Monthly Archives: June 2015

The 5 Symptoms of Being a Scientist

What does it mean to be a scientist? Not everyone is cut out to spend their days working in a lab and entering data into a scientific notebook. If you display these five symptoms, you may have the condition known as “being a scientist.”

Symptom 1: Terminal Curiosity

When you look up at the night sky and see the stars shining down, do you obsessively start thinking about the atomic processes that allow celestial bodies to form? Or maybe you start trying to calculate exactly how many centuries the light you’re now seeing took to travel through the cosmos to reach your eyes, and if you can figure out whether or not the star you’re currently observing still even exists. If you’re not content with just accepting how things work, and you need to know why the world and the universe work the way they do, you have the first symptom of being a scientist.

Symptom 2: Obsessive Data Disorder

Have you ever seen a news story that sites a certain chart or data set, and you immediately start questioning the validity of the numbers or the parameters that the data is being filtered through? For some people, simply being told a percentage or shown a graph isn’t good enough. They need to see the numbers for themselves, to take a look at the raw data and come up with their own conclusions. That’s a good thing: A real scientist loves diving into a giant pool of data and experiencing it for themselves.

Symptom 3: Uncontrollable Enthusiasm for Learning

Some people don’t just like to learn new things; they have to keep learning. And not only do they love learning new facts, figures, and details that seem insignificant to most people, but that change the very way you look at things, they can’t help but share their excitement with their friends, family, and coworkers. Bombarding your friends with all the details of biological organisms function may get you blank stares at a party. But when you’re in the lab, the reaction is much more welcoming.

Symptom 4: Unnatural Displays of Patience

Of course, scientists can’t just love data and learning new things. They have to be willing to search for it. Spending hours researching, crunching numbers, hypothesizing, and coming up with new experiments that may eventually lead nowhere isn’t for everyone. But if you’re willing to spend as long as it takes bent over a microscope or organizing meticulously collected numbers into a spreadsheet in order to get one more number that you can add to months or years of collected research, then science may be in your blood.

Symptom 5: Excess Logic

For a scientist, something isn’t truly explained until it makes logical sense. It’s not enough to accept that things just work a certain way; a scientist has to know why, no matter how long it takes. If you find yourself picking apart the things your friends say, looking for inconsistencies and logical fallacies, or if you aren’t happy with an explanation from an authority figure until you’ve had a chance to hear the exact train of logic that lead them to come up with a particular policy or explanation, you have another one of the symptoms of being a scientist.

Does this sound like you? Then, congratulations! You’re probably on the road to becoming a great scientist. Next time you need to stock up on laboratory notebooks and other supplies, be sure to contact Scientific Notebook Company at 800-537-3028.

6 Engineering Design Competitions for College Students

Are you an engineering student looking for real opportunities to test your knowledge and put your theories into action? In this post, we discuss six different engineering design competitions that are open to students, ranging from miniature tractor construction, to racecar building, to constructing fighting robots.

SAE Formula One Competition

For any engineer in training who fancies him or herself a gearhead or who admires the sleek, aerodynamic construction of racing cars, this is the competition for you. Hosted by the Society of Automotive Engineers, the SAE Formula One competitions allows students to not only design their own formula one racer, but also to build it. Students in the competition get to put their knowledge to the test by drawing up the plans for their perfect racecar, assembling the vehicle, and having student drivers operate them in the competition’s eight different events. The cars are tested not only for their speed, but also their endurance, their fuel economy, and other important automotive criteria, which means that even if your car isn’t the fastest, it still has a chance to win overall based on the quality of its construction.

ASME Student Design Competition

The ASME Student Design Competition is designed to “[showcase] the extraordinary talents of mechanical engineering students while encouraging them to develop innovative ideas towards an improved quality of life for all.” The competition takes the form of multiple competitions, in which teams of up to four students test their inventions against others at regional competitions, with the winners moving on to the ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition. Last year’s event featured a drone-building contest, in which teams from all over the world created their own designs for unpiloted aircraft and submitted them for competition.

