People Should Find A Safe Storm Shelter During Thunderstorm

Tuesday June 5, 2001 marked the start of an extremely fascinating time in the annals of my cherished Houston. Tropical storm Allison, that early summer daytime came to see. The thunderstorm went rapidly, although there was Tuesday. Friday, afterward arrived, and Allison returned. This time going slowly, this time in the north. The thunderstorm became still. Thousands of people driven from their houses. Only when they might be desired most, several leading hospitals shut. Dozens of important surface roads, and every important highway covered in water that was high.

Yet even prior to the rain stopped, service to others, and narratives of Christian compassion started to be composed. For a couples class, about 75 people had assembled at Lakewood Church among the greatest nondenominational churches in The United States. From time they got ready to depart the waters had climbed so high they were stranded. The facility of Lakewood stayed dry and high at the center of among the hardest hit parts of town. Refugees in the powerful thunderstorm started arriving at their doorstep. Without no advance preparation, and demand of official sanction, those 75 classmates started a calamity shelter that grew to hold over 3,000 customers. The greatest of over 30 refuges that could be established in the height of the thunderstorm.

Where help was doled out to those who’d suffered losses after Lakewood functioned as a Red Cross Service Center. When it became clear that FEMA aid, and Red Cross wouldn’t bring aid enough, Lakewood and Second Baptist joined -Houston to produce an adopt a family plan to greatly help get folks on their feet quicker. In the occasions that followed militaries of Christians arrived in both churches. From all over town, people of economical standing, race, and each and every denomination collected. Wet rotted carpeting were pulled up, sheet stone removed. Piles of clothes donated food and bed clothes were doled out. Elbow grease and cleaning equipment were used to start eliminating traces of the damage.

It would have been an excellent example of practical ministry in a period of disaster, in the event the story stopped here, but it continues. A great many other churches functioned as shelters as well as in the occasions that followed Red Cross Service Centers. Tons of new volunteers, a lot of them Christians put to work, and were put through accelerated training. That Saturday, I used to be trapped in my own, personal subdivision. Particular that my family was safe because I worked in Storm Shelters OKC that was near where I used to live. What they wouldn’t permit the storm to do, is take their demand to give their religion, or their self respect. I saw so a lot of people as they brought gifts of food, clothes and bedclothes, praising the Lord. I saw young kids coming making use of their parents to not give new, rarely used toys to kids who had none.

Unity Church of Christianity from a location across town impacted by the storm sent a sizable way to obtain bedding as well as other supplies. A tiny troupe of musicians and Christian clowns requested to be permitted to amuse the kids in the shelter where I served and arrived. We of course promptly taken their offer. The kids were collected by them in a sizable empty space of flooring. They sang, they told stories, balloon animals were made by them. The kids, frightened, at least briefly displaced laughed.

When not occupied elsewhere I did lots of listening. I listened to survivors that were disappointed, and frustrated relief workers. I listened to kids make an effort to take advantage of a scenario they could not comprehend. All these are only the stories I have heard or seen. I am aware that spiritual groups, Churches, and lots of other individual Christians functioned admirably. I do need to thank them for the attempts in disaster. I thank The Lord for supplying them to serve.

I didn’t write its individuals, or this which means you’d feel sorry for Houston. As this disaster unfolded yet what I saw encouraged my beliefs the Lord will provide through our brothers and sisters in religion for us. Regardless how awful your community hits, you the individual Christian can be a part of the remedy. Those blankets you can probably never use, and have stored away mean much to people who have none. You are able to help in the event that you can drive. You are able to help if you’re able to create a cot. It is possible to help in the event that you can scrub a wall. It is possible to help if all you are able to do is sit and listen. Large catastrophes like Allison get lots of focus. However a disaster can come in virtually any size. That is a serious disaster to your family that called it home in case a single household burns. It is going to be generations prior to the folks here forget Allison.

United States Oil and Gas Exploration Opportunities

Firms investing in this sector can research, develop and create, as well as appreciate the edges of a global gas and oil portfolio with no political and economical disadvantages. Allowing regime and the US financial conditions is rated amongst the world and the petroleum made in US is sold at costs that were international. The firms will likely gain as US also has a national market that is booming. Where 500 exploration wells are drilled most of the petroleum exploration in US continues to be concentrated around the Taranaki Basin. On the other hand, the US sedimentary basins still remain unexplored and many show existence of petroleum seeps and arrangements were also unveiled by the investigation data with high hydrocarbon potential. There have already been onshore gas discoveries before including Great south river basins, East Coast Basin and offshore Canterbury.

As interest in petroleum is expected to grow strongly during this interval but this doesn’t automatically dim the bright future expectations in this sector. The interest in petroleum is anticipated to reach 338 PJ per annum. The US government is eager to augment the gas and oil supply. As new discoveries in this sector are required to carry through the national demand at the same time as raise the amount of self reliance and minimize the cost on imports of petroleum the Gas and Oil exploration sector is thought to be among the dawn sectors. The US government has invented a distinctive approach to reach its petroleum and gas exploration targets. It’s developed a “Benefit For Attempt” model for Petroleum and Gas exploration tasks in US.

The “Benefit For Attempt” in today’s analytic thinking is defined as oil reserves found per kilometer drilled. It will help in deriving the estimate of reservations drilled for dollar and each kilometer spent for each investigation. The authorities of US has revealed considerable signs that it’ll bring positive effects of change which will favor investigation of new oil reserves since the price of investigation has adverse effects on investigation task. The Authorities of US has made the information accessible about the oil potential in its study report. Foil of advice in royalty and allocation regimes, and simplicity of processes have enhanced the attractiveness of Petroleum and Natural Gas Sector in the United States.

Petroleum was the third biggest export earner in 2008 for US and the chance to to keep up the growth of the sector is broadly accessible by manners of investigation endeavors that are new. The government is poised to keep the impetus in this sector. Now many firms are active with new exploration jobs in the Challenger Plateau of the United States, Northland East Slope Basin region, outer Taranaki Basin, and Bellona Trough region. The 89 Energy oil and gas sector guarantees foreign investors as government to high increase has declared a five year continuance of an exemption for offshore petroleum and gas exploration in its 2009 budget. The authorities provide nonresident rig operators with tax breaks.

Modern Robot Duct Cleaning Uses

AC systems, and heat, venting collect pollutants and contaminants like mold, debris, dust and bacteria that can have an adverse impact on indoor air quality. Most folks are at present aware that indoor air pollution could be a health concern and increased visibility has been thus gained by the area. Studies have also suggested cleaning their efficacy enhances and is contributory to a longer operating life, along with maintenance and energy cost savings. The cleaning of the parts of forced air systems of heat, venting and cooling system is what’s called duct cleaning. Robots are an advantageous tool raising the price and efficacy facets of the procedure. Therefore, using modern robot duct isn’t any longer a new practice.

A cleaner, healthier indoor environment is created by a clean air duct system which lowers energy prices and increases efficiency. As we spend more hours inside air duct cleaning has become an important variable in the cleaning sector. Indoor pollutant levels can increase. Health effects can show years or up immediately after repeated or long exposure. These effects range from some respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, and cancer that can be deadly or debilitating. Therefore, it’s wise to ensure indoor air quality isn’t endangered inside buildings. Dangerous pollutants that can found in inside can transcend outdoor air pollutants in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Duct cleaning from Air Duct Cleaning Edmond professionals removes microbial contaminants, that might not be visible to the naked eye together with both observable contaminants. Indoor air quality cans impact and present a health hazard. Air ducts can be host to a number of health hazard microbial agents. Legionnaires Disease is one malaise that’s got public notice as our modern surroundings supports the development of the bacteria that has the potential to cause outbreaks and causes the affliction. Typical disorder-causing surroundings contain wetness producing gear such as those in air conditioned buildings with cooling towers that are badly maintained. In summary, in building and designing systems to control our surroundings, we’ve created conditions that were perfect . Those systems must be correctly tracked and preserved. That’s the secret to controlling this disorder.

Robots allow for the occupation while saving workers from exposure to be done faster. Signs of the technological progress in the duct cleaning business is apparent in the variety of gear now available for example, array of robotic gear, to be used in air duct cleaning. Robots are priceless in hard to reach places. Robots used to see states inside the duct, now may be used for spraying, cleaning and sampling procedures. The remote controlled robotic gear can be fitted with practical and fastener characteristics to reach many different use functions.

Video recorders and a closed circuit television camera system can be attached to the robotic gear to view states and operations and for documentation purposes. Inside ducts are inspected by review apparatus in the robot. Robots traveling to particular sections of the system and can move around barriers. Some join functions that empower cleaning operation and instruction manual and fit into little ducts. An useful view range can be delivered by them with models delivering disinfection, cleaning, review, coating and sealing abilities economically.

