Self-Healing Buildings & Sidewalks are a Realistic Future

How else can the relatively burgeoning field of Bio-Engineering grow? With the astonishing creation of CRISP-Cas9 what other possibilities loom ahead with tech that allows us to not only edit but use genomes in whole new arenas.

Imagine a synthetic material that could grow like trees, taking the carbon from the carbon dioxide and incorporating it into the material’s backbone. A material designed, by researchers at MIT & University of California at Riverside, to react with carbon dioxide and ambient light. Which has potential for commercial applications such as self-healing coatings and crack filling and future advances leading to materials utilized in construction materials and composites.

Currently the synthetic gel-like material performs a process akin to the way plants convert carbon dioxide into glucose. This material might be made into prefabricated panels to be assembled at a build site. With an added bonus of, the material hardening & solidifying only when exposed to air and sunlight, reducing energy consumption and saving on transportation costs.

This completely uncharted area of materials science brings about a new technology of carbon-fixing materials that don't yet exist. Not only does it avoid fossil fuels for its creation but consumes carbon dioxide from the air. Thus giving obvious benefits for the environment & businesses alike.

Until now research to utilize chloroplasts has been quite limited as the chloroplasts stop operating within a few hours. The light harnessing power researchers utilized came from chloroplasts found in spinach leaves. However these chloroplasts are not alive but catalyze the reaction of carbon dioxide. The material researches used is a polymer made from aminopropyl methacrylamiden and glucose, an enzyme called glucose oxidase, and the chloroplasts becomes stronger as it consumes carbon.

Their work shows that carbon dioxide need not only be a burden and a cost. It is also an opportunity as carbon can be found everywhere.

Dreams of Science Fiction with Neural Networks

The dream of science fiction, creation of a purely independent digital mind has been a pursuit of companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, & Microsoft for over half a decade. With their dependency growing ever-faster. Their capability boundless. Tech giants are looking for the next batch of deep neural programmers to lead the edge. Creating applications such as AlphaGo & AlphaGo Zero we have a program that shows us what the future holds.

An allgorithim that has the ability to learn, this is a long standing goal in artificial intelligence that a program can learn with superhuman proficiency in challenging disciplines. In 2015, AlphaGo became the first A.I. to defeat a world champion at a game of GO, without any handicaps. The tree search in AlphaGo calculated positions and picked moves using deep neural networks. Which were learned through watching human experts own playing ability, and strengthened through learning from playing itself.

Two years later in 2017 AlphaGo Zero was released with an allgorithim solely based on self-learning abilities. Without human data, instruction, or realm understanding beyond the game rules. AlphaGo Zero became its own teacher with a neural network trained to predict AlphaGo's moves as well as the winner of AlphaGo's games. This neural network improves the capabillites of the tree search, with greater results from move selection and stronger self-play in the following iteration. Starting tablua rasa, AlphaGo Zero achieved superhuman results, winning 100-0 against AlphaGo.

Our current students and future programmers will be expected to solve problems we nor they can conceive of yet. The coding languages of the future will be vast and growing from what they are today. Let us teach them the ability to solve their problems with their own creativity and problem solving. Creating what was once the dream of science fiction.

The Power of Photogrammetry

The gap between reality and pre-renderd graphics is closing fast. As a technical 3D artist Rens has created astounding realistic renders of nature scenes. Motivated by achieving photo-realistic results and ignoring hardware limitations, Rens has been iterating the quality of his environments to match the results of AAA movies that have continued to fool us with realistic images.

Over the past year Rens developed trees, foliage, and stone as a basis to develop a jumping off point for realistic renderings of 3D environments. He uses the Unreal Engine to run environments and build content. Utilizing dynamic lighting and global illuminate with NVidias' VXGI solution he uses 10 different photographs to recreate a single leaf to build life-like plants. Incorporating photography with a custom built light-rig, Photoshop, and Allegorithmic Substance Designer to process photos. He combines information of color, subsurface, normal and height textures into his assets. With each leaf being processed into a texture, cut into a 3D model, and shaped by hand. To recreate the realism of leaves laying on the ground he uses PhysX simulation to have them collide with each other and find natural placement. Creating depth of space as each leaf falls on top of the previous. To diffuse texture he reuses his material set up for its specular and roughness value. Processing the material in itself rather than through the process of filtering and processing in Photoshop or Substance. Thus saving memory and having textures that can be re-purposed and allow for real time adjustments.

In combining his love of photography, nature, and 3D modeling Rens has created some truly astonishing worlds that would be unbelievable to the human eye. With an eye for shapes and looking at the world around him in a different way he is able to understand the basic patterns, placement, colors, and surfaces necessary to create his worlds.

Truly want to not believe your eyes? Give this a watch.

Soft Skills Employers Will Be Looking For Tomorrow

As soon as the year 2020 it is clear that creative thinking will be one of the most in-demand & valued skills in the work place, according to the World Economic Forum. In fact, it is going to be the third most important skill overall.

According to a new report, The Future of Jobs, which gathered data from surveys of CHROs and other strategy executives totaling 371 international employers, on behalf of more than 13 million employees.

