Sunday, January 5, 2020
Adapting Education to Overcome the STEM Workforce Shortage Many recruiters behauptung days are struggling to overcome the shortage of prized skills in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. To address this problem, the U.S. government recently announced a $200 million initiative to teach computer coding to young girls and minority students groups typically underrepresented in the STEM field in U.S. schools.The administrations actions reflect a growing awareness that society mustcreate more effective ways to train workers for new roles in the digital economy.Federal funding for in-school training programs is a good first step that should have an impact over time, but what can be done in the near term? One proven approach to meeting the growing demand for STEM grads is to harness the transferable skills and critical thinking of ur citizenry not currently trained in STEM.By identifying people from diverse backgrounds who want to be re-skilled for high-demand, high-worth tech jobs and matching them with the coursework they need to obtain STEM degrees, we can bridge the tech skills gap in the short term.STEM fields offer exceptional employment opportunities, long-term career potential, and competitive salaries that are up to 26 percent higher than other professions, so finding people who want to be re-skilled should not be too difficult.One solution involvesoffering STEM bridge courses toward a graduate STEM degreeto those from non-STEM bachelors degree backgrounds. In addition, by partnering with technology companies, educational institutions are developing more modern curricula to meet the timely demand for a cutting-edge STEM workforce. Such transition programs will be critical to building the skills and workforce diversity necessary to maintain U.S. competitiveness.Taking a More Direct Path to the STEM PipelineEducators have begun to recognize the value of creating a more direct path to a Master of Scien ce degree in high-demand fields such as computer science, bioinformatics, and cybersecurity. For example, Northeastern Universitys ALIGN program integrates substantial firsthand work experience in the field into each students coursework. Options include internships, co-ops, and mentorships. In this way, non-STEM students can build their resumes while leise working toward their graduate degrees.Academic bridge courses enable students to connect their past undergraduate experiences to new STEM career paths. In this way, people can quickly navigate career changes and break into tech fields withoutneeding to earn additional bachelors degrees.Anotherapproach involves plugging non-STEM students into broader networks beyond campus so that they gain exposure to employer partners, alumni, and other industry professionals.Launching Tech Boot Camps to Put STEM Boots on the GroundAnother strategy to grow the STEM workforce involves short re-skilling programs that combine many educational elemen ts, including high-demand skills training, hands-on work experience, and networking opportunities.At Northeastern University, we have developed a fast-track program for re-skilling and upskilling known as Level Education, which includes a significant experiential component with industry partners. Course requirements vary with no GRE requirements, and all graduates receive a certificate and the option to further their education through a variety of masters programs.The Level Education programoffers a range of ways to accommodate busy schedules. Students can choose between introductory, intermediate, and focused courses with flexible class formats including full-time, part-time, and hybrid courses combining in-person and online coursework.Currently, Northeastern has more than 300 students and alumni involved in these programs nationwide. In each case, a program professional supports the student for a one-on-one capstone project in which the student applies newfound data skills to solv e real-world problems. These capstone projects culminate with final reports in which students make formal presentations to real-world employers.All these innovative approaches can help more students graduate with technical certificates and portfolios of relevant projects that showcase the practical application oif their skills.We can no longer depend on 20th century educational models to build a 21st century workforce. Arming non-STEM graduates with new STEM skills and real-world experiences is the most direct way to instill the necessary confidence and optimism that can lead to new career opportunities.PK Agarwal isCEO and regional dean ofNortheastern University-Silicon Valleyand former CTO for California under Governor Schwartzenegger.