The remote controlled robotic gear comes in various sizes and shapes for different uses. Of robotic video cameras the first use was in the 80s to record states inside the duct. Robotic cleaning systems have a lot more uses. These devices provide improved accessibility for better cleaning and reduce labor costs. Lately, functions have been expanded by areas for the use of small mobile robots in the service industries, including uses for review and duct cleaning.

More improvements are being considered to make a tool that was productive even more effective. If you determine to have your ventilation, heat and cooling system cleaned, it’s important to make sure all parts of the system clean and is qualified to achieve this. Failure to clean one part of a contaminated system can lead to re-contamination of the entire system.

When To Call A DWI Attorney

Charges or fees against a DWI offender need a legal Sugar Land criminal defense attorney that is qualified dismiss or so that you can reduce charges or the fees. So, undoubtedly a DWI attorney is needed by everyone. Even if it’s a first-time violation the penalties can be severe being represented by a DWI attorney that is qualified is vitally significant. If you’re facing following charges for DWI subsequently the punishments can contain felony charges and be severe. Locating an excellent attorney is thus a job you should approach when possible.

So you must bear in mind that you just should hire a DWI attorney who practices within the state where the violation occurred every state within America will make its laws and legislation regarding DWI violations. It is because they are going to have the knowledge and expertise of state law that is relevant to sufficiently defend you and will be knowledgeable about the processes and evaluations performed to establish your guilt.

As your attorney they are going to look to the evaluations that have been completed at the time of your arrest and the authorities evidence that is accompanying to assess whether or not these evaluations were accurately performed, carried out by competent staff and if the right processes where followed. It isn’t often that a police testimony is asserted against, although authorities testimony also can be challenged in court.

You should attempt to locate someone who specializes in these kind of cases when you start trying to find a DWI attorney. Whilst many attorneys may be willing to consider on your case, a lawyer who specializes in these cases is required by the skilled knowledge needed to interpret the scientific and medical evaluations ran when you had been detained. The first consultation is free and provides you with the chance to to inquire further about their experience in fees and these cases.

Many attorneys will work according into a fee that is hourly or on a set fee basis determined by the kind of case. You may find how they have been paid to satisfy your financial situation and you will have the capacity to negotiate the conditions of their fee. If you are unable to afford to hire an attorney that is private you then can request a court-appointed attorney paid for by the state. Before you hire a DWI attorney you should make sure when you might be expected to appear in court and you understand the precise charges imposed against you.

How Credit Card Works

The credit card is making your life more easy, supplying an amazing set of options. The credit card is a retail trade settlement; a credit system worked through the little plastic card which bears its name. Regulated by ISO 7810 defines credit cards the actual card itself consistently chooses the same structure, size and contour. A strip of a special stuff on the card (the substance resembles the floppy disk or a magnetic group) is saving all the necessary data. This magnetic strip enables the credit card’s validation. The layout has become an important variable; an enticing credit card layout is essential in ensuring advice and its dependability keeping properties.

A credit card is supplied to the user just after a bank approves an account, estimating a varied variety of variables to ascertain fiscal dependability. This bank is the credit supplier. When a purchase is being made by an individual, he must sign a receipt to verify the trade. There are the card details, and the amount of cash to be paid. You can find many shops that take electronic authority for the credit cards and use cloud tokenization for authorization. Nearly all verification are made using a digital verification system; it enables assessing the card is not invalid. If the customer has enough cash to insure the purchase he could be attempting to make staying on his credit limit any retailer may also check.

As the credit supplier, it is as much as the banks to keep the user informed of his statement. They typically send monthly statements detailing each trade procedures through the outstanding fees, the card and the sums owed. This enables the cardholder to ensure all the payments are right, and to discover mistakes or fraudulent action to dispute. Interest is typically charging and establishes a minimal repayment amount by the end of the following billing cycle.

The precise way the interest is charged is normally set within an initial understanding. On the rear of the credit card statement these elements are specified by the supplier. Generally, the credit card is an easy type of revolving credit from one month to another. It can also be a classy financial instrument, having many balance sections to afford a greater extent for credit management. Interest rates may also be not the same as one card to another. The credit card promotion services are using some appealing incentives find some new ones along the way and to keep their customers.

Why Get Help From A Property Management?

One solution while removing much of the anxiety, to have the revenue of your rental home would be to engage and contact property management in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. If you wish to know more and are considering the product please browse the remainder of the post. Leasing out your bit of real property may be real cash-cow as many landlords understand, but that cash flow usually includes a tremendous concern. Night phones from tenants that have the trouble of marketing the house if you own an emptiness just take out lots of the pleasure of earning money off of leases, overdue lease payments which you must chase down, as well as over-flowing lavatories. One solution while removing much of the anxiety, to have the earnings would be to engage a property management organization.

These businesses perform as the go between for the tenant as well as you. The tenant will not actually need to understand who you’re when you hire a property management company. The company manages the day to day while you still possess the ability to help make the final judgements in regards to the home relationships using the tenant. The company may manage the marketing for you personally, for those who are in possession of a unit that is vacant. Since the company is going to have more connections in a bigger market than you’ve got along with the industry than you are doing, you’ll discover your device gets stuffed a whole lot more quickly making use of their aid. In addition, the property management company may care for testing prospective tenants. With regards to the arrangement you’ve got, you might nevertheless not be unable to get the last say regarding if a tenant is qualified for the the system, but of locating a suitable tenant, the day-to-day difficulty is not any longer your problem. They’ll also manage the before-move-in the reviews as well as reviews required following a tenant moves away.

It is possible to step back watching the profits, after the the system is stuffed. Communicating will be handled by the company with all the tenant if you have an issue. You won’t be telephoned if this pipe explosions at the center of the night time. Your consultant is called by the tenant in the company, who then makes the preparations that are required to get the issue repaired with a care supplier. You get a phone call a day later or may not know there was an issue before you register using the business. The property management organization may also make your leasing obligations to to get. The company will do what’s required to accumulate if your tenant is making a payment. In certain arrangements, the organization is going to also take-over paying taxation, insurance, and the mortgage on the portion of property. You actually need to do-nothing but appreciate after after all the the invoices are paid, the revenue which is sent your way.

With all the advantages, you’re probably questioning exactly what to employing a property management organization, the downside should be. From hiring one the primary variable that stops some landlords is the price. All these providers will be paid for by you. The price must be weighed by you from the time frame you’ll save time that you may subsequently use to follow additional revenue-producing efforts or just take pleasure in the fruits of your expense work.

Benifits From An Orthodontic Care

Orthodontics is the specialty of dentistry centered on the identification and treatment of dental and related facial problems. The outcomes of Norman Orthodontist OKC treatment could be dramatic — an advanced quality of life for a lot of individuals of ages and lovely grins, improved oral health health, aesthetics and increased cosmetic tranquility. Whether into a look dentistry attention is needed or not is an individual’s own choice. Situations are tolerated by most folks like totally various kinds of bite issues or over bites and don’t get treated. Nevertheless, a number people sense guaranteed with teeth that are correctly aligned, appealing and simpler. Dentistry attention may enhance construct and appearance power. It jointly might work with you consult with clearness or to gnaw on greater.

Orthodontic attention isn’t only decorative in character. It might also gain long term oral health health. Right, correctly aligned teeth is not more difficult to floss and clean. This may ease and decrease the risk of rot. It may also quit periodontists irritation that problems gums. Periodontists might finish in disease, that occurs once micro-organism bunch round your house where the teeth and the gums meet. Periodontists can be ended in by untreated periodontists. Such an unhealthiness result in enamel reduction and may ruin bone that surrounds the teeth. Less may be chewed by people who have stings that are harmful with efficacy. A few of us using a serious bite down side might have difficulties obtaining enough nutrients. Once the teeth aren’t aimed correctly, this somewhat might happen. Morsel issues that are repairing may allow it to be more easy to chew and digest meals.

One may also have language problems, when the top and lower front teeth do not arrange right. All these are fixed through therapy, occasionally combined with medical help. Eventually, remedy may ease to avoid early use of rear areas. Your teeth grow to an unlikely quantity of pressure, as you chew down. In case your top teeth do not match it’ll trigger your teeth that are back to degrade. The most frequently encountered type of therapy is the braces (or retainer) and head-gear. But, a lot people complain about suffering with this technique that, unfortunately, is also unavoidable. Sport braces damages, as well as additional individuals have problem in talking. Dental practitioners, though, state several days can be normally disappeared throughout by the hurting. Occasionally annoyance is caused by them. In the event that you’d like to to quit more unpleasant senses, fresh, soft and tedious food must be avoided by you. In addition, tend not to take your braces away unless the medical professional claims so.

