Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

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Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series  (Print This)

The National Academy of Engineering works with the Washington, D.C. region's only all-news radio stationWTOP Radioand the nation's only all-news radio station for federal employeesWFED 1500 AMto provide weekly features highlighting engineering innovations and stories that add technical context to issues in the news.

WTOP Radio

These features are now available as podcasts. Find out how to subscribe.

Your comments and ideas are welcome. Please share them with Randy Atkins at

WFED Radio

Nanotech Breast Cancer Treatment

In a Swiss Army knife approach to breast cancer therapy, engineers are creating tiny drugs that combine detection, targeting, and treatment.
Randy Atkins: The versatile nanoparticles contain chemicals that can both signal their location and attack cancer with light.  
Scott Brown, a University of Florida particle engineer, is coating them with glucose, a candy for cancerous growths.

Scott Brown: Cancer cells like to eat a lot more than normal cells so they’ll preferentially take up these particles.

Randy Atkins: Once filled up, cancer cells can easily be seen with imaging devices, and…

Scott Brown: …when we shine the light on the particles, they heat up and the heat will terminate the cells in which the particles are localized.

Randy Atkins: The technique might prevent surgery, but years of research is still needed.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.


Car Hack

Most of us are aware that our laptops or desktops can be vulnerable to cyber attack. But, as they become increasingly computerized, cars may become targets too.
Randy Atkins: Computers are making our cars safer and more fuel efficient, but  maybe also more vulnerable to malicious attack.

Yoshi Kohno: We found that while actually driving the car, someone connected to the car’s internal network could actually control almost all of the critical components within the car – from the braking system to the transmission to the lighting systems to the dashboard.

Randy Atkins:
Yoshi Kohno, a University of Washington computer scientist, plugged directly into a car’s diagnostics port for his tests.  But he says increasing use of wireless connections – from emergency communications to just unlocking doors – may be cause for concern.

Yoshi Kohno: If someone could compromise one of those wireless interfaces, what could they do to the computers in the car?

Randy Atkins: Kohno hopes his findings will encourage more thought about that, and security measures.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.


Even with good SPAM filters your in-box can get overloaded with junk. A new e-mail monitoring tool may help.
Randy Atkins: SPAM is usually detected by looking at an e-mail’s content.  But
Nick Feamster, of Georgia Tech, has engineered a technique that never sees messages at all…only the behavior of their senders.

Nick Feamster: We look at the traffic patterns in terms of what time of day a message might be sent, where it might be coming from, who it might be going to, and who else that sender might have talked to beside just you.

Randy Atkins: Feamster says the technology, which is already being used by some e-mail service providers, is nimble.

Nick Feamster: A computer program that needs to read an e-mail actually has to be fairly computing-intensive and fairly intelligent.  Our technique basically is just looking at very lightweight behavioral features, which means that it can be done at very high rates.

Randy Atkins: And catch more junk.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.


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