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5 Inspirational women from the world of engineering

5 Inspirational women from the world of engineering | Health & Engineering |
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Can men multi-task? It’s a joke that’s passed through generations - yet there’s plenty of males who can actually perform this elusive skill. Extraordinary, isn’t it? There’s a silly myth out there for women, too. And that’s the one that says we can’t “do” engineering.


Ever wonder who invented the windshield wiper? That would be Mary Anderson in 1903; and without that ingenious bit of engineering our roads would be one hazardous affair. Then there’s Hedy Lamarr, the sultry 30’s movie star - lesser known for her invention of a remote-controlled communications system for the U.S military during World War II. Without her frequency hopping theory, the wifi you’re using to read this article would not exist.


Though the industry continues to be a male dominated profession; more and more women are choosing engineering careers - and, contrary to a few opinions, are massively successful doing so. If women don’t think they’re welcome in a market, the sector could be missing out on some of the most talented individuals to walk our planet. Here’s just a few of the women who’ve made a positive impact in the engineering world:


Marita Cheng - founder of Robogals


At 25 years old, Marita is an engineer simply dripping with cool: she founded Robogals in 2008, an organisation encouraging young women into STEM careers; won Young Australian of the Year in 2012 and established a company to make robotic arms for people with disabilities in 2013. She now travels the country delivering speeches and teaching girls robotics.


2. Marissa Mayer - CEO at Yahoo!


Before she became the president and CEO of Yahoo, Mayer was employee number 20 at Google, becoming the company’s first female engineer. She started out writing code and supervising small teams of engineers, before developing Google’s search technologies and working on the key products we all use today: images, maps, books, news and the toolbar.


3. Ruchi Sanghvi - head of operations at Dropbox


Facebook is revolutionary in our lives, with 1.23 billion users logging on every month. Ruchi Sanghvi was the first female engineer hired by the social networking website: one of the primary developers for the News Feed we casually scroll down every day. Her company Cove was acquired by Dropbox, the file synchronization and backup service, in 2012; of which Sanghvi became Vice President before taking an advisory role to focus on other projects.


4. Maja Matarić - professor of robotics at USC


Maja won ABI’s Women of Vision award in 2013, and boy did she deserve it. Her research is aimed at building robots that help people, particularly those with special needs. These include stroke patients, children at risk for obesity, individuals with dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease and the elderly.


5. Cynthia Maxwell - director of engineering at Yahoo!


Breaking into the industry as an intern at NASA, Cynthia became senior research scientist at the NASA Research Center; creating virtual environments for astronaut training, telemedicine and surgical planning. She worked on Apple’s audio system for six years before taking on iOS engineering for iTunes, iPad and iBooks. She was one of the first 15 people hired at Pinterest and landed a role as chief officer for the social networking site. She now manages iOS and Android teams at Yahoo, using her vast experience in engineering to guide product and design teams - now that’s one impressive CV.


Let’s hear it for the girls! If that’s fuelled your fire, be sure to check out Orion Group, 


for their huge selection of engineering careers.

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Stem cell stroke therapy shows promise after first human trial - Gizmag

Stem cell stroke therapy shows promise after first human trial - Gizmag | Health & Engineering |
London researchers have revealed that stroke patients in a pilot study all showed improvements after stem cell therapy (Photo: Shutterstock). A pilot study undertaken by researchers from Imperial College Healthcare NHS ...
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How art can unlock new futures for prisoners

How art can unlock new futures for prisoners | Health & Engineering |

Behind every prison statistic, every number, every crime, there is a human being with a story of how they came to be behind bars.


Through her charity Stretch, Carlotta Allum aims to explore these stories, re-engage these human beings and use the arts to give them more choices on release than simply re-offending.


‘The prison community has a story to tell, often heartbreaking, compelling, extraordinary or scary,’ says Carlotta, ‘By creating art work, by using the language of art, we are able to express ourselves and communicate in a language far removed from the  dry and prickly world of 'criminal justice', 'back to work schemes' and probation interviews.’


And she knows what she’s talking about. Carlotta’s own story is a fascinating tale of how a well-educated young woman from a loving, supportive family can end up making catastrophic life choices.


As a teenager, she got caught up in Manchester’s explosive drug scene and started to date a dealer. The lifestyle, the money and, of course, the narcotics themselves, were intoxicating and over time, Carlotta was drawn deeper and deeper into the seductive world.