It is advised which you just observe your medical professional often for medical examinations to prevent choice possible problems that may appear while getting therapy. You are going to be approved using a specific dental hygiene, if necessary. Dental specialist may look-out of managing and id malocclusion now. Orthodontia – the main specialization of medication – mainly targets repairing chin problems and teeth, your grin as well as thus your sting. Dentist, however, won’t only do chin remedies and crisis teeth. They also handle tender to severe dental circumstances which may grow to states that are risky. You actually have not got to quantify throughout a predicament your life all. See dental specialist San – Direction Posts, and you’ll notice only but of stunning your smile plenty will soon be.

Q&A: Seth Mnookin on the fallacy of “both sides” journalism

A longtime journalist and science writer, Seth Mnookin is a professor of science writing, director of the Graduate Program in Science Writing, and director of the MIT Communications Forum. In his most recent book, “The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy,” which won the Science in Society Award, Mnookin tackles a fundamental question: How do we decide what the truth is? SHASS Communications spoke with Mnookin recently about the state of journalism in an era when public trust is threatened by cries of “fake news” from political partisans aiming to discredit unflattering stories and to diminish the efficacy of the free press.

Q: Your most recent book, The Panic Virus,” examines what happened when science journalists led the public astray on the issue of vaccinations. What changes have there been in the way the issue has been reported since the book was published?

A: In the nine months before my book came out in early 2011, the fraudulent 1998 study that launched the unfounded fears that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine was linked to autism was retracted and the lead author lost his medical license. Those factors, along with my book, the work by other journalists, and the countless studies that showed there was no link between the MMR vaccine and autism helped put an end to the “on the one hand, on the other hand” reporting that had plagued so much of the journalism on the issue for so long.

Since then we’ve seen the issue occasionally creep back into the news — typically when a politician (Michelle Bachman in late 2011, Donald Trump more recently) makes an outrageous and inaccurate claim at a debate or press conference — but for the most part, reporting on this topic has been much improved.

Q: Some have called the current media climate “postfactual.” Have you observed any changes, for better or worse, in the coverage of other major scientific topics, such as climate change, health care, or energy policy?

A: American journalism is based on the principle of objectivity: journalists are supposed to be dispassionate about the subjects they cover. We’ve seen too many journalists confuse not taking sides with not calling out liars and frauds or giving too much credence to fringe or extreme views. HBO’s John Oliver illustrated the fundamental dishonesty of presenting “both sides” of settled issues as having equal weight when he had a segment that featured one climate change denier and 100 scientists who all agreed that human activity was contributing to dramatic changes in the environment.

It’s crucial for journalists to remember that even reporting that something is false will lead to a certain percentage of people believing that it’s actually true. One of the most important lessons I teach my students is sometimes, the best way to cover a controversy is not to cover it at all.

Q: Why is it so important that the public be informed about current research findings? Since sharing factual data does not, alas, always change strongly-felt but erroneous views, what additional approaches do you think can work to help the general public and leaders make data-based decisions?

A: I always get concerned when journalists start talking about using tactics to get politicians or the public to act in a certain way, regardless of how commendable or virtuous that behavior would be. The media’s responsibility is to report things fairly, accurately, and comprehensively. I think it is the responsibility of our elected and nonelected leaders to support the truth.

Unfortunately, the current administration has done almost the exact opposite. I do think that there is an enormous opportunity at the moment for scientists to become public advocates and ambassadors. President Reif has done that consistently and eloquently, as have other MIT scientists, including people like Eric Lander at the Broad Institute.

Q: As President Reif has said, solving the great challenges of our time will require multidisciplinary problem-solving — bringing together expertise and ideas from the humanities, arts, social science, and STEM fields. Can you share why you believe it’s important in such global problem-solving to incorporate research and insights from the humanities fields? What challenges do you see to such collaborations — and how can we overcome them?

A: As we’ve seen in areas like climate change and the vaccine-autism debate, having mountains of scientific research supporting a single conclusion is not enough in and of itself to spark widespread public acceptance. Tackling these challenges, like many other global issues, will require messengers who can communicate what the problems are and why the general public should care. Academia is often structured and incentivized in a way that discourages collaborations outside of one’s own field. Creating opportunities for those within STEM fields and the humanities to work together is one way to begin overcoming that obstacle.
 
Q: What are the biggest challenges the MIT Graduate Program in Science Writing faces in the future?

A: GPSW students are trained to be fair in their reporting and to accurately inform the public. Doing this requires overcoming significant obstacles within the media industry. Changes in the industry’s financial structure have meant that there are fewer staff opportunities for dedicated science reporters than ever before and freelancers are struggling with lower pay and larger workloads. Aspiring writers and journalists who decide to focus on science are already making enormous sacrifices. Out biggest challenge right now is to find a way to fully fund our students, so that they can embark on their careers without any debt.

Interview prepared by MIT SHASS Communications
Editorial team: Emily Hiestand (series editor) and Daniel Pritchard

MIT Skoltech Program calls for seed fund proposals

After two successful rounds of seed grants, the MIT Skoltech Seed Fund Program is calling for a third round of proposals from MIT principal investigators from any of the Institute’s schools, departments, laboratories, or centers. The call is open now through Jan. 26.

The MIT Skoltech Seed Fund Program encourages both new applications and renewals.

New applications are for innovative projects that should have the potential to benefit either the development of Skoltech or the mission of the Skolkovo Foundation’s mission. The program especially encourages proposals that promote experimental or applied research at Skoltech or other Russian academic and research institutions. 

Renewal applications for grants that expire in January 2018 allow for the continuation of research projects that were funded in the first round of the MIT Skoltech Seed Fund Program. The program has already supported 24 projects with more than $2 million in funding. A list of past seed fund awards can be found online.

Interested researchers are encouraged to submit proposals in three categories:

  • Research projects in the areas of science and engineering (life sciences and biomedicine; design, manufacturing, and materials; energy, computational and data-intensive science, and AI; mathematical physics, photonics and quantum materials; and space).
  • Projects in the areas of policy, economics, humanities, arts, and social sciences (especially innovation and entrepreneurship; international collaborative programs; technology and policy; and Russian studies in general, including Russian history, Russian art, and the Russian economy).
  • Non-research projects to promote engagement and collaboration in topics and activities that may impact Russia, Skoltech, or other Russian institutions, such as developing or teaching a course, student exchanges, event organization (such as a hackathon or other related activity).

The MIT Skoltech Seed Fund Program awards grants in amounts up to $75,000 for one year.

The application deadline is Friday, Jan. 26. To find more information or to apply, visit the Skoltech website.

MIT launches MITx MicroMasters in Principles of Manufacturing

MIT today announced the launch of the Institute’s third MITx MicroMasters program, in principles of manufacturing. The new program brings an advanced manufacturing curriculum to the MITx platform for the first time and enables learners worldwide to advance their careers by mastering the fundamental skills needed for global manufacturing excellence and competitiveness.

New manufacturing firms are growing at their fastest rate since 1993, as technology revolutionizes the field. The MITx Principles of Manufacturing MicroMasters program focuses on broad-based concepts that underlie all manufacturing environments, putting graduates of this unique program in a position to leverage the industry’s fast-paced growth. The graduate-level program enables engineers, product designers, and technology developers to advance their careers in a broad array of engineering capacities, including manufacturing, supply chain management, design, and product development.  

“Throughout an entire undergraduate degree program, the conventional engineering curriculum teaches students that everything is certain, and results are exact, ignoring inherent uncertainty,” says David Hardt, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. “All too often, people fail to get products, and even companies, across what’s known as the valley of death, which is the gap between small-volume and full-scale production. Their efforts fail because they haven’t been given the fundamental skill set for managing uncertainties associated with production rate, quality, and cost. And, that’s exactly what we do in this new program.”  

Noting the continued evolution of technologies, instability of supply chains, and introduction of new production processes, Hardt says that manufacturing technologies “change so quickly that unless students master the cohesive set of fundamentals that underlie production, they won’t know how to handle many of the unexpected challenges that arise. It’s not just about knowing the latest technologies. To be a good decision-maker in manufacturing, a person has to master the core principles that determine how to apply those technologies under uncertain conditions.”

By maintaining a technology-agnostic curriculum and embracing the fundamental principles that govern manufacturing, the MITx Principles of Manufacturing MicroMasters curriculum will maintain its relevance in this constantly changing environment.

The new MicroMasters program traces its roots back to the Master of Engineering in Advanced Manufacturing and Design, originally established at MIT in 2001 through the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology. This master’s program provides a launchpad for graduates to become innovative future leaders in established manufacturing firms and new entrepreneurial ventures. The MITx Principles of Manufacturing MicroMasters program announced today leverages this curriculum.

