful to have a background in quantum atom optics, the study of nature’s interaction with light. Cutting-edge programs are the University of Queensland’s Australian Research Center for Quantum Atom Optics and the University of Rochester’s Department of Physics.

Research at the universities show that the atoms of a substance called Bose-Einstein condensate can be manipulated to act as one big particle when brought to low temperatures. This is the first step in devising a way to teleport atoms, which brings day one of a teleport specialist’s career that much closer.

Weather Modification Police

Arresting cloud bandits and controlling cloud theft will be the duties of weather modification police. The act of stealing clouds to create rain is already happening in some parts of the world, and it’s altering weather patterns thousands of miles away.

Weather modification police will need to ensure that people who shoot rockets containing silver iodine into the air — a way to provoke rainfall from passing clouds — are licensed to do so. Villages in rural China have already taken to inducing pregnant rain clouds, resulting in more rain in certain areas than others.

Individuals in this career will measure the level of iodine in the air to ensure that areas with abnormal quantities are abiding by weather modification laws. This career will be necessary to make sure no one monopolizes rainfall.

Wind Farmer

These are the people who bring you energy. They measure land areas, air speeds, turbine sizes and the pitch of the blades.

The Horizon Wind Energy Center uses nature’s wind and turbines that stand 300 feet tall to create electricity. These wind farmers are experts in math and physics, using algebra, trigonometry and geometry at work every day. One wind farm could have 120 turbines, each buried nine feet into the ground at 52 feet in diameter, which will bring electricity to thousands of homes.

Iowa Lakes Community College offers a Wind Energy and Turbine Technology program for students interested in an expanding career field, as alternative energies climb in popularity and affordability.

*This story is from Converge magazine’s Summer 2008 issue.


February 23, 2009 at 12:13 am 1 comment

Samsung goes green with solar powered cell phone: It’s the thought that counts.

I know it’s pretty swell that “going green” has almost become a corporate trend and the  efforts of companies like Samsung can, indeed, help the environment. However, simply attaching solar panels to small consumer electronics isn’t necessarily the best way to achieve sustainability. With the Obama administration’s promise to invest money into funding the research of alternative energy, we’ll see more and more technologies going “green.” This additional funding will create jobs in numerous emerging technology fields and will help the environment at the same time! Now, with that said, check out the results of Samsung’s efforts!


Meet the Samsung Blue Earth phone. In addition to having a full touch screen interface, it features a solar panel array on the back that provides enough power to charge the phone. Sounds like a pretty great idea until one considers the fact that that many people primarily keep their cell phones in their pocket or in a case of some sort when not using the phone and charge it at night. It’s the thought that counts, right?

The Blue Earth isn’t without legitimate benefits, though. For example, the body of the phone is made from recycled plastic water bottles. In addition to that, the body doesn’t contain any Phthalates (a substance added to plastic to increase its flexibility), Beryllium (a toxic compound added to plastics) or brominated flame retardants, a major type of chemical flame retardants that are very effective in plastics. This means that when it comes time for this phone to eventually be replaced and end up in a landfill, it will have less environmental impact. The charger that comes with the phone is also made from environmentally friendly materials.

So, what do you guys think about this technology? Solar panels are obviously beneficial, but to what extent should the technology be implemented? Feel free to discuss in the comments section! Oh, and don’t forget to take your quiz!

Thanks for reading,


February 19, 2009 at 12:49 am 2 comments

Predictive Text

How many text messages do you send per day? If you are like most young adults, the answer is probably a number between 2 and… I don’t know 10?. Well, In 2007 the average cell phone user sent 188 text messages per month, which equals roughly 2,256 texts a year or 6 per day. But I am sure that by now those numbers have gone way up. Maybe one of the reasons that text messaging has become so popular is that technologies such as predictive text make this technology so easy to use.

Predictive text is an input technology that reduces the number of key strokes necessary to enter a word, thus simplifying the process of writing text messages or emails. There are several types of predictive text technologies such as T9, iTap, eZiText and Word Logic. But how does it work? Well let me tell you that it was almost impossible to find a good simplified explanation, however I did find out that it takes some complicated mathematical equations that use several variables to compute possible word outcomes.

Just take a look at this link and you will see what I am talking about! Predictive Text (You don’t have to read this whole article just notice the math involved)

Basically how this works is that a dictionary is stored in a computing system, and then a program is created to allow that as the user presses the number buttons on the cell phone that triggers a mathematical algorithm that searches the dictionary for a list of possible words and offers the most probable (common) choice.

google5Similar technologies recently became available by search engines such as Google, Youtube, and Wikipedia. In these cases, predictive search helps you find what you are looking for before you even finish entering the whole phrase. I am sure most of you have already seen this, but in the picture shows that all I needed to type was “Illinois st” for Google to predict that I was searching “Illinois State University”, based partly on probabilities.

Thanks, and remember to take the blackboard assessment for this post at:


February 16, 2009 at 1:50 am Leave a comment

2/11/09: Probability and A.I.


Want some extra credit for math 120?  Well just watch this movie about A.I. and take the matching quiz in blackboard.  Don’t worry, the movie doesn’t star Haley Joel Osment (  But it does involve probability though! Watch the video, take the test, enjoy your week.


February 13, 2009 at 8:30 pm 2 comments

2/9/09: Actuaries are actually cool!

Hey Everyone,

I heard you have been studying probability in class. As we all know, math is at the foundation of almost every technology career. In particular, understanding the concepts of probability will not only help you play poker, it could land you a high paying job as an actuary. What is an actuary? Watch this video and share your thoughts with us by replying to this blog post.

Thanks, and remember to take the blackboard assessment for this post at:



February 9, 2009 at 12:50 pm 3 comments

The DoD Sets Up an Open Source Software Portal!

You’re probably more familiar with open source software than you think. For example, if you have ever used the Mozilla Firefox web browser, you’ve used open source software. To understand why this is significant, you will need to understand what open source software actually is.

Open Source Logo

Open source software essentially means that the code that the software runs on is made publicly available for anyone to access. This means that if a bug in the software is noticed after a major release, anyone with the ability to fix the problem can do so and submit that fix for review. If the “official” developers of the project think that the submitted code is OK, they will add that code in the next release. Here’s a link to the official definition.

Now that you know what open source software is, let me tell you why I think it rules: transparency.

The Department of Defense agrees and that’s why they’ve chosen to set up where the public is able to view any of the current open source programs they are working on. According to Matt Asay at C|Net,

“All of the code is open for public view, though only those with the right Defense Department credentials can edit or contribute to the projects. As the public sees the code, however, it’s almost certain to lead to individuals wanting to contribute to the code.”

Because so many people will have access to the source code, bug fixes can be developed sooner, security flaws can be fixed sooner and the DoD will be able to cut costs. All of these things are great reasons for the Government to develop and adopt open source software of its own instead of relying on commercial vendors like Microsoft.

It goes without saying that in order to contribute to projects like these, you’d have to have some formal training. Now, programming isn’t for everyone, but that’s not because it’s necessarily “hard.” A great way to see if you’d even be interested in something like that would be to take an entry level programming class that would use “Visual Basic”, a user-friendly programming language. I recommend it, there are some cool things you can do with that!

So, with that said, head on over to Blackboard and take your extra credit quiz! But, before you go, what do you guys think about the Government using open source software? Is the total transparancy good? Bad? Feel free to leave a comment to let us know what you think!



February 5, 2009 at 1:40 am 3 comments

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