Tuesday, December 31, 2019
5 Leadership Traits of Top Law Enforcement Commanders5 Leadership Traits of Top Law Enforcement CommandersLaw enforcement jobs offer lots of opportunities to promote and advance your careerand to make a difference in not only the lives of people in your communitybut in your department. Such a unique opportunity to lead calls for unique traits from leaders. Leadership Traits of Successful Law Enforcement Commanders Here are five leadership traits that the best law enforcement commanders all share Vision An effective leader should have an mit niveau imagination for the unit. The leader understands where the group is and where it can be. A positive vision for the future of law enforcement will inform the direction of your workgroup and place it on a path toward sustained success for the entire organization. A successful commander understands the challenges your agency will face in both the near and distant futures. He must be able to realize the full potential that the command offer s with regard to policing concepts, resource allocation, and information and data sharing, all in furtherance of enhancing the capabilities and effectiveness of the work unit and ensuring a safer environment for residents and visitors. The vision should include increased collaboration among other sections and commands within your department, as well as with internal and external stakeholders. It should also include more information sharing and training for members at every level to promote buy-in and maximize the chances of success in implementing effective strategies. Inspiration The law enforcement leader should not only be inspiredbut inspiring. It is not enough to merely have a vision, but they must be able to help others see their vision and desire to see it to fruition themselves. By inspiring others to take ownership of the leaders vision, the successful commander helps provide the means and the motivation for their members to excel, individually and as a cohesive unit. The i nspirational leader must have the ability to communicate effectively, expressing empathy as well as clear expectations. Their members should know what the goals are for their unit and what parameters they must operate within to achieve those goals. Through regular communication with their members, they can better understand their concerns and help them better appreciate the vital role they play within the organization. They should serve as a motivator, encouraging the members of the unit to work toward excellence in the interest of public safety continually. Their intelligence and strength of character should serve as inspiration and example for their members to follow. Accountability To be truly effective, the police commander of must be accountable both to his superiors and the members he leads. An inspirational vision is nothing if it does not produce outcomes. The accountable leader should be expected to continually work toward the goal of maximizing outcomes with more efficient inputs. He seeks to understand what is expected of him entirely and works not only to meet but exceed those expectations. He takes complete responsibility for his units failures but makes sure to share his units successes, and his character is such that his motives arent questioned as he continually strives to do the right things for the right reasons. Accountability on the part of the leader, in turn, ensures accountability for his work groupand requires that the leader holds his members accountable for both their successes and shortcomings. Motivating through consequences- ideally positive but, whenever necessary, negative- fosters an environment of accountability for everyone and ensures sustained productivity and imparts meaning and purpose to work performed. Passion When a leader has a visible passion for their job, their enthusiasm fuels not only their own drivebut that of Their workgroup. To be successful, an effective leader must have a true passion for what the unit is abo ut. The successful commander takes on the challenges of the job with gusto, sharing passion and enthusiasm with others so that they see and understand how important their role truly is. Passion for the job provides the energy and stamina necessary to lead others into the future effectively and promotes a desire for sustained excellence throughout the unit and, indeed, the department. Humility The fruchtwein successful leaders realize that their accomplishments are not their own. If he is focused on seeking credit or praise for himself, he will lose the support and respect of the members whom he was entrusted to lead. Successful implementation of process improvements and best practices requires a team effort, and the best head coaches know it is their team, not themselves, who gets the win. The humble leader is a loyal leader, focused on making sure both his subordinates and superiors are credited with his successes so that the entire work unit is widely recognized as an effective an d influential component of the agency. Tapping Into Your Potential as a Leader Perhaps the best articulation of these leadership traits is found in a quote often attributed to President Ronald Reagan There are no limits to what you can accomplish, so long as you dont care who gets the credit. Within those words, you find the vision to see the endless possibilities your unit can achieve, the inspiration to want to reach them, the accountability for both success and failures, the passion for fueling the drive to excellence, and the humility to allow others to receive the credits and rewards for positive outcomes.