The MITx Principles of Manufacturing MicroMasters curriculum consists of eight online courses, which span the fields of process control, manufacturing systems, engineering management, and supply chain planning and design. Each course runs for eight weeks, and students who complete the entire curriculum and earn their MicroMasters credential will be eligible to apply to the Master of Engineering in Advanced Manufacturing and Design degree program on campus at MIT. If accepted, course credits earned through the MITx Principles of Manufacturing MicroMasters will be applied to the on-campus degree program, enabling students to earn their master’s in eight months. Principles of Manufacturing online coursework commences in March 2018. The first cohort of students who have earned their MicroMasters credential and been admitted to the on-campus master’s degree program will arrive at MIT in January 2020 and graduate that August.

“We are excited to help the MIT faculty who have spent many years crafting this innovative curriculum teach the principles of manufacturing to learners around the country and around the world,” says Dean for Digital Learning Krishna Rajagopal. “At a time when manufacturing is changing rapidly, we are happy to make this learning opportunity open to all. For those who wish to advance their careers, the MITx MicroMasters will be a valuable professional credential. They will also be eligible to accelerate their completion of a master’s degree at MIT — or elsewhere. We are using digital technologies to leverage MIT’s commitment to rigorous, high-quality curricula in a way that expands access to, and transforms, graduate-level education for working professionals.”

The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) will also offer a pathway to their Master of Science in Professional Studies that awards credit to learners who successfully complete the MITx Principles of Manufacturing MicroMasters credential and are then admitted to RIT. The RIT MS in Professional Studies is an innovative open curriculum environment that enables students to create a customized degree path that meets their educational or career objectives. The curriculum can include courses from multiple RIT graduate programs across two or three areas of study. RIT has been working with MITx since early 2017, and they currently offer a similar pathway to holders of the MITx Supply Chain Management MicroMasters credential.

“Digital technologies are enabling us to extend this cutting-edge manufacturing curriculum, which is the result of many years of research and development, to learners around the world regardless of their location or socioeconomic status,” says Vice President for Open Learning Sanjay Sarma. “The innovative application of open learning technologies has broken down barriers and enabled people of all ages and backgrounds to access world-class educational content. We hope that Principles of Manufacturing, MIT’s third MicroMasters program, will dramatically expand the opportunities for professional and lifelong learners to advance their careers and pursue their passions.”

Innovation, meet organization

Long before John Van Reenen became a professor at MIT, he was studying MIT topics in an MIT style.

“Technology has always been one of the motivations of my work,” says Van Reenen, a high-profile economist who joined the MIT faculty in 2016. More specifically, he adds, he likes to explore “how people come up with ideas, and how ideas spread, among firms and across countries.” In short, Van Reenen studies how our modern world keeps modernizing. 

Van Reenen became well-known, however, partly by explaining why people in his native Britain have not come up with ideas, at least not as much as they once did. In research during the 1990s, Van Reenen determined that British firms had lagging R&D investment across most of the country’s industrial sectors. This decline was compounded by a significant withdrawal of government support for R&D in the 1980s.

As a result, Britain had an innovation malaise that was real, but curable. Van Reenen’s prescription: more sensible tax plans to spur R&D investment and fuel the growth that comes from innovation.

“The traditional way we thought about innovation and technology was as if it’s dropped on us, like manna from heaven,” Van Reenen says. However, he adds, “Technology can respond to the social and economic environment. There are policies which can be used to spur the creation of new technologies.”

Creating new technologies is one thing; using them well is another. This, over the last decade, has turned out to be a new vein of Van Reenen research. Along with several colleagues, including his former student, Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom, Van Reenen has closely scrutinized how firms use innovations, while driving toward a still-larger question: Does management matter?

After empirical studies of management practices covering more than 10,000 firms in 20 countries, scrutinizing how firms set goals, keep track of data, and create incentives, Van Reenen has concluded: Yes, management matters greatly. Unless firms apply innovations shrewdly and use their employees well, the impact of technology turns out to be limited.

“We think about technology in a narrow sense — in terms of the hard technologies, such as computers or robots,” Van Reenen observes. “Whereas in fact the returns on those things vary tremendously, and the key factor is management. You can throw a lot of money at technology and it can all go down the drain. The organizational practices in the firm are absolutely critical to making best use of technology: how you manage your people, hire the right kind of people, motivate them, who gets the power.”

Indeed, Van Reenen suggests, the nature of technology often creates the need for innovative management.

“If anybody can buy a technology off the shelf, then you’re never going to have much of a competitive advantage just by doing that,” Van Reenen says. “For some of these things to be transformative, you have to transform the nature of your organization.”

Encouraged to join in

Van Reenen’s MIT appointment is jointly between the Department of Economics and the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he is the Gordon Y. Billard Professor of Management and Economics. It’s safe to say that his notion that management matters has been broadly noticed in the management world.

There are still other things Van Reenen studies, however. He has worked on health care policy as a British government policy official, examined the effects of automation on workers, and in recent years become a leading public voice about the overall economic impact of Brexit on Britain’s economy.

Van Reenen’s presence in academia and the public sphere is such that he was awarded the Medal of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2016, for services to economics and public policy. (Other recipients that year included four-minute mile pioneer Roger Bannister and musician Ray Davies of The Kinks.)

Van Reenen’s midcareer jump to MIT is notable, then, considering how embedded he was in his home country. Van Reenen grew up in London, where his father was a sociology professor. As Van Reenen notes, he comes from a “long line of teachers.” His grandfather was the headmaster of a school in South Africa, who became a political refugee and settled in Britain. Growing up, visits to his grandparents’ house helped Van Reenen find interest in global affairs.

“I always remember as a kid, every Sunday we’d go round there for dinner or for lunch, and there would always be lots of animated political discussion about world events, and what was happening, and as kids we were always encouraged from an early age to join in,” Van Reenen recalls. “So that was kind of the formation of my interest in thinking about the world.”

Van Reenen received his undergraduate degree from Queen’s College, University of Cambridge, earned a master’s degree in industrial relations from the London School of Economics, and was granted his PhD in Economics from University College London in 1993. He then taught on the faculty at University College London for about a decade.

Job description: Change the world

It was during this period that Van Reenen took time off from academia and entered government, working on health care policy when Tony Blair was prime minister. The government was then trying to refine the delivery of health care; Van Reenen, by his own account, did not participate in any grand policy shifts but learned a great deal.

“That was a very good experience for me in the sense that I got an appreciation of how difficult it is to persuade people to implement policies,” he says. “You can have the best idea in the world, but in order to convince skeptics you need to spend a lot of time talking to people, presenting the results in the most pithy way. I gained a lot more respect for people who spend their lives as civil servants or in politics trying to do these things. It’s a lot harder than you imagine on the outside.”

Returning to academia, Van Reenen joined the faculty at the London School of Economics, where he became head of the Center for Economic Performance (CEP), an academic think tank where he oversaw a staff of around 100 while continuing his own work. The CEP actively aims to inform public debate about large-scale economic matters; it is akin to a Washington think tank but hosted by a university.

“We tried to be a bridge between academic work and the policy world, in order to contribute toward the debate,” Van Reenen says. “It’s a constant battle for engagement, a battle for hearts and minds. You have to be very active.”

In his role as CEP head, Van Reenen became very involved in a recent contentious event: Brexit, Britain’s 2016 vote by referendum to leave the European Union, in a form still to be determined. Van Reenen became a leading expert warning of the economic pitfalls of Brexit. He makes no secret of his frustration with the pro-Brexit political campaign, which adopted a sharply anti-expert and anti-immigrant focus.

“If you look at the research on the economic impact of European immigration into the U.K., it’s been very positive,” Van Reenen says. “Immigrants pay more in tax than they take out in benefits. But it’s hard to break through when large parts of the media are saying the opposite.”

At the Institute

By the time Brexit narrowly passed in June 2016, however, Van Reenen had already agreed to join MIT, to launch what he sees as a new phase in his career. The Institute is a natural destination for a scholar studying the causes and consequences of innovation.

“MIT is a fantastic fit for my interests,” says Van Reenen. “There are a lot of economists who do this here, but also noneconomists who are creating the future.”

Besides, Van Reenen adds: “The U.S. is the center of the world for economics, and MIT is the center of the U.S. for economics.”

Now that he is settled in, Van Reenen’s current work on the impact of technology is taking still another turn. He is increasingly examining the effects of technology on work and employment, an interest he shares with many MIT Sloan faculty, as well as Department of Economics colleagues such as Daron Acemoglu and David Autor.

In fact, along with Autor and three other co-authors, Van Reenen has contended in recent studies that the rise of “superstar” firms with massive market power helps explain a central economic question: why the growth of wages, for many workers, has slowed down in recent decades. Today’s corporate giants have added revenue without increasing labor costs much, the research finds — in part because of their applications of technology.

