Monday, May 27, 2013

Galileo Satellite Navigation

On the website of the European Commission, there is a section of Audiovisual Services. These videos provide a variety of topics in many technical areas. One in particular is about Galileo, which is described this way on the website:

“The Galileo programme is Europe's initiative for a state-of-the-art global satellite navigation system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. The fully deployed system will consist of 30 satellites and the associated ground infrastructure. Galileo will be inter-operable with GPS and GLONASS, the two other global satellite navigation systems.”

The video is 2:51 minutes long, and provides practice in listening to different non-native speakers speaking English. There is one French speaker (with English subtitles). Each speaker mentions an advantage of Galileo and why it’s being implemented (what it will do). Students can listen and take notes.

Link to further information about the Galileo Satellite Navigation Programme:

This has a good graphic of the Galileo architecture. It’s a good example for students to consider for presentations and other situations when they use visuals to explain or describe something.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ekso Robot

My engineering students enjoy learning about new innovations in the field of robotics – even the students who are not studying robotic engineering. And I find that many robotic innovations relate to many different areas of engineering, e.g., biomedical, electrical, mechanical as well as software programming.

An interesting article I used in class recently is, “New Breed of Robotics Aims to Help People Walk Again” from The New York Times (September 11, 2012). In addition to a discussion about the topic, I used it to help students identify technical vocabulary and guide them in writing a short process description.

Link to article:

In addition to reading the article before the lesson, the students had to prepare the following tasks:
  • Make a list of nouns and verbs that you think are relevant for a process description of the Ekso. Include accompanying adjectives and/or prepositions.
  • Focus on those areas of the text that describe some part of the Ekso. In class we will choose appropriate linking words to combine these sections to make one complete process description.
  • Make a note of the features of the article that help a non-technical audience understand what it is and how it works.
  • Focusing on the first six paragraphs, identify the verb tenses used. What “rules” can you notice about the use of these tenses? (This group had already had a review of the verb tenses featured in the article, but this information could also be make into a separate lesson on the uses of the present, present progressive, past, and present perfect tenses.)
One lesson with this article focused on features of process description, and another lesson focused on features of language: verb tenses, collocations, linking and transition words.

This kind of work can be done with other articles about a new innovation in your students’ engineering field.

For another text on robotic engineering (with suggestions) see my Post 19: Cheetah Robot text to improve reading skills.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Planetary Society for engineering students

There are many aspects of space exploration that are of interest to engineering students in many different engineering fields. This website has a wide variety of material related to space technology, funding, photos, scientists, etc.

Link to home:

One part of the website is Planetary Radio, which is useful for both the classroom and for students to listen to privately. There is a lot of supplementary material for each program's topic. The program is described on the website this way:

"Each week, Planetary Radio visits with a scientist, engineer, project manager, astronaut, advocate or writer who provides a unique and exciting perspective on the exploration of our solar system and bezond. We also showcase regular features that raise your I.Q. while they put a smile on your face."

These features include contest questions, which students could participate in. Answers are posted a week later.

Planetary Radio:

One example of a radio program that my students enjoyed was The Basics of Interplanetary Flight. This was not only an interesting topic, but it provided material for technical process descriptions (relevant to many different engineering fields).

In addition to the radio programs, there are podcasts, videos, blogs, and a section of NASA photos.