Thursday, December 26, 2019
15 Words and Phrases to Avoid During Salary Negotiations15 Words and Phrases to Avoid During Salary Negotiations2ensure you get the pay you deserve. After all, the right words can be powerful and signal your professionalism to a kompetenzprofil employer. The wrong ones, on the other hand, can weaken your hand and possibly do some serious damage to your future earnings with the company.Arm yourself with this list of 15 words and paroles to avoid in salary negotiations- and bolster your chances for getting the salary you want1. Im sorry.Its hard to come up with a phrase that signals weakness during negotiations as much as Im sorry. Unfortunately, women sometimes tend to apologize for circumstances that arent their fault, or are beyond their control. Even though you may mean it as a way to seem open, avoid saying Im sorry in salary negotiations since you risk looking like you could back down easily.2. I needIn salary negotiations, rather than making it all about what you want, turn the tables and make the conversation about the employers needs instead. Focus on what you bring to the table, and what you have to offer a profil employer.3. No.As powerful as it is, the simple word no can come off as whiny and obstinate. It may even make a potential boss conclude that youre not a collaborator or a good team player. Just as you dont want to be too eager to say yes, be very sparing with using the word no- or avoid it altogether in salary negotiations.4. Ill take it.As happy (and frankly, relieved) as you may be to get a great job offer, dont accept anything right away If youre worried that your eagerness might get the best of you, do a practice interview where you have a chance to calmly consider the offer. Plus, you wont come across as desperate, either.5. I dont know.If youve done your research, youdoknow what you want. You should know what kind of job you want, which duties allow you to excel, and what your skills andrelevant career experience are worth in the job mar ketplace. After all, if you say, I dont know, an employer might not know if they really want to hire you.6. I want mora.More can be a too-vague phrase that leads a job interviewer grasping for what it is youre seeking. More money? Then how much more? More workflexibility? In what way- flexible hours or an alternative schedule? Being as specific as you can in job negotiations can lead to happier conclusions for both parties. More might sound greedy, so be as specific about what it is youre really after.7. The least Id be willing to take isSalary negotiations are like high-stakes poker, so you dont want to reveal your hand right away. If you say the least amount youd accept for a salary, theres a good chance that will be what youre offered- and nothing more. Since you dont want to low-ball yourself, make sure any figures you mention are at the higher end of what you really would be willing to accept, rather than the lower end.8. Is that all?Whether youre using this phrase in reference to pay, or the power youll wield in a prospective job, try to avoid the appearance that youre grasping for more than the job may offer. While you may want as much as you can get, dont insult the employer by belittling the offer.9. The problem isIf youre raising potential problems before you even get in the door, you may look like a perpetually downbeat person who always sees the glass as half empty. Rather than talk about whats wrong, focus on whats right with a potential job, or what you can bring to the position to make it even better.10. Im actually looking forSay what? If you utter this phrase in an interview, the implication could be that while the current job or salary being offered is just OK, youd want something else if you had your druthers. If your intention is tonegotiate salary and benefitsthat meet your needs, precise language will increase your chances of getting what you want.11. I hate to ask, butIf you hate to ask a certain question in salary negotiations, here are two options dont ask it, or omit that conversation-stopping phrase and ask it directly. If the questions about money or flexible work options, simply ask your question directly or make it a statement. (Ive been a successful remote worker in the past, and believe I can be just as successful and productive in this job- as opposed to I hate to ask, but could I work remotely?) 12. My current salary isDepending on what stage of the interview process youre in, youll probably be asked what your current salary is if youre employed. Thing is, you never want to answer this question because it can kill any chances of negotiation in the future. You can politely and respectfully say that youd rather not disclose it. 13. Can we discuss it later?Unless youre an expert negotiator, negotiating makes most people feel uncomfortable. To avoid having to negotiate, you might say something like, Can we talk about salary later? but this isnt a good idea. If you dont address your salary negotiation right a way, it can appear like youre afraid or embarrassed to do so. Plus, if you wait too long to negotiate, not only are you just putting off the inevitable, but you might not have the same ability to negotiate for what you truly want. 14. I wantSalary negotiations are all about what you want, right? Wrong. If you start rattling off a laundry list of things that you want from a potential employer, it can come across sounding selfish and greedy. Instead, show your prospective boss what you can bring to the table, and how your skills and education make you a top choice for the job. Prove what youre worth by showing what you can do- and youll have a salary that you want. 15. Yes.If you think saying yes is good during a negotiation, think again. Saying yes to an offer too soon can cut your chances of getting an even better salary. No matter what offer is presented to you, its up to you to negotiate so that you can show you know what youre worth, and also possibly make that dream salary even sweeterA few powerful phrases to consider in salary negotiationsIm very excited.