“If you want to understand why inequality has increased so much in the last 40 years, one of the fundamental facts is new technologies,” Van Reenen observes. His own mother, he notes, worked in a bank but today would likely not find that work available. “That was a good job, but her job has disappeared. ATMs have basically gotten rid of those types of jobs. Some groups in the middle of the income distribution have lost out with technology.”

Van Reenen plans to continue that kind of work — and to continue airing his findings and ideas, in his role as a very public-minded thinker.

“I’ve always thought that’s part of the job of any intellectual,” Van Reenen says. “Not just to think about the world but to try to participate, to change it for the better.”

Worldwide change takes global effort

In keeping with its mission to expand access to affordable education around the world through the innovative use of online learning, MIT Open Learning welcomes an international university that has elected to grant course credits to their students who complete the MITx MicroMasters in Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP). The American University in Cairo (AUC) will be the first school in the world to pair with MIT in accepting the DEDP MicroMasters credential to help students embark on their master’s education.

The engagement with AUC was first initiated as part of an Al Ghurair Foundation for Education (AGFE) and MIT collaboration to enhance and expand the use of online learning in the Arab world as well as to integrate digital learning into university courses. The collaboration includes utilizing MITx courses as models for blended learning on campus and demonstrating the potential of online tools for STEM education. AGFE has also been supporting Arab world learners who participate in MicroMasters programs with scholarships.

MicroMasters programs are open to all learners throughout the world. The only requirement is that they have access to the online curriculum. The DEDP program was designed by MIT’s Department of Economics in conjunction with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). J-PAL is a research center at MIT whose mission is to combat poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. J-PAL does this through research, policy outreach, and training, utilizing its network of 158 affiliated professors from 51 universities and staff in six regional offices. The DEDP program consists of five courses, which provide students with rigorous training in development economics, microeconomics, program design and evaluation, and data analysis.

“We’re excited to see the enthusiasm for our program — both from learners and universities. At this point, we have students from 190 countries working hard to master the material and earn our MicroMasters credential,” explains Esther Duflo, director of J-PAL. “When universities recognize these learners’ efforts by offering credit for our classes this creates new opportunities for students all over the world. Universities often struggle to spot talent in unusual places, stacking the cards against those who didn’t attend prestigious universities for their undergraduate degrees. The MicroMasters helps alleviate these issues, as universities — MIT included — can rely on the credential to select the best and the brightest regardless of background. We see enormous potential in this blended learning model, and are thrilled that others see it, too.”

The DEDP program was designed to be accessible to people in any stage of life, including those with work and family responsibilities, and was priced to be affordable to everyone regardless of their economic background. After completing the five online courses and passing in-person assessments, students are eligible to apply for an accelerated degree program through the Master of Applied Science in Data, Economics and Development Policy at MIT or the Master of Arts in Economics in International Development at AUC.

“Blending online learning with learning that happens on our campuses can help us transform how we educate professionals around the world, for the world,” says Krishna Rajagopal, dean for digital learning at MIT. “We have a long history of pedagogical innovation at MIT; digital learning is the new frontier, bringing us new ways to share how we teach with the world. We are excited that AUC will offer credit towards their own master’s programs to students who complete the DEDP MicroMasters credential and pass the AUC admissions process, and we believe that their collaboration will advance the education and careers of many learners who would not otherwise have been able to complete master’s degrees.”

Online and blended learning initiatives offer universities the ability to rethink and reinvent education. From inverting the classroom to inverting admissions, digital technologies are transforming the traditional education model. They are creating a dynamic, adaptable system that can scale educational programs while dramatically reducing cost, particularly in poor and developing regions where access would otherwise be prohibitively difficult.

“We collect evaluations and feedback from learners who engage in the MITx MicroMasters programs,” says Tracy Tan, director of MicroMasters programs at MIT Open Learning. “Collectively, the students report a tremendous interest in continuing their educations. In fact, recent survey results show that more than 50 percent of MITx MicroMasters learners report a desire to pursue their first or second master’s degree.”

Extraordinary change is coming to worldwide education, but transformations require the cumulative efforts of a global community. MIT seeks to establish a robust network of universities around the globe that develop pathways to educate the growing population of learners. While global universities like AUC are known throughout the world, regional universities and community colleges can also benefit by expanding their capacity to develop and deliver innovative educational opportunities to their students.

“Through the DEDP MicroMasters program and other open learning initiatives, we look to identify and engage talented people who are passionate about learning,” says Sanjay Sarma, vice president of open learning at MIT. “By building upon our online learning initiatives, we hope that AUC can reach new and vibrant learning communities and help deliver high-quality education and life-changing experiences to all corners of the globe.”

New technique allows rapid screening for new types of solar cells

The worldwide quest by researchers to find better, more efficient materials for tomorrow’s solar panels is usually slow and painstaking. Researchers typically must produce lab samples — which are often composed of multiple layers of different materials bonded together — for extensive testing.

Now, a team at MIT and other institutions has come up with a way to bypass such expensive and time-consuming fabrication and testing, allowing for a rapid screening of far more variations than would be practical through the traditional approach.

The new process could not only speed up the search for new formulations, but also do a more accurate job of predicting their performance, explains Rachel Kurchin, an MIT graduate student and co-author of a paper describing the new process that appears this week in the journal Joule. Traditional methods “often require you to make a specialized sample, but that differs from an actual cell and may not be fully representative” of a real solar cell’s performance, she says.

For example, typical testing methods show the behavior of the “majority carriers,” the predominant particles or vacancies whose movement produces an electric current through a material. But in the case of photovoltaic (PV) materials, Kurchin explains, it is actually the minority carriers — those that are far less abundant in the material — that are the limiting factor in a device’s overall efficiency, and those are much more difficult to measure. In addition, typical procedures only measure the flow of current in one set of directions — within the plane of a thin-film material — whereas it’s up-down flow that is  actually harnessed in a working solar cell. In many materials, that flow can be “drastically different,” making it critical to understand in order to properly characterize the material, she says.

“Historically, the rate of new materials development is slow — typically 10 to 25 years,” says Tonio Buonassisi, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT and senior author of the paper. “One of the things that makes the process slow is the long time it takes to troubleshoot early-stage prototype devices,” he says. “Performing characterization takes time — sometimes weeks or months — and the measurements do not always have the necessary sensitivity to determine the root cause of any problems.”

So, Buonassisi says, “the bottom line is, if we want to accelerate the pace of new materials development, it is imperative that we figure out faster and more accurate ways to troubleshoot our early-stage materials and prototype devices.” And that’s what the team has now accomplished. They have developed a set of tools that can be used to make accurate, rapid assessments of proposed materials, using a series of relatively simple lab tests combined with computer modeling of the physical properties of the material itself, as well as additional modeling based on a statistical method known as Bayesian inference.

The system involves making a simple test device, then measuring its current output under different levels of illumination and different voltages, to quantify exactly how the performance varies under these changing conditions. These values are then used to refine the statistical model.

“After we acquire many current-voltage measurements [of the sample] at different temperatures and illumination intensities, we need to figure out what combination of materials and interface variables make the best fit with our set of measurements,” Buonassisi explains. “Representing each parameter as a probability distribution allows us to account for experimental uncertainty, and it also allows us to suss out which parameters are covarying.”

The Bayesian inference process allows the estimates of each parameter to be updated based on each new measurement, gradually refining the estimates and homing in ever closer to the precise answer, he says.

In seeking a combination of materials for a particular kind of application, Kurchin says, “we put in all these materials properties and interface properties, and it will tell you what the output will look like.”

The system is simple enough that, even for materials that have been less well-characterized in the lab, “we’re still able to run this without tremendous computer overhead.” And, Kurchin says, making use of the computational tools to screen possible materials will be increasingly useful because “lab equipment has gotten more expensive, and computers have gotten cheaper. This method allows you to minimize your use of complicated lab equipment.”

The basic methodology, Buonassisi says, could be applied to a wide variety of different materials evaluations, not just solar cells — in fact, it may apply to any system that involves a computer model for the output of an experimental measurement. “For example, this approach excels in figuring out which material or interface property might be limiting performance, even for complex stacks of materials like batteries, thermoelectric devices, or composites used in tennis shoes or airplane wings.” And, he adds, “It is especially useful for early-stage research, where many things might be going wrong at once.”

Going forward, he says, “our vision is to link up this fast characterization method with the faster materials and device synthesis methods we’ve developed in our lab.” Ultimately, he says,  “I’m very hopeful the combination of high-throughput computing, automation, and machine learning will help us accelerate the rate of novel materials development by more than a factor of five. This could be transformative, bringing the timelines for new materials-science discoveries down from 20 years to about three to five years.”

