The Excrevator will help put an end to emptying pit latrines by hand.Image: NC State University

The Excrevator will help put an end to emptying pit latrines by hand.
Image: NC State University

Critical technology gaps in water, sanitation, and hygiene are being faced all over the world. According to UNICEF, 2.5 billion people—36 percent of the world’s population—don’t have access to a toilet. Due to this, many people in the developing world either practice open defecation or utilize pit latrines. In turn, this leads to a high risk of contracting diseases ranging from typhoid to hepatitis.

Tate Rogers, an engineering student from North Carolina State University, decided that something has to be done about this. In 2011, Rogers began developing a device that would help those in the developing world more safely deal with raw sewage.

It’s four years later, and the project is still under way—but it’s beginning to come to fruition.


Graphene Light Bulb

When it comes to light bulbs, we’ve seen a lot of transformation since Thomas Edison’s practical incandescent bulb. Since then we’ve delved into fluorescent lights, and more recently, LEDs. Now we’re moving on to the next big thing in light bulbs, and that just may be graphene.

The new bulb is projected to last longer and cut energy use by 10 percent.


ECS Podcast – Jon Gertner, Author

Our second episode of ECS Podcast features Jon Gertner, author of The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation. Listen as we explore one of the most innovative institutions of the 20th century and how it revolutionized computing and information technology.

This episode of the ECS Podcast is available below and is free to download! (Also available through the iTunes Store and RSS Feed.)


Computer pioneer Grace Hopper

Computing pioneer Rear Admiral Grace Hopper as a LEGO minifigure.
image by: pixbymaia, image license: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

One of the quotes I like to keep on my desk is, “A ship in port is safe; but that is not what ships are built for. Sail out to sea and do new things.”

“Amazing Grace” Hopper, who said those words, certainly did new things. She was a computer programming pioneer, and the first woman at Yale University to earn a doctorate in math.

She is perhaps most noted for having invented key software technologies that laid the ground for today’s computer languages, and which remain a part of our everyday life. She was able to convince industry and government agencies to agree on a common business programming language, called Cobol, which (among many uses) is still used when you withdraw money from a cash machine.

She also worked on a device called the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, which worked out flight trajectories for rockets. Named for her are many places and objects, including the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Hopper, the Department of Energy’s flagship computer system “Hopper,” and the Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer at NERSC.

Read about just ten of the many women who changed the tech industry forever.

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