- Shows enthusiasm and a high level of engagement.I hope- Connotes optimism.I might be willing to consider- Signals openness in the negotiation process.Thank you. - Speaks for itself.Wish you could talk through your job search and career questions with someone?REGISTER FOR CAREER COACHINGJennifer Parris contributed to this post.This is a version of a post that was
Saturday, December 21, 2019
17 Twitter Accounts for Older Workers to Follow17 Twitter Accounts for Older Workers to FollowIn fact, over the next eight years, groups of workers who are 65 to 74 years old and 75 and up will have the fastest rate of growth among all age groups, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.Some simply want to work while others require financial stability. But many older workers will be changing the way they work as well.According to a 2015 survey from AARP, 73% of those who said they were planning on working post-retirement said they would do so part-time, while 44% said they would consider a new field.Of course, during that transition,you might need someone to turn to who can give you some good old-fashioned career advice. To help get you started, weve compiled a list of career experts.The next time youre on social media, check out these 17 career experts for older workers to follow on TwitterAshlea Ebeling - ashleaebelingAshlea Ebeling is an associate editor at Forbes, where she writes about personal finance and how people can learn to create, manage, and enjoy wealth.Dana Anspach - moneyover55Founder and CEO of Sensible Money, Dana Anspach helps people manage their money in retirement through savvy financial planning. She is also the author of Control Your Retirement Destiny and Social Security Sense.Diana Schneidman - DianaSchneidmanIf youre looking for a way to earn extra income, Diana Schneidman has proven methods that work. Her bookReal Skills, Real Incomeis a primer for those who might be contemplating a career change, or want to change their lives.Jim Miller - TheSavvySeniorNBC Today Show contributor Jim Miller runs a website thats chock-full of resources for older workers, including information on housing, healthcare, travel, volunteering, and more.Jo Ann Jenkins - JoAnn_JenkinsAs the CEO of AARP, Jo Ann Jenkins is dedicated to helping people 50+ realize their hopes and dreams. She recently tweeted about the AARPs $60 million funding f or the Dementia Discovery Fund, which is focused on helping find solutions for those living with dementia and Alzheimers.John Tarnoff - johntarnoffThe author of Boomer Reinvention How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50, John Tarnoff is a reinvention career coach, speaker, and creator of the Boomer Reinvention Methodology.Kerry Hannon - KerryHannonThe author of Great Jobs for Everyone 50+ Kerry Hannon is a career expert who offers advice on the topics of career transitions, personal finance, and retirement.Marc Miller - CareerPivotMarc Miller is dedicated to helping people- particularly baby boomers- find notlage just jobs, but careers that will last them a lifetime. His popular book, Repurpose Your Career A Practical Guide for the Second Half of Life, offers strategies to take what youve learned in your old career and apply it to the next phase of your life.Marci Alboher - heymarciMarci Alboher is a career expert, penning articles on topics such as encore careers and slash care ers. She is currently the vice president, strategic communications at Encore.org, a site celebrating the talents and goodness of people 50+.Mark Miller - RetireRevisedMark Miller is a retirement columnist for Reuters Money and Morningstar, and is a contributor to the New York Timesand AARP magazine. He is a nationally recognized expert on retirement and aging trends.Mitchell Tuchman - MitchellTuchmanInvestment advisor Mitch Tuchman counsels clients on how to grow their money so that they can have solid savings when they decide to retire. He offers retirement advice through his website, rebalance-ira.com.Nancy Collamer - NancyCollamerNancy Collamer is a semi-retirement coach and the author of Second-Act Careers 50+ Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. She is also a writer for Next Avenue and Forbes.Next Avenue - NextAvenueFor the over 50 set, Next Avenue offers tips not just on careers and retirement, but has stories and advice on other important topics too, such as health, caregiving, and technology.Randi Bussin - Aspire4successRandi Bussin works as a personal branding strategist and career reinvention specialist. She offers advice on topics such