Archive for March 17th, 2010

The balancing act for Universities

March 17, 2010

Michael Atiyah, in an interview in Mathematical Intelligencer (published long ago, in 1984):

Universities are institutions that are educational and involved in research. I think that is very important–there should be unity in the university and unity in the whole social structure that attempts to keep a broad balance between mathematical research and mathematical education. And when universities give courses for educational purposes, they should be sure that they are performing the right task for the students, not just giving courses in (say) advanced topology because they are interested in turning out research students. That’s a disastrous mistake.

Universities must try to balance two activities. They ought to know what’s useful for students to learn, bearing in mind what they are going to be doing later on. At the same time, they ought to foster research. Some people will be doing all research and some people will be mostly teaching, and mainly people will be in between. Although I am only involved with the research end of it, I live in the university, I have colleagues in the university, I know what they are involved with, so I am concerned to see that a proper balance is struck between the different functions of the university.

A good one!

Skills for graduates!

March 17, 2010

Communication skills — written and oral — are an important component of university education, and are also very priced in the job market. At InsideHigherEd, I see that the bar has been raised — to include fluency with the use of audio-visual material:

I’ll share my favorite 10, modified somewhat from the original list.1. Start a Blog

2. Buy an Audio Recorder and Learn to Use It

3. Start Editing Audio

4. Post an Interview (or Podcast) on Your Blog

5. Learn How to Shoot, Crop, Tone, and Optimize Photos (And Add Them to Your Blog)

6. Learn to Create Effective Voice-Over Presentations with Rapid Authoring Software

7. Tell a Good Story with Images and Sound

8. Learn to Shoot Video

9. Edit Your Video with iMovie or Windows Movie Maker

10. Publish Your Video on Your Blog.

And, I tend to agree — the written and oral communication are no more confined only to words and drawings.

Magnetic manipulations for microelectronic fabrication

March 17, 2010

An interesting piece from the latest PNAS:

Magnetically driven three-dimensional manipulation and inductive heating of magnetic-dispersion containing metal alloys

J D Calabro et al

Fundamental to the development of three-dimensional microelectronic fabrication is a material that enables vertical geometries. Here we show low-melting-point metal alloys containing iron dispersions that can be remotely manipulated by magnetic fields to create vertical geometries and thus enable novel three-dimensional assemblies. These iron dispersions enhance the mechanical properties needed for strong, reliable interconnects without significantly altering the electrical properties of the alloys. Additionally, these iron dispersions act as susceptors for magnetic induction heating, allowing the rapid melting of these novel alloys at temperatures lower than those usually reported for conventional metal alloys. By localizing high temperatures and by reducing temperature excursions, the materials and methods described have potential in a variety of device fabrication applications