The research team also included Riley Brandt ’11, SM ’13, PhD ’16; former postdoc Vera Steinmann; MIT graduate student Daniil Kitchaev and visiting professor Gerbrand Ceder, Chris Roat at Google Inc.; and Sergiu Levcenco and Thomas Unold at Hemholz Zentrum in Berlin. The work was supported by a Google Faculty Research Award, the U.S. Department of Energy, and a Total research grant.

How to turn clinicians into makers

In hospitals in North and South America, nurses are hacking medical equipment to improve patient care. Using off-the-shelf materials, they’ve created prescription bottles for the visually impaired, pipe systems to irrigate wounds of burn victims, low-cost feeding-tube holders, and other innovations.

These are products of MIT spinout MakerHealth, a company providing training and resources — and even furnishing on-site makerspaces — to encourage nurses to become makers.

Working the front lines of health care, nurses can often spot opportunities for improving medical devices or creating new ones. They might think, however, that writing a grant or creating a go-to-market strategy is the only way to get the idea off the ground. MakerHealth offers an alternative.

“We say, ‘What if you just made it?’” says Jose Gomez-Marquez, who co-founded the company with Anna Young. Both are researchers at MIT’s Little Devices Lab within the International Design Center. “If it helps 10, 50, or 100 patients and saves the hospital $1 million a year in, say, avoided surgery, that’s a win.”

So far, MakerHealth has built makerspaces at the John Sealy Hospital and University of Texas Medical Branch, in Galveston, Texas, and at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, Massachusetts. The design of the makerspaces is led by Principal Engineer Nikolas Albarran ’15. The company has also delivered toolkits — collections of materials and tools for hacking hospital equipment — and run workshops at a dozen other hospitals, in New York, Virginia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and elsewhere.

In late November, Young traveled to Chile to speak with the Ministry of Health about establishing a national MakerHealth certification program, which would train clinicians to create medical devices and navigate how to advance a prototype. “We’ve trained over 600 clinicians on different prototyping technologies and methods. But to have a Ministry of Health-approved certification on the training framework is a major step,” Young says.

In a separate piece of good news for the startup, through the MassChallenge 2017 accelerator, MakerHealth last month received a grant from Boeing and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space — $500,000 to split with two other MassChallenge teams — to trial in the International Space Station a modular biochemical manufacturing platform the team created.

The device consists of a chain of small plastic blocks that can be filled with different chemicals. Chemicals pass between blocks and react with each other. Blocks can be switched around and removed, allowing for rapid testing of reactions between two or more different chemicals. As gravity plays an adverse role in fluid flow, using the device in microgravity will improve the device’s reliability and speed, according to MakerHealth. The device could be used by biologists and medical professionals to create diagnostics, nanoparticles, bioprocessing procedures, and one day, pharmaceuticals.

Finding “stealth nurses”

In the mid-2000s, Gomez-Marquez, a Honduras native who comes from a family of medical professionals, formed several teams to compete in the MIT IDEAS competition, pitching inventions such as an inhalable vaccine for measles and an ultrasonic cane that bounced signals off walls to alert visually impaired users.

In 2008, he was hired to teach a medical device design class and run a global health initiative out of MIT’s D-Lab. There, he met Young, a maker and researcher who had developed, among other things, a solar-powered autoclave to sterilize medical instruments in off-grid and rural clinics. In her travels to developing countries, she had noticed clinicians making modifications to medical devices to help treat patients. 

Inspired to bring MIT’s rapid-prototyping spirit to hospitals in developing countries, the two researchers earned a grant from the Inter-American Development Bank to pilot a maker training program in Nicaragua. They brought hardware and resources to two hospitals in the country, training the clinicians with the MIT curriculum. Results were impressive: Nurses created, for instance, a centrifuge from a toy Ferris wheel and an IV alarm using a toy gun that shot off when the bag drained too much.

Before returning to MIT, Gomez-Marquez and Young also turned an unused room near one hospital into a makerspace and learned something surprising about the innovators. Around the hospital, they saw a host of new inventions, but no doctors or nurses took credit. “At the end of the day, it was nurses making these things, but they were incredibly shy and wouldn’t talk about it,” Gomez-Marquez says. “There was a lot of innovation happening underground, buried. It wasn’t being recognized.”

In 2013, the concept of these so-called “stealth nurses” caught the attention of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the researchers so they could bring their model to the U.S. Surveying hospitals across the nation, they zeroed in on five hospitals that employed many enthusiastic stealth nurses — the three in Texas and Massachusetts, plus one in Virginia and one in New York City. This led to the launch of MakerNurse, a research project at Little Devices Lab that was the precursor to MakerHealth. (The names MakerHealth and MakerNurse are both still in use today for the same company.)

In the early days of MakerHealth, the founders received help from MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service (VMS) — “one of the hidden jewels” at MIT, Gomez-Marquez says. Among other things, VMS mentors helped the co-founders navigate legal issues, partnership deals, and other challenges. “Having a team of people that will sit down with you, in the middle of their busy schedule, and talk to you for an hour — that’s huge,” Gomez-Marquez says. “That’s been more valuable than any [financial] investment.”

Physical and digital making

Today, MakerHealth makerspaces include custom designed modules, tools, and machines geared toward the challenges facing clinicians, such as issues with telemedicine and acute patient care.

Over the years, MakerHealth clinicians in the Texas and Massachusetts hospitals and other places have created numerous notable projects. There’s a modified Raspberry Pi that images pathology samples — a $100 device that replaces a $100,000 machine — and a more secure infant CPAP mask that keeps the tubing in place by stringing it to a hat made from a compression sock. One nurse, Ernesto Holguin, recently received MakerNurse’s InfyMakers award for a Raspberry Pi-powered diabetic foot monitoring device he hopes to deploy in his El Paso, Texas, hospital.

Some fairly simple yet effective ideas include spraying nearly identical pills with different colored icing to differentiate them and a hands-free nebulizer made by the parent of a cystic fibrosis patient. More complex projects include a smart spirometer, powered by a Bluetooth microcontroller, that sends patient data to a mobile app.

Some of the most creative inventors work in wound care and critical care units, Young says. Jason Sheaffer of the University of Texas Medical Branch, for instance, erected a system of PVC pipes with holes in them over a burn unit tub where burn victims are treated. Running water through the pipes creates an irrigation system to aid in treatment. A wound vacuum kit, developed at the UnityPoint Health in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has a modular alarm to alert the care team when suction is lost. There’s also a 3-D-printed simulation model, created by Roxana Reyna, a nurse in Corpus Christi, Texas, that has a deep hole in it, representing a wound. Nurses can practice treating the wound on the model, instead of on a live, suffering patient.

“People call these the unmentionables of medicine,” Gomez-Marquez says. “It has nothing to do with making a cool wearable that tracks your steps. These are people on the front lines, thinking about these types of important hacks.”

Recently, the company launched a “Makerspace in the Cloud” license that is available to hospitals and medical and nursing schools. This platform guides clinicians through fabrication and testing processes, “prescribing” suggested tools and materials, features, and designs. As part of the platform, makers are also guided through efficacy tests, evidence gathering, and approval processes for their devices.

Like the physical makerspaces, the digital makerspace aims to push clinicians to act on ideas. “We’re seeing the hang-up in going from this amorphous idea to the first prototype,” Young says. “But they’re amazed they can do it, and someone gives them permission to do it.”

MakerHealth is currently focused on refining the cloud-based platform and growing the network of hospital makerspaces. Apart from its Chile initiative, the company is also gearing up to expand into Africa through collaborations with iLEAD in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Dakar, Senegal, in partnership with the Klapperich Lab at Boston University, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “We set out to democratize the tools to create medical devices. We are so excited to now support a global community of health makers who are not only creating the devices, but sharing them,” Young says.

Exploring ethical dimensions of climate negotiation

At this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23), delegates from around the world worked on strategies to accelerate progress toward the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement — with or without the continued official involvement of the United States. As negotiators worked to find common ground, MIT researchers from different technology and social science backgrounds shared their ideas for climate action.

Delivered at various side events, their messages to delegates and other climate stakeholders from around the world converged on several key elements that could enhance chances of successful climate policy implementation, including: empowering people and governments by facilitating access to open-source tools and strategies; integrating fairness and transparency into negotiations; and cultivating a deep understanding of the needs and priorities of the other side, to achieve mutual gains that benefit the climate, environment, and each side’s economy.

Negotiating for mutual gains

Michael Mehling, deputy director of MIT’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research, discussed cross-border climate collaboration for mutual gains at a side event on the role of trade policy in aiding implementation of the Paris Agreement, held by Climate Strategies, a network of researchers, and the German Development Institute. Drawing on his own research, which includes work with Climate Strategies, Mehling pointed out the “growing heterogeneity of climate action, ambition, and differences across countries” — the widening gap between the most and least ambitious countries in terms of commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as cause for concern.

