Welcome to this week's Engineering360 news brief.

NASA and Uber Team Up

NASA and Uber Technologies, Inc. have entered into an agreement to investigate concepts related to safety Small vertical take-off and landing vehicles in an urban environment. Source: NASASmall vertical take-off and landing vehicles in an urban environment. Source: NASAin populated areas for urban air mobility technologies. NASA defines “urban air mobility” as a safe and efficient system for vehicles, piloted or not, to move passengers and cargo within a city. The agency will use their advanced airspace management computer modeling and simulation software and apply it to Uber's plans for an urban air taxi network to assess the impacts of small aircraft for vertical take-off and landing in these populated areas. This is new territory for NASA and will be their first time specifically modeling UAM operations. According to NASA, urban mobility could be a fundamental lifestyle change akin to smartphones. NASA's goal is to ensure that small aircraft entering the marketplace in urban environments are done safely, within acceptable noise limits and without becoming a burden on the existing traffic control systems.

Hybrid Engines to Merge Fuel Cells

Hybrid engine technology for electric power generation and transportation applications is under development at Stony Brook University. Armed with a two-year $2.3 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, the research involves developing and testing engines powered by internal combustion, such as gasoline or natural gas, and fuel cells. The goal is an efficient, low-emission hybrid power system that couples a pressurized solid oxide fuel cell with a split-cylinder internal combustion engine. The research will contribute to the development of advanced natural gas fueled, distributed electric generation systems with conversion efficiencies exceeding 70 percent, double the delivered efficiency of average utility-scale, fossil-fueled plants.

Artificial Intelligence Degree

This fall, Carnegie Mellon University will become the first in the U.S. to offer an undergraduate degree in artificial intelligence. Recognizing a lack of AI specialists and a growing demand for experts in the field of AI, the University expects to roll out the undergraduate degree program this fall. While many schools and universities in the U.S. offer AI classes for computer science and computer engineering students, Carnegie Mellon will be the first in the nation to offer an undergraduate degree exclusively in AI. Expected to include the same computer science and math courses as other computer science degree programs, the AI degree program will also offer courses on topics related to AI such as machine learning and symbolic computation. Additionally, the degree program will also include courses devoted to AI ethics and social responsibility.

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