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  • richardmitnick 11:54 am on November 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: “MIT has this perfect collaborative platform where you can share not only with your cohort in your studio but also with individuals in different departments [cultivating ] thoughts and ideas.”, “The role of the architect [can be] to envision the city” not only as it is but “what it might become.”, Covid-19 is profoundly impacting the lives of people around the world and may influence design solutions of the future—just as cholera once reshaped urban water and waste management., Global warming is another force that presents compelling questions for architects., MIT Spectrum, MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P), Ous Abou Ras   

    From MIT Spectrum: “Designing the Future” Ous Abou Ras 


    From MIT Spectrum

    1
    Ous Abou Ras. Credit: Olivier Faber

    At MIT, a young architect finds the perfect platform for collaborative learning.

    As a young child, Ous Abou Ras loved going to work with his father, an architect, and poring over building plans. Originally from Syria, Abou Ras grew up in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and has always been drawn to building and design. “I used to love playing with LEGOs,” he recalls, “and initially I wanted to be an engineer.” Ultimately it was architecture, however, that integrated his interests in math and engineering with his appreciation for creative influences such as art and cultural history.

    Abou Ras earned undergraduate degrees in architectural design and physics from the University of Toronto and today continues to add new influences to his work as a second-year graduate student in MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P). He is focusing on the emergent field of computational architecture.

    “The best part about MIT is that every single person in my studio has a different background, a different focus of study, and something to share with the others,” says Abou Ras, who is this year’s recipient of the Carney Goldberg Fellowship, created by the family of MIT-trained architect Carney Goldberg ’29. The support of this fellowship, says Abou Ras, has made his MIT education possible.

    Abou Ras and his SA+P classmates work in studio cohorts of approximately 30 students each, a structure that he says encourages community and a rich exchange of ideas. In the fall of 2019, his cohort’s first assignment was to create a performance space within the Emerald Necklace, a chain of connected parks designed by storied landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in Boston and Brookline, Massachusetts. Abou Ras designed a computational method to divide the imagined space into a grid and then algorithmically populated the space with elements such as trees and benches. The result was an innovative co-creation by architect and machine.

    Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Abou Ras is spending the fall 2020 semester taking courses remotely from his family’s current home in Toronto, Canada. But he says classes such as 4.181 Architectural Design Workshop: Kintsugi, Upcycling, and Machine Learning, taught by SA+P faculty members Caitlin Mueller ’07, SM ’14, PhD ’14 and Daniel Marshall MA ’19, continue to expand his skills and spark his imagination. In this workshop, students combine computational modeling and design with Kintsugi, a Japanese art form in which broken fragments of pottery are reassembled into new shapes. The class perfectly suits Abou Ras’s interest in exploring the boundaries of traditional form and drawing inspiration from many disciplines. He notes that his personal influences range from writings in his own field, such as Translations from Drawing to Building and Other Essays by the architectural historian Robin Evans, to the magical realism of Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, whose novel One Hundred Years of Solitude reminds Abou Ras that architecture is about more than structures; it has the power to profoundly shape people and their stories.

    “Our cities are where we live, where we develop, where we evolve,” Abou Ras says. “The role of the architect [can be] to envision the city,” not only as it is but “what it might become.” This imaginative work is particularly important now, he says, as Covid-19 is profoundly impacting the lives of people around the world and may influence design solutions of the future—just as cholera once reshaped urban water and waste management.

    Global warming is another force that presents compelling questions for architects, Abou Ras notes: How will humans survive rising sea levels? How can buildings become more adaptable to changing weather? And how can cities be made greener and more sustainable? Answering such questions will take the work of many minds, which is one reason Abou Ras is glad to be at MIT.

    “MIT has this perfect collaborative platform where you can share, not only with your cohort in your studio, but also with individuals in different departments, [cultivating ] thoughts and ideas,” he says. Though architecture is rooted in technical rigor and precision, says Abou Ras, it is also “a very subjective field, and I think that the only way to learn in such a subjective field is to share as much as you can with others.”

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    MIT Spectrum connects friends and supporters of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to MIT’s vision, impact, and exceptional community.

