A Retired JPL Engineer’s Journey: From Space Probes to Carbon-Neutral Farming

Jay Schmuecker’s Iowa farm uses solar power to generate fuel and fertilizer on-site

12 min read
A tractor pulling a farm implement in a field.
Photo: Schmuecker Renewable Energy System

You could say that farming is in my blood: My grandparents on both sides ran large, prosperous farms in Iowa. One of my fondest childhood memories is of visiting my maternal grandparents’ farm and watching the intricate moving mechanisms of the threshing machine. I guess it’s not surprising that I eventually decided to study mechanical engineering at MIT. I never really considered a career in farming.

Shortly after I graduated in 1957 and took a job with the California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Lab, the Soviets launched Sputnik. I was at the right place at the right time. JPL was soon transferred to the newly formed NASA. And for more than 50 years, I worked with some of the brightest engineers in the world to send unmanned spacecraft—including Mariner, Viking, and Voyager—to all the other planets in the solar system.

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Video Friday: Guitar Bot

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

3 min read
Closeup of a robotic arm strumming an acoustic guitar

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!):

ICRA 2022: 23–27 May 2022, Philadelphia
ERF 2022: 28–30 June 2022, Rotterdam, Germany
CLAWAR 2022: 12–14 September 2022, Açores, Portugal

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos.

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Dress Smart: This T-Shirt Senses Breathing Problems

Prototype garment provides wireless, real-time monitoring of a wearer’s respiratory patterns

2 min read
Close up of a person wearing dark long sleeved shirt. Multiple blue sensors and wires cover it.

This new smart T-shirt has thin antennas incorporated in the cloth, which detect deformations in the antennas as the user breathes in and out.

Université Laval

This article is part of our exclusive IEEE Journal Watch series in partnership with IEEE Xplore.

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Electric utility infrastructure habitually falls prey to overgrown Right-of-Way, high winds, and harsh weather. Impactful events causing outages are increasing in frequency, and need to be endured without major disruptions in electric service. This webinar will discuss the application of covered aerial conductor to "harden" the electric utility grid so that unpredictable events don't result in unsustainable outages.

Speaker:

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