as shifting from the corporate to the nonprofit world, how to network, and ways to find your career tribe.Sally Abrahms - sallyabrahmsSally Abrahms is an award-winning writer focusing on people over 50. She has written for the New York Times, Newsweek, Forbes, theWall Street Journal, and theBoston Globe, among many media outlets on topics such as senior living, caregiving, technology, and work.Senior Planet - seniorplanetSenior Planet is a project of Older Adults Technology Services (or OATS). It empowers older adults to use computers, and on a deeper level, lead more independent, fuller lives.The Unretirement Project - UnretirementProThe Unretirement Project helps people redefine retirement and what it truly means to them. They tweet about topics such as freelancing in retirement and what happens when you retire early.Looking for new career opportunities?Browse Open Flexible Jobs
Monday, December 16, 2019
10 Big Mistakes Vets Make Applying to Federal Jobs10 Big Mistakes Vets Make Applying to Federal Jobs10 Big Mistakes Vets Make Applying to Federal JobsLeaving a military career after 5, 10, or 20 years is traumatic. The career transition out of military is difficult no matter what your rank. The good news is that the federal government is basically just the other side of the desk. Youre going to take the hands-on skills and technical training from your military experience and convert it over to the policy, program, support, and administration side of the work you have been doing maybe. The first federal resume after military is your fruchtwein important resume and the most complex because you will translate your skills for a new career, mission, and customer.Veterans are perfect for federal civil service positions because of their dedication to public service, the nations security, specialized expertise, knowledge of certain missions, technical skills and training, leadership, dedic ation, work ethic, attitude and willingness to learn and start-over. Whats more, these skills allow you to add 5 or 10 preference points to your application score.However, sometimes transitioning veterans rush through the federal application and make several mistakes when applying for public-sector jobsTOP 10 MISTAKES1.) I only apply for jobs on USAJOBS (or CPOL or DONHR or WHS).If you limit your search to just one agency or website, you are truly restricting yourself.There are at least five major sites where you can create a profile, set up a resume builder, answer questions, and apply for a federal job www.usajobs.gov The official government jobs website, includes Air Force civilian positions www.cpol.army.mil The website where all Army jobs are posted and where you would apply for an Army position military.com/careers A commercial site that manages resumes and job postings for federal agencies. www.donhr.navy.mil The website for Navy and USMC civilian positions www.whs.mil D epartment of Defense civilian jobs are posted here as is the resume builder and application.2.) I only apply for jobs without KSA narratives.If you limit your search to applications that do not require KSAs, you will cut out many job opportunities with the Departments of HHS, VA, Interior, Commerce, Justice, Labor, Transportation and others. You will need to learn how to write KSA narratives and questionnaire essays for a successful federal job search. KSAs are just examples that demonstrate you have a certain Knowledge, Skill or Ability. You can use the KSA Builder developed by The Resume Place to write your stories that will demonstrate that you do have a certain knowledge, skill, or ability.3.) I have never written a resume and I dont know how to get started.Its time to find the position descriptions, old SF-171s, evaluations, NSPS self-assessments, training documents and build your federal resume. The author of this article has developed a free federal resume builder where you can build your work experience, education, training, accomplishments, certifications, and other information.4.) Service before self. Thats what we are taught. Im not used to bragging, so I usually dont select the highest level in the questionnaires (or go on and on about accomplishments).When you read the selection of self-assessment answers, be very careful to think about all of the experience you have. An EPA federal human resources specialist said this about the questionnaires and your choices Give yourself all of the leistungspunkt that you can in selecting the answers in a Questionnaire. The questionnaires are scored like an examination, so your skills at the highest level will be important to get referred for a position.5.) My job was totally unique and I cant write about all that I did in the last 5 years, etc.This is a challenge because there is a unique military language with its own acronyms. However, you can write about the skills that you have, including instruction, planning, leading a team, mentoring, personnel operations, administrative operations, problem-solving, negotiations, advocacy, interpersonal skills, and technical skills. The military-to-federal resume requires a translation of skills to the new agency. Your past mission may not match, but the skills CAN match. And you can prove one year specialized experience, as long as that one year doesnt require special mission knowledge. In