Here are the Top 10 Skills in 2020 that these companies want from their employees and recruits:

  1. Complex Problem Solving

  2. Critical Thinking

  1. Creativity

  2. People Management

  3. Coordinating with others

  4. Emotional Intelligence

  5. Judgement and Decision Making

  6. Service Orientation

  7. Negotiation

  8. Cognitive Flexibility

This study correlates to other surveys detailing similar results for how important creativity will be to companies. In 2010, IBM surveyed 1,500 CEOs around the globe who voted creativity to be their most desirable workplace capability.

Let us compare this list to the Top 10 Skills in 2015 the companies wanted:

  1. Complex Problem Solving

  2. Coordinating with others

  3. People Management

  4. Critical Thinking

  5. Negotiation

  6. Quality Control

  7. Service Orientation

  8. Judgement and Decision Making

  9. Active Listening

  10. Creativity

Creativity is a skill that will be in higher demand for the foreseeable future by the worlds largest corporations.

Other high demand skills like Critical Thinking and Problem Solving also benefit from creativity and innovation, as these skills help companies maneuver ever-changing future obstacles.

Luckily, as is every skill on this list, creativity can be learned and enhanced over time.

Drones in the Classroom

In today's society technology is everywhere. From home life to being used in schools. There has been a slow progression of having students use iPads in class. A New Jersey teacher, Kimberly Crowley noticed a drop in attendance and behavioral problems in her math class. She had an innovative idea of integrating drone technology with her curriculum. She integrated concepts of engineering and problem solving that correlated with mathematics. Her students loved it. They saw the challenge and wanted to solve it. When it came to something new and different they became engaged. She started to fundraise and talk to district leaders to achieve the idea. She wanted to have them in not just her classroom but all classrooms.

 

Sometimes interacting with children can be hard. Drones have been bringing out the curiosity out in us all. Learning how to write a code or just manually controlling the machine. It brings out the child. Here at Blaze we want to give students the opportunity to see the progress from engineering the drone and building it to match the specs of expectation the child has. From there they can start piecing and putting together the image they had in their head. We then teach them how to control manually or to code different functions to achieve ideas. Classrooms are moving away from lecture and learn to more of using kinetic learning and trying to reach each student using the way they learn. For a world that is continually growing, the classroom has to adapt. Children need the focus and drive to continue to develop. Preparing students and teaching them coding or engineering to help them later in a career.

The Future of Virtual Reality

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You’re soaring in the sky as a golden eagle. Strapped into mechanical wings, you experience the true bird-eye-view of New York City.

For all intents and purposes, virtual reality is booming in its current arena of possibilities. It has so far been seen as trips after trips into another world where many things are possible with no consequences. VR currently has its fingers in so many pies that it is impossible to determine its future. The University of British Columbia in Vancouver is experimenting with virtual lecture halls. In the Allianz stadium in Turin, Italy, Juventus fans can use VR headsets to play a mini soccer game with the Juve team.

There are, however, more productive uses of VR in unexpected fields. In China, drug rehabilitation clinics are using VR software to show addicts the graphic physical and mental harm drugs can cause. Similarly, VR software can be reclaimed to ease patient pain and anxiety during surgical procedures, and mental health facilities employ VR to assist mental health patients with recovery.

Are there no limits to what we can achieve with future VR technology? Though VR has the ability to connect people across continents and express powerful, emotional experiences in more-immersive ways than ever before, those bulky headsets simply aren't going to immerse entire communities of people in the same way laptops or phones have.

Except for Samsung — which uses mobile phones — VR experiences also require a motley of high-end equipment. VR lacks elegance, and this factor likely keeps out major technology manufacturers such as Apple from pursuing it yet. Accessibility of VR is important to negotiate if fields other than gaming and entertainment are to employ it in the future.

One thing’s for certain: VR will change how we see the world and how we learn. In taking people to places they’ve never been before, VR reconciles visual, tactile and auditory learners alike. If we’re ambitious, we can even begin catering to the rest of the senses — temperature, smells, tastes — and truly revamp the virtual experience.

Summer Expeditions: BLAZE STEM Summer Camp Highlights, Pt. 1

 3D modeling & printing

3D modeling & printing

What to do with inquisitive kids with summer heat on the rise? The BLAZE STEM summer camp experience is truly one of a kind, as it helps kids with extremely specific interests discover more about their abilities.

 Intro to Photography

Intro to Photography

 

 

 

BLAZE summer camps are not there to teach campers so much as to inspire. We want students to understand how to think rather than what to think, so they can become future problem-solvers with no limits as to the intellectual challenges they may overcome.

 

 

 Human Biology 2.0

Human Biology 2.0

 

For the past three weeks, our BLAZE STEM campers have been hard at work and produced such imaginative final projects! Campers explored 3D modeling and printing, biology, robotics programming, coding, photography and writing with passion and innovation. They also enjoyed getting to know fellow STEM campers after the “Sorting Hat” has sorted them into their respective Hogwarts Houses.