Mehling and his colleagues have found that border carbon adjustments — measures applied to imports and/or exports — can be effective in evening out climate efforts, but can also be “enormously controversial.” Citing a policy report he co-authored, Mehling outlined steps to design a border carbon adjustment policy to ensure fairness and transparency, such as applying any revenues generated toward furthering the country’s environmental objectives and benefiting developing countries affected by the measure.

“To facilitate continued growth of ambition and domestic climate policies in those countries or those jurisdictions that do want to move faster, this may become a useful tool to allow them to do so without domestic political backlash,” he said.

Negotiation strategies that foster mutual gains are also at the heart of Bruno Verdini’s research. At side events in Bonn, he shared the importance of implementing steps that facilitate collaboration between stakeholders with different values and priorities to proactively deal with climate risks.

Verdini, a lecturer in urban planning and negotiation and the executive director of the MIT-Harvard Mexico Negotiation Program, contrasted moves that are common in disputes in the public arena but are frequently detrimental to implementable outcomes, such as making threats or extreme demands, with techniques that empower both sides to address core concerns and cooperate effectively.

He said, “As a negotiator, you owe your organization and the people you represent a significant amount of preparation to test your assumptions, identify blind spots, and account for multiple scenarios.” Verdini continued, “You want to foster a dynamic of reciprocity, so that when stakeholders sit at the table, you show that you’ve done the work to put yourself in their shoes and develop persuasive opportunities that allocate benefits instead of solely costs — and in turn claim your fair share.”

He has expanded on these ideas in a new book, “Winning Together: The Natural Resource Negotiation Playbook” (MIT Press, 2017).

Verdini gave a recent example of joint resource management between the U.S. and Mexico that has yielded positive results. During the current drought affecting much of the Colorado River Basin, the metropolitan water agencies in Nevada, Arizona, and California realized that many of the canals across the Mexican border were not lined with concrete, which meant a significant portion of the water annually delivered to Mexico was being lost to seepage. By financing infrastructure improvements on the Mexican side, the U.S. could, in effect, “create new water,” and Mexico could trade a portion of this “excess” water back to the U.S. at a less expensive rate than it would cost the U.S. to buy water rights north of the border.

“At MIT, we focus on empowering our undergraduates to thrive in any industry through a mutual gains approach to negotiation,” Verdini said. In his popular negotiation class, students hone their leadership skills through weekly role-play simulations, several of which center on energy, water, and environmental management.

John Sterman, a professor of management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, has also long recognized the power of role-play in experiencing another’s perspective on climate issues. Speaking at a side event, he shared research on the effectiveness of the World Climate role-play, developed with colleagues at the not-for-profit organization Climate Interactive.

“Research shows that showing people research doesn’t work,” Sterman said. Instead, World Climate participants experience the challenges faced by developing and developed nations firsthand. Taking on the roles of nations different from their own, they negotiate solutions where all parties commit to keeping global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius by contributing their fair share to greenhouse gas reductions, using a climate modeling tool to test the impacts of their decisions.

Preliminary findings indicate that World Climate — which has reached more than 35,000 participants in 75 countries — is more impactful than traditional lectures, and is effective with liberal and conservative participants alike. Sterman noted that the simulation “produces large gains not only in knowledge of climate change, but also in people’s sense of urgency and the belief that they can make a difference. It’s the emotional impact of the experience that drives their desire to learn more and their intent to act in the real world.”

During COP23, Sterman and colleagues held World Climate sessions at the University of Bonn and other venues around the city.

Empowering climate action, fostering collaboration

At an event organized by a group of U.S. business, nonprofit, and philanthropic leaders, Jessika Trancik, an associate professor in energy systems at MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS), discussed how research can be used to empower individuals to make economically and environmentally beneficial choices. She gave an example of research her team has conducted that compares popular personal vehicles in terms of their carbon emissions, which the team has released in an app for the public called “Carboncounter.”

“What you see is that you don’t actually have to pay more for a low-carbon-emitting vehicle today. You can save money and save emissions by going for an electric car, for example,” she said, adding that public policies can spur a “virtuous cycle” of technological improvements that in turn lead to cost reductions and increased performance, which in this case could extend vehicle range and meet climate targets.

Trancik spoke about the roles researchers can play in continuing to move the U.S. toward emissions reductions and informed climate policy — helping to ensure that in an era of limited federal funding, time and money are invested wisely in policies that research has shown to be effective.

“We need to spend time together as researchers, as policymakers, as people in the private sector, in order to identify important questions and make sure that this research is useful to policymakers and also that it reaches them,” she said.

Magdalena Klemun, a fourth-year PhD student, and postdoc Morgan Edwards SM ’13, PhD ’17 — both of IDSS — joined Trancik at COP23. They interviewed policymakers and academics to explore how subnational actors can impact global climate action and help continue progress in clean energy innovation.

“We’re specifically interested in how universities can support this process through academic research and on-campus demonstration projects,” said Klemun.

Likewise, MIT Climate CoLab researchers work to bring together citizens and governments to develop and evaluate effective climate action solutions, “harnessing the collective intelligence of thousands of people all over the world at a scale and with a degree of collaboration that was never possible before,” said Thomas Malone, director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI), at a side event on how subnational actors in Latin America and the Caribbean could advance climate goals.

Malone, who is also a professor of management at MIT Sloan, described a crowd-sourcing initiative under development, the Climate Plan Accelerator: “an online network that can help governments at all levels and other organizations develop detailed, expert-validated plans for how to achieve or exceed their climate action goals.” Malone was joined in Bonn by CCI colleagues Laur Hesse Fisher, the Climate CoLab project manager, and Kathleen Kennedy, director of special initiatives.

Another side event convened more than 100 developers from around the world for a hackathon to develop blockchain-based climate solutions.

“We are working on how blockchain technologies can play an enabling role to resolve the trust problem — one of the core fundamental barriers to how we confront the climate change challenges that the world is facing,” said Michael Casey, a senior lecturer at MIT Sloan and senior advisor for the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. Casey, one of the organizers of the Hack for Climate side event, explained how these technologies could aid climate mitigation, adaptation, and finance efforts by allowing storage and sharing of information and data through a secure, trusted mechanism.

Two MIT students, Stephen Lee and Erick Pinos, participated in the hackathon.

“I’m here as part of my undergraduate research into how we can use blockchain to make decentralized community solar microgrids in a localized community of the Caribbean islands,” said Pinos, who is studying management and computer science and is president of the MIT Bitcoin Club.

Lee, a master’s student in the Technology and Policy Program and in electrical engineering and computer science, is researching energy access planning in the developing world through the Tata Center for Technology and Design’s Universal Access Lab.

“We’re looking at how blockchain technologies can finance some of these energy projects,” he said.

John Fernández, a professor of building technology and director of the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative, was also in Bonn to explore opportunities for collaboration — especially around nature-based solutions, a major focus of the initiative.

“I spent time discussing strategies with a number of organizations focused on protecting and enhancing natural systems and their capacity for mitigating emissions and helping with the consequences of sea level rise, extreme weather, heat waves, and other coming challenges,” he said.

Other MIT delegation members in Bonn included Tom Kiley, who advises Vice President for Research Maria Zuber on the Institute’s climate action efforts; Horacio Caperan, who heads external affairs for the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change; and Cambridge-MIT Exchange Program alumnus Jonas Knapp.

“As countries continue the complicated work of implementing the Paris Agreement, and as cities, regions, businesses, and universities step up their efforts to support the agreement’s goals, it was heartening to see such an impressive delegation from MIT in Bonn,” Kiley said. “By learning from other delegates, and by contributing new tools, ideas, and research insights to the conversations, MIT’s delegation demonstrated what we mean when we say that we want to take what we’re learning here and apply it to help make a better world.”

Bridging the gap between citizens and scientists

Known worldwide as a center of leading science and engineering research, MIT also boasts an influential program whose graduates advance scientific knowledge in another way — as science writers working for a broad spectrum of news outlets ranging from the online Atlas Obscura to National Geographic and The Washington Post.

Staffed by leaders in the field that include bestselling authors Seth Mnookin (“Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy”) and Alan Lightman (“Einstein’s Dreams”), as well as award-winning documentary filmmaker Thomas Levenson (NOVA’s “Einstein Revealed”), the MIT Graduate Program in Science Writing (GPSW) prepares students to inform the public about critical issues ranging from medical breakthroughs to climate change. Graduates of the one-year master’s program have earned some of the top awards in journalism, including the Pulitzer Prize.

GPSW graduate Lisa Song ’09 was on the team at Inside Climate News, a web-based nonprofit covering energy and environmental science, that won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for its seven-month investigation of a million-gallon tar sands oil spill in the Kalamazoo River. Song was also on a reporting team named a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Today she writes for ProPublica, an nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism.

