Audio: Interview with the whizkid who led MIT team to first place in the Hyperloop pod competition

February 3, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Fascinating interview and congrats to winning team.  Very exciting to see the young engineers take to building radically new transportation systems/concepts like Hyperloop that will transform the future of mobility/transportation! Graduate student Chris Merian, chief engineer for MIT’s Hyperloop team, speaks with Radio Boston’s Meghna Chakrabarti about the team’s success in the recent Hyperloop contest

“…really cool engineering challenge that we are really passionate about, and seeing our hundreds of hours of work rewarded like that was really, really nice”


Educational Opportunity: PhD Candidate for “Perception Based Modeling” – Austrian Institute of Technology, Austria

March 10, 2014 at 5:05 pm

AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, the Austrian research institute with European format which focuses on the key infrastructure issues of the future, is looking to strengthen its team in the Department Mobility with the immediate appointment of a PhD Thesis “Perception Based Modeling”

 Job profile:

Over the past years, the “Dynamic Transportation Systems” group within the AIT´s Mobility Department has carried out extensive research in the field of modeling and simulation of human and crowd behavior. The increasing availability of large data sets originating from a broad variety of novel sensor technologies enables to investigate new ways for closing the gap between individual decisions based on context-related perception and the integration of this individual knowledge into mobility simulations. The ultimate goal is to integrate perceptual models with the simulation of movement behavior in train stations, airports and dense urban areas (including shopping areas) in order to optimize mobility flows according to different criteria.

We are seeking an exceptional PhD candidate to fill a sponsored research position involving the development of novel methods to capture and process human perception data as well as to integrate human perception information into mobility simulation tools.

This PhD project will be part of the research collaboration between the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that aspires to advance the state-of-the-art of integrating perception data into simulation models.


  • Passion for finding creative solutions for bridging the gap between the natural and social sciences
  • Outstanding master´s degree and proven experience in either computer science, software engineering, applied mathematics or sociology, environmental psychology, transportation research with a strong interest in exploring the synergies between engineering and psychology
  • Candidates should have strong, proven knowledge in some of the following areas:
    • Data management (e.g. database systems)
    • Pattern Recognition
    • Mathematical modeling and computer simulation in the field of transportation
    • Good programming skills in Matlab and/or Java
    • Behavior research (e.g. neuroscience, psychology, social science, gaming, or human computer interaction)
  • High motivation for research and capability of working in an autonomous way
  • Excellent communication skills in English, both written and oral form


  • Begin: Immediately
  • Duration: 3 years

Place of employment: Vienna, Austria; research visits at the MIT

We are pleased to invite interested persons who wish to contribute their knowledge, their network and their ideas to the field of applied research. Please attach meaningful application documents, including certificates and photos.

Mrs. Maria Leonhard-Maurer, MSc
Head of Human Resources
2444 Seibersdorf
Tel.: +43(0) 50550 – 2032

click here to apply and to learn more about AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH
Donau-City-Straße 1 | 1220 Wien, Austria | T +43 (0) 50550-0 | F +43 (0) 50550-2201, |, T +43 (0) 505 50, F +43 (0) 505 50-2201,

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MIT Study On Disease Contagion Identifies & Ranks Airports In Terms of Their Ability To Spread Pandemic Diseases

July 25, 2012 at 2:55 pm

(via MIT News)

Airports in New York, Los Angeles and Honolulu are judged likeliest to play a significant role in the growth of a pandemic.

Apart from the aesthetic beauty this dynamic data visualization, the video also offers a lot to think about if you are a person tasked with natioanl security should a contagious disease be detected…  Also, it helped me understand how pandemics can easily spread between far flung places via air travelers. Pretty interesting yet quite scary stuff..  That said, it makes me wonder how ready is our aviation infrastructure to handle a healthcare crisis like the one triggered by SARS or h1n1 virus a few years a back..

