Roozbeh Jafari, associate professor of biomedical engineering, developed this smart device that translates sign language while being worn on the arm. The wearable technology combines motion sensors and the measurement of electrical activity generated by muscles to interpret hand gestures, and it could bridge the communications gap between the deaf and those who don’t know sign language. Although still in its prototype stage, it can already recognize 40 American Sign Language words with nearly 96 percent accuracy.
I can think of many things I wanted to be growing up, but an engineer was never one of them. The closest I ever came was assembling a model toy truck in elementary school. After a few test drives, the back wheel became loose, leaving the truck comically lopsided and signaling the end of that building endeavor.
It became a trend. In my first apartment, I tackled assembling a media cabinet. After organizing all the pieces into neat piles sorted by letter and number, I looked at the directions briefly, thought bravely, ‘Ok, this all makes sense, I can do this,’ and tossed them aside. When it was time to put the door knobs on, I discovered the doors were on backwards.
It’s not that I don’t like the
idea of building something; it’s the process that bores me. I’ve never been a patient person. And unlike what I hear a lot of engineers say, including my sister and brother-in-law, I’ve never had the urge to take something apart just to understand how it works. (What if I can’t get it back together again? Too risky.)
Last fall, however, I saw engineering in a different light while sitting in on an interview with M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of engineering at Texas A&M University. I left wowed, thinking, “Engineering is innovative. It’s design. It’s
creative.” And even though I’ve never set foot in an engineering classroom, I felt a resounding sense of admiration for those who do.
Through its 25 by 25 initiative, the College of Engineering—with Dean Banks at its helm—will enhance engineering education by increasing access to education and evolving teaching methodologies. You can read the complete story,
in this issue's cover feature. From new classroom technologies and innovative degree paths to interdisciplinary college partnerships and new programs to support students, Texas A&M is changing the face of engineering to meet the world’s future needs. When Dean Banks talks about the transformation, her excitement is palpable. You can sense a shift in thinking, a desire to stay ahead of the game, and a realization that as the demands and challenges of our world evolve and new technologies emerge, engineers must be, above all, adaptable. “The Big Shift: 10 Ways Aggie Engineering is Breaking New Ground,"
Who knows what our world will look like in 10 years? Or 50? It’s clear we are barreling toward something that looks smarter, faster and even more technology-driven. But how fast will we travel? How will we communicate? How will developments like artificial intelligence and robots, self-driving vehicles, smart and wearable technologies, and nanotechnology create a new world? How will humans adapt? So many unknowns face us. And yet, though we can’t predict the future, Dean Banks is determined and confident the college can prepare Aggie engineers for whatever it holds.