Divyansha Sehgal is a member of the Class of 2018 and in the College of Engineering. She is the Science Editor on the 134th Editorial Board and previously served as a news writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Siri debuted in 2011 as one of the first intelligent personal assistants. Since then, personal assistants have become an integral part of the smartphone experience, providing a way to more efficiently interact with the hand-held device. They can perform simple tasks like taking notes and setting reminders. While this doesn’t seem like much in 2016, these features were ground-breaking a mere five years ago. Today, Facebook uses facial recognition that makes tagging friends easier, while Netflix and Spotify use learning algorithms to suggest your next favorite movie.
With the historic agreement of the COP21 summit in Paris in December 2015, the international community collectively resolved to keep the rising temperatures under 2 degrees Celsius. It marked the world’s commitment to tackling global warming and encourages research and innovation would that keep the earth sustainable for future generations. With the renewed interest in lowering world temperatures, and the rapid depletion of fossil fuel reservoirs, it is important to look towards newer sources to fulfill the world’s energy requirements. Alternate energy resources like solar and wind power have been important allies in the strive to sustainability. An unconventional source of energy that has not received as much attention, however is geothermal energy.
With the attention that Mars has been getting, lately, a lot of people are now excited about the world of opportunities that it presents. However, even before the discovery of water on Mars in September 2015 or the release of the movie The Martian, a small group of students at Cornell have been working to prepare the next generation Mars rover which can work alongside humans on the planet. The Cornell Mars Rover team participates in the University Rover Challenge, which takes place on the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah. The competition encourages college students to design and build a rover that could be used in the field and rovers are tested on the basis of tasks that resemble what a mission from the future might look like. Cornell consistently performs well in the competition, according to John Draikiwicz ’17, the team’s engineering manager.
Philanthropic donations to Cornell increased by $44.5 million — about eight percent — from $546.1 million to $590.6 million for the 2014-15 fiscal year, according to the Council for Aid to Education. The council, which conducts an annual survey to calculate donations, ranked Cornell as the fifth university to receive the most donations, behind Stanford, Harvard, the University of Southern California and the University of California, San Francisco. Nationally, colleges raised a record $40.30 billion, which is the highest since the inception of the survey in 1957, according to the council. Frederick Van Sickle, vice president of alumni affairs and development, said the increase in donations is due to the vibrancy of Cornell’s alumni community. “Cornell is blessed with a passionately supportive alumni community that responded to the University’s needs and aspirations through the record setting and just-completed Cornell Now campaign,” Van Sickle said.
If you think of a robot, you’re probably picturing C-3PO, Ultron or Wall-E. But what if robots don’t need to be big, humanoid and upright? What if they aren’t even made of metal?
The Organic Robotics Lab in Kimball Hall, headed by Prof. Robert Shepherd, mechanical and aerospace engineering, focuses on creating such robots. They use soft materials to replicate movement and functions from organisms already found in nature.
Cornell alumnus and trustee emeritus Joseph H. Holland ’78 M.A. ’79 argued that just as three centuries of Great Awakenings have shaped American social and political values, so too must the 21st century Great Awakening foster racial justice at a lecture Friday titled “Racial Justice, Revival and the Refounding of America.”
President Emeritus Frank Rhodes introduced Holland to the audience as a Cornell alumnus, trustee, ordained minister, attorney, civic leader and activist entrepreneur. “He was an excellent student … but it was on the football field that a wider community got to know Joe,” he said. “In the year 1990, he was inducted in the Cornell Athletics Hall of Fame.”
Joseph H. Holland ’78 M.A. ’79 speaks Friday on racial politics and religion in America.Holland said his time at Cornell was one of great spiritual and intellectual growth. As a young Christian at Cornell, Holland said he noticed various connections between religion and reform in his history classes. “Professor Larry Moore noted that the First Great Awakening — the 18th century religious revival [that] permeated the 13 colonies for decades thereafter — had a profound impact on the culture and politics of the era,” he said.
This weekend, the engineering department hosted students, faculty and alumni at a series of talks, panel discussions and ceremonies commemorating 150 years of teaching and research. While the events opening events Friday focused on the college’s history, Saturday’s events looked to the future of both Cornell’s college and the engineering field in general. The first panel on Saturday examined what the University is doing to encourage entrepreneurship at both Cornell Tech, the University’s applied sciences graduate campus in New York City, and the Ithaca campus. Dan Huttenlocher, dean and vice provost of Cornell Tech, and Zachary Shulman ’87 J.D. ’90, director of Entrepreneurship@Cornell, joined Collins for an a discussion on the expansion of the department. Huttenlocher said Cornell Tech currently has four master’s degree programs already running, with two more to be initiated next year.
Surrounded by various artifacts showcasing Cornell Engineering’s past, College of Engineering alumni and faculty spent the weekend in Duffield Hall for various events celebrating the program. President Elizabeth Garrett praised the University’s engineering college at a lunch on Saturday, emphasizing the importance of a good engineering program at a research university like Cornell. “I don’t think that a great research university can continue to be great unless it has a spectacular college of engineering; not just because of what engineering does in its own orbit, but also what it means to all the other disciplines,” Garrett said. She said she feels great pride in not only the diversity of the college’s students and faculty, but also in “diversity in the way we approach teaching,” outlining the variety of opportunities students have to grow as individuals and hone their skills. “We also have opportunities for our students to put their knowledge to a test, in project team, in entrepreneurship programs including product design and manufacturing, including working with the Dyson School [of Applied Economics and Management] on a minor,” Garrett said.
Elie Kirshner ’18 announced Friday that he plans to run for a seat representing District 4 — which includes Collegetown and the Commons — on the Tompkins County legislature. Kirshner, an Ithaca native, described his decision to run as a way to give back to “the community that has already done so much” for him. “What made me decide to run was that I really have a passion and excitement for the future of Ithaca,” Kirshner said. ”I believe I have a lot to learn. I’m ready to listen and learn and be an effective representative.”
Kirshner said that he considers the issues of affordability, living wages, social justice and environmental sustainability to be of immense importance.
Mark Weinberger, the global chair and chief executive officer of professional services firm Ernst & Young, spoke Thursday in Statler Auditorium about the qualities that are necessary to a becoming a global business leader in today’s economy. Weinberger opened the talk by calling the current economy “remarkable,” saying the business landscape is rapidly evolving. “We have geopolitical uncertainties, we have technological revolutions, we have business model disruption and we have increased global connectivity like we have never seen,” he said. “All of this is going to have a profound effect on economy, society and on business models, and employment landscapes over the coming years.”
President Elizabeth Garrett, who moderated the talk, asked Weinberger how Cornellians should prepare to face the unique conditions of today’s economy. “As you know, we also want to help form the leaders of tomorrow, and we want to help our students deal with such an ever-changing and unexpected world,” Garrett said.