Phil McKenna SM ’07, who has written for Smithsonian and National Geographic, won the 2013 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award and the 2014 NASW Science in Society Award for a feature written for the online magazine Matter on gas leaks under U.S. cities.

“These are the kind of investigative stories that might be key to changing policy,” McKenna says.

New platforms and formats

As a group, MIT’s GPSW graduates demonstrate that it’s possible to flourish in journalism despite the current turmoil in the industry.

“Virtually every metropolitan daily newspaper has eliminated its dedicated science section, which means a loss of many staff jobs,” says Mnookin, director of the program and the Ford Career Development Associate Professor in Comparative Media Studies/Writing.

Yet even as traditional journalism platforms collapse, Mnookin says “we are seeing the creation of new outlets that are doing incredible work and that fill a void.” These include not-for-profit websites and subscription models for old and new publications. Here, many of the GPSW graduates find positions where they thrive producing works that shine light on the exciting, complex, and challenging issues that emerge at the forefront of science and technology.

Carolyn Johnson SM ’04, former lead science writer for The Boston Globe who now covers health care issues and policy for The Washington Post, says “people are reading/watching/consuming more than ever before. The value of explaining things about how the world works remains despite the uncertainty about the future.”

Inside Climate News reporter Zahra Hirji SM ’13 agrees. That’s one reason she made switched to science writing from geology, her undergraduate major at Brown University. Hirji realized during a summer internship tracking lava flows that she would rather write about earth science than conduct scientific research in a lab. When she determined to make a career in science journalism, she chose GPSW because of its support for long-form writing.

“I had a story kicking around in my head tied to the risk of a future volcanic eruption and its impact on Hawaii,” she says. “I knew I’d need resources and editorial help for my story, and it was obvious MIT’s program was the one.”

With instruction from such GPSW professors as Marcia Bartusiak, a physicist and journalist, Hirji learned how to research and dig deep into her topic. “Sinking my teeth into different areas, my writing dramatically improved,” she says. With the program’s assistance, she visited Hawaiian archives so she could re-construct what happened in a 1984 volcanic eruption.

A passion for facts and truth 

The passion for relating important stories is central to the program, Mnookin says. “I tell all our students that unless you’re in love with journalism, it’s not something you should do.”

For those who do love the field, GPSW is a special place, graduates say, one that provides them with both the means and the methods to expand public understanding of science, technology, and medicine.

“It was like the Camelot of science writing, where you could work one-on-one with top people in the field, which was both amazing and terrifying,” McKenna says. “There were so many opportunities in and out of the classroom; it was drinking from the proverbial MIT fire hose.”

McKenna’s initial journalistic interest was conservation biology, from condor rehabilitation to whooping crane migration. But at GPSW, he says, “I was pressed to write outside my comfort zone and to learn about fields like physics and astronomy, so I could write on a range of topics.”

For her part, Johnson credits the 15-year-old program’s supportive faculty with kick-starting her successful writing career. She joined The Boston Globe soon after graduating, became the newspaper’s lead science writer in 2008, and launched the paper’s “Science in Mind” blog in November 2012. “I had never even done an interview prior to the program,” she says.

Similarly, Cara Giaimo SM ’15, a staff writer for the online Atlas Obscura, says, “I came in without a lot of newswriting experience, and with only a cursory understanding of the contemporary media landscape. But over the course of the program, I learned what I had to do to understand a topic, write a story, and build my career as a writer.”

With a background in field biology, Giaimo wrote her MIT thesis about two members of the urban wildlife in Austin, Texas — a bat population the public rallied around, and a salamander species that was less beloved. Today, she produces three pieces each week for Atlas Obscura, often exploring the theme of human impact on nature.

She’s also learning on the job about the business of a media startup with investors and advertisers — broadening her skills in a way Mnookin says is key to succeeding as a journalist today.

“We emphasize students’ ability to work as independent operators, creating viable employment not through one but a handful of different employers,” he says. “We’d love it if they were entrepreneurial and started their own outlets.”
 
Tools and skills for viable careers

GPSW works hard to make a journalism career viable for its students, he notes. “We view finding ways to support our students financially as a moral issue.”

Beyond providing rigorous training, professional contacts, and placement opportunities, the program has been revamping its curriculum and bringing on faculty to teach data analysis, and skills for generating websites, podcasts, and videos — ensuring graduates have every tool they need for a successful career path.

This support has been critical for Hirji, who got assistance from GPSW to land an internship at ICN the summer after graduation. She began at ICN by “helping out with the website, social media, and business things.” Today, she reports news and contributes to investigative pieces, including articles on dangerous pollutants in fracking waste streams, and on the history of ExxonMobil’s company research on climate change.

“Reporting can change the world,” she says.

3Q: Institute Professor John Deutch on maintaining US leadership in technological innovation

MIT Institute Professor John Deutch, who has been on the MIT faculty since 1970, has served as a department head, dean of the School of Science, and provost, and has published over 160 technical publications as well as numerous publications on technology, energy, international security, and public policy issues. He served in the U.S. government as director of central intelligence from 1995 to 1996, as deputy secretary of defense from 1994 to 1995, and in other posts in the departments of Defense and Energy. He is a member of the nonpartisan Aspen Strategy Group, which is composed of current and former policymakers, academics, journalists, and business leaders whose aim is to explore foreign policy and national security challenges facing the United States. The group has just released its annual report, and it includes a chapter co-written by Deutch and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, about how the U.S. should deal with the risk of losing important intellectual property rights regarding technological innovations, in the face of efforts by China to acquire such technology through underhanded means. MIT News asked Deutch to describe the potential risks and remedies for such actions that he and Rice outlined in their report.

Q: What was the challenge that you and Prof. Rice, now at Stanford Business School, were asked to address in this piece, and what conclusions did you reach?

A: This year the subject [of the Aspen Strategy Group’s annual report] was the future challenges we see for policy. There was a lot of talk about China and what its relationship with the United States is likely to be, and in the course of this there was a lot of discussion about national security and the tremendous emphasis in China’s new five-year plan on technology, in key areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. There also was a great deal of discussion about nefarious activities by some in China, including trying to get certain Chinese nationals who live here to provide information to the Chinese government to help them acquire this advanced technology. As a result of that, there’s been a hint of a new set of proposals from some elements of the natonal security community to, first, control information in the United States from leaving the country, and, second, restrict Chinese nationals from participating in certain kinds of research projects. Condi and I decided to write a short piece about the danger of these proposals.

Basically our view was, yes, the Chinese are putting a greater emphasis on technology; they are growing very fast and they’re increasingly competent, and so we should expect greater competition. And yes, they are performing illegal acts against the U.S., especially theft of intellectual property. The U.S. should do everything it can to push back on that effort and prevent it if possible. But the idea that we should respond to this threat by either restricting access to U.S. universities or keeping our ideas in the United States is completely wrong. We’ll lose the tremendous advantage we have of an open university system if we do that. The only answer is for U.S. universities to do even more in pursuing their great record of being innovative and creative.

Q: Do you think it’s possible to maintain academic freedom of information in the context of dealing with people who may not share our commitment to protecting intellectual property?

A: In such a situation, we need to recognize that we will have some losses. But there will be more severe effects on our innovative enterprise, which is the best in the world, if we start trying to stop these losses by applying restrictions. Universities aren’t very good, first of all, at assessing the nature of the risk [of intellectual-property loss] and, second, at deciding what restrictive measures should be put in place. So, both my co-author Condi and I believe, keep the system open. Recognize that you will have some losses, but do what you do well.

Universities should make sure that our scholarly efforts and our educational efforts permit advances in key areas where fundamental research and practical application come together, in health, energy, and environment, including an emphasis on innovation. And we see that happening. By the way, much as the Chinese universities are improving, they do not have the kind of ecosystem that is so strong here, in terms of promoting innovation, creativity, and getting important things implemented in the private sector.

Q:  So are there specific measures that universities should be taking to address these efforts to exploit U.S. innovations, or is your advice that they should avoid taking any special measures?

A: My answer is no, there are not specific measures they should take, but it is very important that the administrative leadership of the university understands the concerns in Washington, appreciates the risks, and doesn’t enter into joint projects that could really lead to a loss of sensitive technology.

The universities should try and explain to the government that we think the proper response here is better performance by U.S. universities, rather than trying to keep people out or keep our ideas in.

I think one should expect that the technical competence of China will continue to improve, because of the capabilities of its people and the significant amount of resources the Chinese are putting into technology leadership in a variety of fields. We should expect that. How much of an advantage is given to China by their quite sustained illegal efforts to acquire technology from both the United States and Europe? I think it is helpful but by no means the most important or the determining factor in their advance.

This short piece with Condi Rice is not so much directed to U.S. universities; rather it is directed to the government and the national security community, to say to them, be cautious here — don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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