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Click here to read the analysis published on MIT News

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The Copenhagen Goodness – Awesome Hybrid Bike Wheel Wins U.S. Dyson Award

August 13, 2010 at 3:30 pm

The Copenhagen Wheel, developed by a MIT-team led by Christine Outram, joins nine other regional-designs winners to compete for the grand-prize winner ($15,000 for themselves or their team, and another $15,000 for their school department). Results will be announced on Oct. 15th.

Amplify’d from

An ingenious wheel that could turn any bike into an electric hybrid has won the U.S. round of the James Dyson Award, an event that’s become the world’s premier student-design competition. Tonight, the winner will be formally announced, at a Designer Pages event discussing the bright, bold future of design.

What they came up with is a hybrid wheel, which generates electricity during braking (similar to the regenerative braking you find in many car hybrids). It then offers that electricity as a power boost up hills or over long distances. That power is controlled by an iPhone interface. (Shades of Apple’s Smart Bike!) Why’s all this groundbreaking? The hope is that hybrid power, by making previously difficult bike commutes easy, could make bikes a viable option for countless more commuters.



MIT’s mobile application demonstrates the size of your Carbon footprint by your transportation mode choice & much more

March 25, 2009 at 5:54 pm

The school’s Mobile Experience Lab explores the future of life with the mobile handset

(Source: ContactlessNews via Bernie Wagenblast’  TCN)

Most trials of Near Field Communication (NFC) have involved payment applications at the neighborhood department store, restaurant or transit agency. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge took a different tact, however, attempting to illustrate the many other ways NFC could be used in everyday life.

The result was a video featuring several students and how they utilized NFC-compliant cell phones. Right now, it’s more a vision on how NFC can influence the lives of citizens, says Federico Casalegno, director of MIT’s Mobile Experience Lab and one of the movers behind this NFC project.

The lab was created to close the breach between the university and industry. “Our group was to imagine new products and services for mobile phones three years out,” he says. “We wanted to know how users could take advantage of this new technology. We have a technology that is pretty secure and what we’re looking into is how we can use it to improve human experiences.”   Everything in the video is feasible now, albeit in many instances in just a prototype format. “But paying for transit or exchanging data through your phones or making payments, even networking and gaming are all available now,” says Casalegno.

One possible idea is to explore “how users can ride together and maybe collect eco points or monitor their eco footprint or their environmental impact,” says Casalegno. “You can monitor how many times you use public transit, or a private car versus a shared car or bicycle program. You could even have a friendly competition among users about who is collecting more eco-points.”
Potential NFC applications in the Transportation sector (pared down from a lengthy list):
  • Get your bike from the rack tapping the phone on the service pole. Monitor your movements inside the city or check the bike’s availability near you.
  • Car Pooling: Publish your proposals for car pooling, search for people who are also going where you need to go.
  • Smart objects: In addition to having your phone dial the number of the person in a picture, you could also send a text message to that person. The same system can work for bulletin boards, providing a shortcut for announcement details or contact information.
  • Carbon footprint monitoring: Track your footprint by your choice in transportation. Other potentials explored by MIT include using it with Zip Car, a car sharing service, allowing you to check availability, then rent and pay for the car.
Click here to reead the entire article.

Holy Grail of Electric Vehicle Technology? – A Lithium Ion Battery that Charges as Fast as a Supercapacitor

March 12, 2009 at 6:18 pm

(Source: Treehugger)

Is this the “Holy Grail” Battery We’ve Been Waiting For?

Nature published a very interesting paper by MIT researchers Byoungwoo Kang & Gerbrand Ceder this week: Battery materials for ultrafast charging and discharging. In it they claim that they have discovered a way to make a lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery charge and discharge about as fast as a supercapacitor. In practice, this could make plug-in hybrids and electric cars much more practical.

The Nature article states,  “Lithium-ion batteries are commonplace in everything from mobile phones to hybrid vehicles. “They’re essentially devices that move lithium ions between electrodes,” says Ceder. The batteries generate an electric current when lithium ions flow out from a storage electrode, float through an electrolyte, and are chemically bound inside the opposing cathode. To recharge the battery, the process is reversed: lithium ions are ripped from the cathode compound and sent back to be trapped in their anode store.