It all came to an abrupt end after she flew into Los Angeles with 10,000 Ecstasy tablets taped to her thighs. As the plane taxied into LAX, armed officers and dog handlers were waiting for her.


The 25-year-old had to call her parents and tell them she was in a US jail. Eventually, she agreed to testify against the pusher who had arranged the deal, bail was set and her shocked mum and dad remortgaged their house to raise the cash to get her home.


‘Why did I do it? I was young, naive and I was offered a lot of money,’ she explains, ‘And I was living in the sort of circles where it seemed a normal thing to do.’

The years that followed gave Carlotta plenty of time to reflect on her decisions as a young adult, and while she felt guilt and shame, she couldn’t forget the kindness that other prisoners had shown her while she was in jail.


She established Stretch as a way of repaying that kindness and offering a helping hand to as many marginalised people as possible.


‘Working with prison art has helped me to come to terms with my own experience. I had found it hard to align my new life with my time in prison, but it obviously drives me,’ she says.


‘This is ultimately therapeutic and gives me new perspective on my experience. I see this in inmates I work with; they go on a journey over the project, they resolve something, or they forget for a moment where they are.’


In recent years, Stretch has developed an award-winning new programme, using digital media to support film-making, story-telling and practical IT skills.


The charity is currently delivering this programme at HMP Peterborough, working with the art class on the men’s side.


Carlotta opened the cohort with story-telling, including portraiture and an examination of the names we give ourselves and the words used to describe ourselves. Inspired by artist Jeremy Deller, she and the prisoners worked on slogan t-shirts and alternative portraits.


As well as working on a therapeutic level, there’s a strong practical point to  the programme as well.


Every year, more than 80,000 prisoners are released from prison but nearly two thirds of them will have re-offended within two years.


Carlotta explains: ‘We know that there are many factors contributing to this, including family, social, educational and work problems. One of the real tragedies from this re-offending is the loss of the ex-offenders’ potential contribution to society and the damage to their families and children.


‘Stretch Digital hopes to help ex-offenders solve some of these problems by becoming self-employed, or to think about marketing freelance skills online.’


Rod Clark, chief executive of the Prisoners Education Trust, agrees, ‘These days most people could not function without computers or the internet and if we can’t work, find a job or study without the use of ICT, how can we expect people in prison to do so? Technology can provide us with many solutions to help rehabilitate people in a safe, secure way and if we do not explore them, then we risk sending more people back into society without the skills or the motivation to live a life free from crime.’


The type of work Stretch does is certainly backed up by the latest thinking on rehabilitation. The College of Occupational Therapists has stated that ‘whilst prisons are not therapeutic environments, some prisoners require a therapeutic approach during periods of vulnerability.’

It points to research showing that prisoners engaging in purposeful activities are less likely to self-harm or commit suicide, for example, and has called for more funding for life skills and creative programmes to be rolled out in the nation’s prisons. If you are inspired by the idea of helping to rehabilitate offenders, you can search the latest jobs in the occupational therapy sector at .

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Sarepta leaps into Ebola spotlight with a shelved therapy ...

Sarepta leaps into Ebola spotlight with a shelved therapy ... | Health & Engineering |
Back in the fall of 2012, Sarepta Therapeutics ($SRPT) took a hit when the Department of Defense decided to stop funding its work on an RNA-silencing treatment for Ebola. But there was a little-noticed footnote to that ...
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New weapon against cancer comes from patients' own bodies

New weapon against cancer comes from patients' own bodies | Health & Engineering |
Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania remove "T cells" and genetically modify them to recognize and attack cancer cells

Via Graham Player Ph.D.
Graham Player Ph.D.'s curator insight, December 14, 2013 11:02 AM

A gene therapy experiment designed to manipulate his immune system has proven successful in treating chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania removed "T cells," or white blood cells that help fight infections, from a cancer patient suffering from chronic lymphocytic leukemia. They then genetically modified the cells to recognize and attack cancer cells, and put the cells back into the patient’s body. After three weeks there was no of chronic lymphocytic leukemia in the patient’s blood.

"The T cell can grow and divide," says oncologist Dr. David Porter, who is part of the team overseeing the therapy. "In fact, we've seen for every T cell that we genetically modify and put into a patient's body, it has the ability to kill up to 93,000 leukemia cells."

In the next few months, doctors will start using this sophisticated immunotherapy in patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.