Category Archives: Science & Technology

Manufacturing the future

Additive manufacturing, sometimes known as 3D printing, is exactly what it sounds like. Working from a computer-generated 3D model, a “printer” puts down layer after layer of plastic or metal or ceramic, adding layers until the design is realized in a finished part.

“You’re reimagining components from the ground up,” says Rich Martukanitz, director of Penn State’s Center for Innovative Materials Processing through Direct Digital Deposition, known as CIMP-3D. “You can manufacture components having features and characteristics that are near impossible to do with conventional processes. And you drastically cut manufacturing time, materials — and cost.”

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Focus on research: Here’s why kids fall behind in science

By Paul Morgan

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on The Conversation.

Globally, the U.S. is at risk of declining economic competitiveness due to its continuing lower levels of educational attainment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The U.S. currently ranks 44th according to the quality of its mathematics and science education.

A “leaky STEM pipeline” – in which factors such as lower expectations, discrimination, and a lack of interest make it less likely that racial or ethnic minorities, women or those from low-income families will pursue STEM careers – makes many adults less likely to be employed in these types of positions.

Yet STEM positions are often high-paying and provide greater economic well-being and employment stability, especially as the U.S. transitions to a knowledge-based economyContinue reading Focus on research: Here’s why kids fall behind in science

The lure of grandkids draws seniors to social media

If there was ever an example of the viral nature of social media, it’s the creation of Facebook. The social media site went from a site for Harvard students to a global phenomenon.

The slickness and simplicity of the site, along with the ability to share pictures and updates with their friends from around campus — and around the world — have all been mentioned as reasons for using the social media site.

Now, according to work done by Penn State researchers, those same interface features and social media bonding experiences are prompting older adults to join the site.

Oh. And there’s one more reason: the lure of grandchildren…

Our researchers, Eun Hwa Jung, a doctoral candidate in mass communications and S. Shyam Sundar, Distinguished Professor of Communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory, explain that lure and more.  Continue reading The lure of grandkids draws seniors to social media

Probing question: Can robots be too human?

S. Shyam Sundar is Distinguished Professor and founding director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory in Penn State’s College of Communications. His research investigates the social and psychological impacts of human interaction with the websites and social media.

More recently, Sundar has turned his attention to the emerging complexities of the human-robotic relationship. He and his graduate students are exploring questions about what people really want from robots, and what they fear the most about them. When it comes to cozying up to robots in our homes and lives, what makes us comfortable? And what gives us the creeps? Tune in and find out. Please email series producer Melissa Beattie-Moss at with ideas, comments and questions.

Listening to data

Have you ever thought about taking data points and creating music with them? This is exactly what Mark Ballora does.

Ballora, a Penn State associate professor of music technology, translates data into music — also known as data sonification. He does this in part to emphasize that data may be interpreted aurally as well as visually.

As described in an earlier post this week, Ballora sonified Penn State Polar Center director Eric Post’s research on phenology and caribou and muskox populations. Phenology is the study of the timing of seasonal events — such as the onset of spring flowering or the arrival of migratory birds.
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