    MIT Seal

    USPS “Forever” postage stamps celebrating Innovation at MIT.

    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind. Paths of discovery cross every day at MIT, propelling groundbreaking research and furthering personal development. Although it’s not always clear where a path will lead, MIT aims high, working to ensure that humanity’s collective trajectory is pointed toward a brighter future.

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  • richardmitnick 10:20 am on June 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Quantum Leaps on the Horizon", MIT Spectrum, Paola Cappellaro PhD ’06 advances next-generation computing,   

    From MIT Spectrum: “Quantum Leaps on the Horizon” 


    From MIT Spectrum

    Spring 2020
    Mark Wolverton

    1
    Paola Cappellaro experiments with a diamond chip containing qubits, shown at the center of this apparatus, seeking ways to address errors in quantum computing. Photo: Courtesy of Quantum Engineering Group

    Paola Cappellaro PhD ’06 advances next-generation computing

    “Quantum” is one of those buzzwords that shows up in everything from science fiction to business branding. But quantum computing—or, more specifically, quantum information science and engineering—is a real, cutting-edge discipline focused on developing systems that will leave today’s fastest supercomputers in the dust.

    In fact, it’s a whole ecosystem of technology based on quantum mechanics, a field of physics centered on how subatomic particles move and interact, according to Paola Cappellaro PhD ’06, an associate professor in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE). Cappellaro is at the forefront of MIT’s quantum computing research as leader of the Quantum Engineering Group in the Research Laboratory of Electronics.

    “In my group, we work not only on quantum computing but also on associated technologies,” Cappellaro says. “The common thread is quantum information science, how to manipulate, encode, and exploit information using quantum devices.”

    The technology is still in its infancy, but approaching computing from the vanguard of physics promises a sea change in how computers tackle huge mathematical challenges, such as breaking cryptographic codes, and simulate intricate systems, such as complex chemical reactions.

    More memory and power

    While conventional computers operate by processing bits of data consisting of zeros and ones, generally encoded in electronic form as on/off, quantum computing is based on principles that permit subatomic particles to be in different states simultaneously, enabling quantum bits, or “qubits,” to hold more information.

    In theory, a quantum computer should outmatch even the most advanced supercomputer—but so far, no one has quite figured out the best way to build one. That’s because there are many possible ways to create the qubits of data, all involving different physical systems and types of hardware. Also, qubits are delicate and subject to what physicists call “decoherence” or the collapse of their fragile quantum state at the slightest vibration or change in temperature.

    Another major challenge centers on addressing errors, which today’s computers handle through redundancy. “Instead of just encoding information in one bit, you can encode them in a certain number of bits and then you take a majority vote,” she says. This doesn’t work in the fuzzier realm of qubits, for a variety of reasons including that the disturbance caused by measurement (“wave-function collapse”) forbids checking the majority vote conditions.

    Cappellaro’s Quantum Engineering Group is using electron and nuclear spins to address this challenge. Their approach centers on a type of defect found within the crystal lattice of diamond, called a nitrogen-vacancy or N-V center, that could be harnessed to create qubits. “We came up with a way of characterizing the noise in our system and then came up with an efficient way of protecting it from errors,” she says. “What we hope is that … we can actually have a practical error correction system for today’s intermediate-scale quantum devices.”

    Collaborations at MIT

    Quantum computers are expected to be able to tackle the biggest of big data challenges, but the specific applications may depend on which systems prove most practical. “We’re still in the stage where we’re trying to pick the best technology,” Cappellaro says.

    Making such choices means exploring many different options, reflected in the broad range of researchers involved in quantum computing across the MIT School of Science and the MIT School of Engineering, as well as many groups at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. The MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing is expected to better unite the Institute’s quantum computing efforts.

    “We have a long tradition in quantum computation,” Cappellaro observes. “But the Schwarzman College could position MIT even better to play a larger role both in the United States and on the world stage. It’s definitely an opportunity to be seized.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    MIT Spectrum connects friends and supporters of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to MIT’s vision, impact, and exceptional community.