 

 Beginners robotics programming

Beginners robotics programming

Our 3D modeling classes focused on using the design thinking process to prototype and test their own 3D creations. In robotics, campers utilized Wonder Workshop Dash-n-dot robotics to solve puzzles and complete challenges. In photography classes, students learned basic photography principles and created their own photo stories. Some campers even created their own virtual reality in which they told stories using their own characters.

 

Scroll on to see some of the stunning final projects our campers presented!

 3D modeling & printing

3D modeling & printing

 3D modeling & printing

3D modeling & printing

 3D modeling & printing

3D modeling & printing

 Human Biology 2.0

Human Biology 2.0

 Proud of our first rounds of campers!

Proud of our first rounds of campers!

Harry Potter and The Rise of Automated Creativity

Harry Potter and The Rise of Automated Creativity

If we read the latest bot-ploy — predicative keyboards penning an entirely new, nonsensical chapter of Harry Potter than nonetheless imitates J.K. Rowling’s syntax down to a T — we can’t help but wonder when AI will automate even fine art majors out of a job.

The Soft Skills Employers Yearn for in College Grads

According to PayScale, Inc. and Future Workplace, almost half of managers surveyed perceived that their employees recently graduated from college were well-prepared for the workforce. These are the top four skills students should focus on improving.

1. In business writing, brevity is key when communicating via email with co-workers, managers, clients, and customers. This differentiation between writing papers in college and business writing lies with a misunderstanding of message. You are always writing for your audience. Messages should focus around the needs of the readers, wants and priorities. The best way to resolve this is to speak through the five w's: who, what, were, when, and why.

2. Fear of public speaking is estimated to affect 75% of the population of America. This is the second ranked sill employers are disappointed in. Public speaking goes beyond presenting to a large audience. It is more commonly seen during meetings. If public speaking gives you nerves a jolt, making key points to speak about can be a useful technique, since we are more likely to forget a speech wrote word for word. Create reference points to bullet key information in your talk. Giving special attention to the start and the end of your talk. Those are the points your audience is most likely to remember.

3. Being information literate is the third skill managers found lacking. You will need to have the ability to break down and understand data using software like Excel, Tableau, or Python. Data has an influence on every role in an organization, from marketing to customer service. You may need to take initiative to find the bounty of free online resources and create a personal project to develop these skills.

4. Roughly 60 percent of employers said that critical thinking and problem solving skills were the number one soft skills needing improvement among recent college grads. The way one handles a crisis or responds to a conflict could be a metric of these skills. Seeing as most recently graduated students aren't as experienced at handling business scenarios, they should look for guidance. Not all problems have a clear intuitive path to a solution. Finding a mentor and inquiring for solutions to the situations handled in the past may guide to creating your own step by step resolutions.

Maintaining the mindset of a life-long learner and continuing to update skills and learn new skills throughout your career.

3D Printing, The Limitless Technology.

The applications with 3D printing are limitless. From doctors & dentists to students & designers, being used in small scale manufacturing to small business.

From its inception in 1984, a time when only sizable companies could afford a 3D printer, growth in additive manufacturing has exploded. The uses for 3D printing today are continually creating new opportunities in almost every industry.

The adaptability of 3D printing is evident in the variety of ways they’re used today. In the medical field alone has practitioners have a number of uses. Surgeons can plan operations by reviewing 3D printed replicas of a physical problem being operated. This method of preparation allows surgeons to gather a better idea of what the surgery entails. Printed models have also been a cost effective way for medical schools to have students study human anatomy. Increasingly popular movement is prosthetic limbs being developed by way of 3D printing – bringing functional prosthesis to entire communities that would otherwise not be able to afford or access the care they need.

Regardless of the specific application, 3D printers offer what no other type of manufacturing process has been capable. Rapid turnaround times, placing physical results in a users hands and bringing to life a digital concept.  This will allow 3D printing to  be used for an ever growing number of tasks, similar to the last two decades of growth in personal computers. Imagine a third world village printing vital medical equipment on demand. Aid workers never being without the specific supplies they need, a result of carrying portable 3D printers with them into combat zones and disaster areas. Imagine hospitals being able to print organs on demand instead of waiting for a donor. 3D printers have virtually limitless potential as the technology driving them improves.

Designer Challenge - 3D printed puzzles

Design Brief

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It's time to get creative! What puzzle ideas do you have? Have you ever wanted to bring to life your own puzzle idea? If so now is your time to shine.

I'm excited to announce the first Blaze design challenge! For this challenge the theme is puzzles! Puzzles have been around for centuries as a simple way to entertain ourselves, but how can we take them to the next level with 3D printing?

Try your hand at creating your own sliding puzzle, maze, or puzzle cube during our Maker track every Monday and Wednesday. The 3D puzzle can be anything you like. Something new or a remix of a current design. Designs must be made in TinkerCAD and have the ability to print on an FDM 3D printer.

We will be judging student submissions on June 18th. The more creative the better!


Designer Resources

In need of some inspiration? Check out these puzzles to kick start your creativity!


Tips

1. Check out our Maker classes every Monday & Wednesday for assistance from an instructor.
2. Have a look at the end result to know what you are building.
3. Reinforce breakage areas.
4. Make sure to be careful and precise when designing.
5. Keep working, even outside of class times.