National Robotics League

If the box office numbers for the Transformers movies tell us anything, it’s that people enjoy watching robots battle it out with each other. The National Robotics League certainly likes the idea, anyway—the organization hosts an event in which students are encouraged to partner up with industrial companies and design their own robots, which are then pitted against other students’ creations. This competition not only lets students test their skills in a fun way, but also gives them the chance to make contacts with professionals and companies in the industry.

VEX Robotics

Similar to the National Robotics League’s robot fighting competition, VEX Robotics hosts a robot-building contest for engineering students where contestants’ creations are made to compete with each other. Instead of fighting, VEX’s competition has the students and their robots compete with each other at games; last year’s game separated the contestants into teams of two, and then had them race to stack colored cubes.

Steel Bridge Competition from AISC

While it’s less flashy than the previous two competition’s robot arena battles, the American Institute of Steel Construction’s bridge building competition also provides students with a chance to test their knowledge in a practical way. Every year, the competition asks students to build miniature replicas of steel bridges, with a particular set of parameters attached to the situation. For example, last year’s match asked students to design a bridge that could span the seventeen-foot Nogo River, and allow farm and commerce vehicles to pass over it.

International ¼ Scale Tractor Student Design Competition

For any engineering student who is fascinated with tractors and farming equipment, this one’s a great choice. Students taking part in the competition are given an engine and four tires, and are left to come up with the rest of their replica tractor themselves. Entries are then judged on factors including design, manufacturability, safety, and loudness over the course of a mock sales meeting and two performance tests.

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The Best Engineering Schools in America

Engineering is a rewarding profession, both personally and financially, and qualified graduates of engineering programs are in high demand all across the U.S. and the world. Because engineers-to-be have a wide variety of schools to choose from, we put together a list of some of the best universities for engineering students across the country, based on quality of education and expected return on investment for the cost of an education.

Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Georgia)

The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the best engineering schools, not just because of the value of its degrees and the quality of the education provided, but because entry is within reach of the majority of aspiring engineers. Georgia Tech has a current acceptance rate of 52%, well above the acceptance rate of most other engineering schools. Despite accepting the majority of applicants, Georgia Tech still boasts a stunning ROI for its students, placing 11th out of all U.S. engineering schools for return on investment, with a 30-year average net ROI of $1.39 million.

Stanford University (Stanford, California)

Stanford is one of the most prestigious schools in the U.S., making it one of the most difficult to get into. But for those students who have their applications accepted, the chance to go to Stanford is one that most should not pass up. Not only is Stanford famous worldwide for the quality of its technical programs, it also sits right in the heart of the Silicon Valley, and is the alma matter of many of the tech and engineering professionals who work there. A Stanford education isn’t cheap or easy to come by, but the rewards for getting a degree there are worth it.

California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, California)

Cal Tech is famous for the quality of its STEM departments, and its graduates are some of the most sought-after in the engineering world. Cal Tech alumni are sought out by large companies, startups, government agencies, and many other powerful and financially rewarding employers. Students shouldn’t just consider going to the California Institute of Technology based on reputation, either – the school’s engineering department and faculty are top notch, and the average 30-year net ROI for Cal Tech graduates reaches as high as 1.99 million.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

Like Stanford and Cal Tech, MIT is one of the most famous and prestigious universities in the United States. And, like those schools, the combination of name recognition and respect for the institution with the quality of the education available there make it one of the best choices of schools for engineering students. MIT places highly on nearly every relevant list, including earning potential for graduates and quality of education.

Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

Harvard is one of the oldest schools in the U.S., and has a reputation for academic excellence that matches its storied history. Of its many departments, its Materials Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering programs are some of the school’s best, making it a top choice for students looking to specialize in any of those fields. While difficult to get in to, and expensive to attend, Harvard is one of the best engineering schools in the country and is worth applying to for the chance of being able to become a student there.





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