    MIT Seal

    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind. Paths of discovery cross every day at MIT, propelling groundbreaking research and furthering personal development. Although it’s not always clear where a path will lead, MIT aims high, working to ensure that humanity’s collective trajectory is pointed toward a brighter future.

    MIT Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 8:00 am on September 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Caitlin Mueller, Digital design tools date back to the very origins of the computer., Engineers generally don’t offer large-scale design suggestions in order to for example save a substantial amount of steel., Engineers should be an integral part of the process from the beginning., Engineers use computers for calculations. Architects use them for drafting., MIT Spectrum, Mueller’s goal is to employ machine learning to support the design process from both an architectural and engineering perspective., The tools she creates make it easier for architects and engineers to work together to find design solutions and assess how changes can influence metrics ranging from the energy needed to heat a buildi, Using digital tools to link architecture and engineering.,   

    From MIT Spectrum: Women in STEM- “Building Bridges” Caitlin Mueller 

    MIT News

    From MIT

    via

    1

    MIT Spectrum

    2
    Caitlin Mueller uses robotic 3-D printing to test architectural designs for non-standard elements, such as these culled tree limbs used to build a trellis. Photo: Alan Silfen

    Caitlin Mueller uses digital tools to link architecture, engineering.

    Digital design tools date back to the very origins of the computer. While earning his PhD at MIT in the early 1960s, Ivan Sutherland PhD ’63 developed Sketchpad, a computer program that allowed users to create images on a screen using a light pen instead of code.

    “He really explored this idea of how the computer would change the way we can think and design and create,” explains Caitlin Mueller, associate professor in the Building Technology Program at MIT, where she leads the Digital Structures research group. “Unfortunately, after that piece of work, it became more commonplace for both architects and engineers to think of the computer as replicating analog methods.” In other words, engineers use computers for calculations, and architects use them for drafting.

    Mueller’s goal is to employ machine learning to support the design process from both an architectural and engineering perspective. By creating software that generates design alternatives and simulates their performance, she hopes to qualitatively change how buildings are conceived and built. A big part of that is encouraging architects and engineers to work together—every step of the way.

    In the traditional building process, a client hires an architect and provides a set of specifications—X square feet, X number of rooms, etc. After finalizing the design, the architect hires an engineer, who typically looks at the design and says the building can be constructed using X amount of steel, for example. There’s often little back and forth. Engineers generally don’t offer large-scale design suggestions in order to, for example, save a substantial amount of steel. As a result, buildings that look great can often prove expensive to build and operate.

    That is a wasted opportunity, Mueller says, arguing that engineers should be an integral part of the process from the beginning. The tools she creates make it easier for architects and engineers to work together to find design solutions and assess how changes can influence metrics ranging from the energy needed to heat a building to the cost of labor in construction.

    Clients can also evaluate in real time how different designs affect costs, impact the environment, and influence factors such as occupant comfort—giving them better information on which to base decisions. Architects and engineers can further employ Mueller’s tools to ensure that, as designs are changed, a building continues to meet both a client’s requirements, such as number of rooms, and safety regulations, such as required number of egresses.

    The tools even work well on less traditional structures. Recently, Mueller’s research team used them to design a community garden trellis system in Somerville, Massachusetts, using wood from culled urban trees. “We generated interesting forms by discerning the intrinsic geometry of the trees’ branches to arrange them in structures that used the material efficiently and effectively,” Mueller says. “We would never have been able to understand how to use this complex geometry or the structural behavior of these forms without the tools we’re developing.”

    Bringing architecture and engineering together, and considering engineering problems during the design process, will ultimately lead to buildings that are more cost-effective, more environmentally friendly, and cheaper to build and operate, Mueller says.

    “People have long been lamenting the fact that architects and engineers don’t work together,” Mueller says. “Today, both because of the sustainability imperative that’s so serious and the abilities these new tools open up for us, I think in the next 5 or 10 years we’re going to see a big shift in the types of tools companies use.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    MIT Seal

    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

    MIT Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 8:14 pm on February 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Looking Forward to Fusion", , , , MIT Spectrum, Patrick White,   

    From MIT Spectrum: “Looking Forward to Fusion” 

    MIT Widget

    From MIT Spectrum

    Winter 2019

    1
    Patrick White (photographed in the Plasma Science and Fusion Center) is focused on the policy questions that will arise from the new SPARC technology. Photo: Bryce Vickmark

    Technical policy scholar Patrick White joins the SPARC project to ask: what comes after success?