The speed at which a battery can charge is limited by how fast its electrons and ions can move – particularly through its electrodes. Researchers have boosted these rates by building electrodes from nanoparticle clumps, reshaping their surfaces, and using additives such as carbon. But for most lithium-ion batteries, powering up still takes hours: in part because the lithium ions, once generated, move sluggishly from the cathode material to the electrolyte.”

Here is the abstract of their paper:

The storage of electrical energy at high charge and discharge rate is an important technology in today’s society, and can enable hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and provide back-up for wind and solar energy. It is typically believed that in electrochemical systems very high power rates can only be achieved with supercapacitors, which trade high power for low energy density as they only store energy by surface adsorption reactions of charged species on an electrode material. Here we show that batteries which obtain high energy density by storing charge in the bulk of a material can also achieve ultrahigh discharge rates, comparable to those of supercapacitors. We realize this in LiFePO4 (ref. 6), a material with high lithium bulk mobility, by creating a fast ion-conducting surface phase through controlled off-stoichiometry. A rate capability equivalent to full battery discharge in 10–20 s can be achieved.

Click here to read the entire article.

MIT takes on global transportation challenge

March 4, 2009 at 8:51 pm

New initiative to pioneer 21st century solutions via greater coordination and interdisciplinary collaboration

(Source: MIT News)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology today launchedTransportation@MIT, a coordinated effort to address one of civilization’s most pressing challenges: the environmental impact of the world’s ever-increasing demand for transportation. Building on MIT’s rich tradition of engineering research and interdisciplinary collaboration, the new initiative will knit together the wide-ranging, robust research already under way at the Institute and create new opportunities for education and innovation.

The program’s creation comes as the global movement of people and things becomes increasingly unsustainable — a problem that cannot be pinned on any one mode of transport. Two-thirds of the world’s petroleum consumption is taken up by transportation-related needs. Projections indicate that demand for petroleum, if unchecked, may outstrip supply within a few decades, while carbon dioxide output across the globe could triple by 2050.Modern Gate

“The global transportation challenge is as multi-faceted as a problem could be, and it is hard to think of an institution better equipped to tackle it than MIT,” said Dean of Engineering Subra Suresh. “By coordinating our own efforts and leveraging connections among faculty across our schools — from researchers exploring efficient new fuels to those studying transportation as a system to those rethinking how our cities are organized — we can make important and innovative contributions and encourage the rapid development of new ideas in sustainability, technology, business practices, and public policy related to all modes of transportation.

Click here to read the entire article.

Speedy MIT Solar Race Car Is One Part Cylon Raider, One Part Flight of the Navigator

March 2, 2009 at 7:33 pm



MIT’s latest creation, a speedy solar car cheekily named Eleanor, can reach 90 mph (good for enticing lead-footed Americans) and is packed with tech that could outfit mainstream hybrids soon (good for everyone else).

Eleanor, with her flying saucer-esque lines and solar panel skin, was constructed by students in MIT’s Solar Electric Vehicle Team. The cutting edge electric vehicle tech contained inside comes with an unsurprising $243,000 price tag.

Click here to read the entire article.

MIT Technology Review: What the Fed Can Learn from California’s Energy Policy

February 24, 2009 at 12:30 am

(Source: MIT Technology Review)

The chair of the California Air Resources Board has some advice for the new administration.

In 2006, the state of California passed landmark legislation aimed at limiting green-house gas emissions. Under the Bush administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected the state’s request to regulate vehicular emissions. Earlier this month, the Obama administration announced it would reconsider this ruling–most likely in order to reverse it.

Mary D. Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, will be responsible for implementing the state’s climate change legislation. In a speech at the Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative annual Energy Symposium yesterday, Nichols had some advice for a new presidential administration with the will to act on climate change: follow California’s lead on energy efficiency because it’s been an economic boon for the state. Nichols mentioned a report by Next 10 that claims cutting energy usage over the past 30 years has created 1.5 million jobs in California. (Still, in a state characterized by suburban sprawl, carbon dioxide emissions are quite high, at 11 tons per capita per year.)

Click here to read the entire article.