The Institute’s 10 Most Popular Articles of 2016

They include coverage of the world’s largest indoor farm and the toughest engineering jobs to fill

16 December 2016

The Institute featured the accomplishments of iconic technologists and scientists this year, including Claude Shannon and Marie Curie—topping our list of most-read stories. Readers also were interested in the “softwarization” of telecommunications systems, and how augmented reality games could have a positive impact on society.

  • 1. Did Claude Shannon Invent a Groundbreaking Personal Computer?

    Popularly known as the father of information theory, Shannon also contributed to the development of personal computers. In the fall of 1961, advertisements appeared in Popular Mechanics and similar magazines for the Scientific Development Corp. MINIVAC 601. The “fascinating, compact computer that thinks [and] remembers” was created “as a private project” by Shannon and developed by SDC staff, the ads proclaimed. MINIVAC 601 could play dozens of games, one ad stated, including tic-tac-toe. Our article explored Shannon’s involvement.

  • 2. How Marie Curie Helped Save a Million Soldiers During World War I

    By 1914 Marie Curie had already made several pioneering contributions to the field of radioactivity, including discovering radium and polonium. When World War I broke out in Europe that year, Curie saw a way to apply her expertise to help save the lives of wounded soldiers. She and her daughter amassed a fleet of vehicles equipped with X-ray machines and set up 200 radiological units in more permanent posts during the first two years of the war.

  • 3. Indoor Farms Could Revolutionize Agriculture

    AeroFarms of Newark, N.J., opened its ninth indoor facility in May in a 6,400-square-meter warehouse. The facility is now the largest indoor farm in the world, based on how much produce it can grow. AeroFarms is capable of harvesting nearly 1 million kilograms per year of leafy greens and herbs. Its crops bask under an array of LED lamps instead of sunlight, and sensors monitor temperature, humidity, oxygen levels, and more to ensure the plants are growing in optimal conditions.

  • 4. Which Engineers Make The Most Money?

    Results from this year’s IEEE-USA salary and benefits survey show that incomes from all sources for U.S. IEEE members went from a median of US $129,000 in 2013 to $133,000 in 2014. Not only did salaries increase by 3.1 percent, but the pay gap closed for female engineers and non-Caucasians.

  • 5. The “Softwarization” of Telecommunications Systems

    A radical change is happening in the way telecommunications systems are designed and operated. Software-defined networks, network function virtualization, and cloud computing are part of the “softwarization” trend, which is expected to impact all stages of network development. The “Towards 5G Software-Defined Ecosystems” white paper from the IEEE SDN initiative gave an overview of the main drivers steering the softwarization of the telecommunications industry, including 5G technology and open-source software.

  • 6. The Toughest Engineering Jobs to Fill in 2016

    Hiring managers looked far and wide this year to find the right candidates to fill open positions in several engineering sectors, according to a report issued by the job website CareerCast. One reason is that many of those jobs’ responsibilities change by the time employees are hired. Read about which jobs have been the most difficult to fill.

  • 7. Five Ways Engineers Can Improve Their Writing

    Does the thought of writing a report, a presentation, or even an email fill you with dread? Writing is a challenge for many technical professionals, but following a few simple steps and taking the time to practice can make it easier. This article shares several ways for engineers to improve their writing and grow more confident in their abilities.

  • 8. Could Augmented Reality Games Have a Positive Impact?

    This year’s popular Pokémon Go game has made augmented reality more accessible, and almost commonplace, to millions of people—many of whom had never interacted with an AR game or device before. AR expert John Rousseau predicts that virtual and augmented reality games such as Pokémon Go will become ubiquitous. Rousseau proposed three “laws of mixed reality” to ensure that AR and VR technology positively impacts society.

  • 9. Connected Cattle: Wearables are Changing the Dairy Industry

    Dairy farming is a vital part of the economy in many countries. A key to profitability is getting the highest percentage of cows pregnant during a breeding season. One way to find out if a cow is ready for insemination is to count its steps. This article features two companies that have outfitted cows with high-tech pedometers.

  • 10. Li-Fi: 100 Times Faster Than Wi-Fi

    The use of light as a means to transmit Internet data has been coined Li-Fi. The high-speed communication technology is similar to Wi-Fi but allows more data to be sent and received in less time. Learn how the use of LEDs, which have electronic properties, could bring Internet access to more areas and revolutionize the telecommunications industry.

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