    Controlled fusion power has been a tantalizing prospect for decades, promising a source of endless carbon-free energy for the world. Unfortunately, persistent technical challenges have kept that achievement on an ever-receding horizon. But recent developments in materials science and superconductivity have changed the landscape. The proposed SPARC experiment of MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC), in collaboration with the private, MIT alumni-led company Commonwealth Fusion Systems, is poised to use those breakthroughs to build the first fusion device that generates more energy than it consumes, bringing commercial fusion energy within practical reach in the near future.

    MIT SPARC fusion reactor tokamak

    Patrick White, a PhD candidate in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE), is looking ahead to that long-awaited day. His PhD project, funded by the Samuel W. Ing (1953) Memorial Fellowship in the NSE department and PSFC, anticipates the many questions that will follow a successful SPARC project and the development of fusion power.

    “How do you commercialize this technology that no one’s ever built before?” he asks. “It’s an opportunity to start from scratch.” White is focusing on the regulatory structures and safety analysis tools that will be necessary to bring fusion power plants out of the laboratory and onto the national power grid.

    He first became fascinated with nuclear science and technology while studying mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. “I think it was the fact that you can take a gram of uranium and release the same energy as several tons worth of coal, or that a single nuclear reactor can power a million homes for 60 years,” he remembers. “That absolutely blew me away.” He saw commercial reactor technology up close during an undergraduate summer internship with Westinghouse, and followed that with two summers in Washington, DC, working with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

    When White came to MIT for graduate work, he joined the MIT Energy Initiative’s major interdisciplinary study, The Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World, authoring the regulation and licensing section of the final report (which was subsequently released this past September). He began casting about for a PhD topic around the time the SPARC project was announced.

    The goal of SPARC is to demonstrate net energy from a fusion device in seven years—a key technical milestone that could lead to the construction of a commercially viable power plant scaled up to roughly twice SPARC’s diameter. Because the fusion process produces net energy at extreme temperatures no solid material can withstand, fusion researchers use magnetic fields to keep the hot plasma from coming into contact with the device’s chamber. Currently, the team building SPARC is refining the superconducting magnet technology that will be central to its operation. Already familiar with the regulatory and safety framework that’s been developed over decades of commercial fission reactor operation, White immediately began considering the challenges of regulating an entirely new potential technology that hasn’t yet been invented. One concern in the fusion community, he notes, is that “before we even have a final plant design, the regulatory system could make the ultimate device too expensive or too cumbersome to actually operate. So we’ll be looking at existing nuclear and non-nuclear industries, how they think about safety and regulation, and trying to come up with a pathway that makes the most sense for this new technology.”

    His PhD project proposal on the regulation of commercial fusion plants was selected by the PSFC for funding, and he got down to work in fall 2018 under three advisors: Zach Hartwig PhD ’14, the John C. Hardwick Assistant Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering; assistant professor Koroush Shirvan SM ’10, PhD ’13; and Dennis Whyte, director of PSFC and the Hitachi America Professor of Engineering.

    White’s career plans beyond the fellowship remain flexible: he notes that whether he ends up working with the licensing of advanced fission reactors or in the new world of commercial fusion power will depend on the technology itself, and how SPARC and other experimental projects evolve. Another possibility is bridging the communications gap between the nuclear industry and a public that’s often apprehensive about nuclear technology: “At the end of the day, if people refuse to have it built in their backyard, you’ve got a great device that can’t actually do any good.”

    For now, White’s fellowship is not only laying the groundwork for his own future, but also perhaps the future of what would be one of the greatest technological advances of humankind. He points out that the stakes are higher than simply developing a new energy technology. “If we’re really concerned about climate change and decarbonizing, we need to have every single tool on the table,” he says. “The more tools, the better.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    MIT Seal

    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

    MIT Campus

     
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