other words, if you change from military to transportation, the transportation announcement may require experience in transportation.6.) I have used the resume I developed from TAP class and its not getting me referred although Im qualified for these positions.The private-industry resume is shorter than a typical federal resume. The bullet style, one-line description resume wont be as effective for a federal resume. The recommended format is the outline format. This features your top skills that are transferable to the new position. You could write your de scription in five or six small paragraphs with headings such as trainer / instructor team leader and teamberater emergency operations planner interpersonal skills and liaison administrative operations. These five skills are the most transferable. After you create the outline of your duties with five or six sentences to describe each, you can add two or three accomplishments that will include your outstanding services in your operation.7.) I didnt know I had to tweak and edit my resume for each announcement.With the Army website, www.cpol.army.mil, you could apply to 10 jobs in one day very easily because this system is a Resume Only application with a Self-Nomination online form. But you really should slow down and read the announcement carefully to find the keywords for your resume because the HR specialist will be looking for these keywords throughout your resume. If you havent edited each resume with keywords, your resume may not get referred. You can apply quickly, but why both er if you dont edit and tweak the resume to make sure the keywords are included?8.) I have accomplishments embedded in the duties section.Military personnel will write one huge block of information for their duties and include the accomplishments somewhere in the middle of the paragraph. This type of content will be difficult to read and difficult for the busy human resources specialists who want to find the best qualified applicants. There is a difference between a regular duty and an accomplishment. They are both important on the federal resume. But the accomplishments are critical if you are to stand out as the most qualified candidate.If you have had a job for over two years then you have probably been involved with special projects, problem-solving, new programs, new initiatives, new computer programs to improve efficiency, and staff changes. Accomplishments might include your assignment to a task of managing a special operations, situation or program, implementing new process es, and achieving a result. These accomplishments should be written separately from the duties, so that it is clear you have performed more than your position description and you are worthy of a promotion. Furthermore, you want to let the HR specialist know that youre a federal employee who can resolve problems, take care of customers very well, and achieve and exceed support to the mission.9.) I didnt realize that my 5 or 10 point preference really makes a big difference.Yes, most military personnel will have 5 point preference for service within the last 3 years. Military personnel with disabilities may have a 10 point preference for their application. Your 5 or 10 point preference can give you an advantage over a candidate that does not have preference points.10.) I cant take personal credit for the work of my team, so what should I write?The team mentality of federal employees and supervisors is not going to get you hired. Its time to take credit for your contributions as a lead er. Before you apply, ask yourself the following questions Would the project have been successful without you? Did you set the agenda? Establish priorities? Assign tasks? Solve the problems as they occurred? Brief senior executives on status? Manage resources throughout? Create reports and analyze progress? Lead the team members to meet deadlines and review the quality of their work? Did you babysit the group on occasion? Then you need to take credit for leadership, innovation, new ideas, methodologies, policies, procedures, project management strategies that YOU developed and implemented. You are the leader of the team, program, project or group. Write about your leadership and the outcome of the group you lead.The government has on average 100,000 jobs everyday posted on the main website USAJOBS.GOV. Consider these positions seriously. They are worth your time and patience. There are good books on federal resume writing and federal job search strategies. Studying federal resume s amples and KSAs can help you master the federal job search process and result in a career that can change your life.Need help with your veteran federal resume? Ask for a Free Federal Resume Estimate from The Resume PlaceConsider the Military to Federal Career Guide Print Book or eBook
Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Hot Opportunities in Microfluidics for Mechanical Engineers Hot Opportunities in Microfluidics for Mechanical Engineers Hot Opportunities in Microfluidics for MEsMicrofluidics is a rapidly growing engineering field that also requires a working knowledge of physics, biology, and chemistry. It has become a fundamental platform technology for the testing and production of liquids, particles, fibers, and the encapsulation of biological materials.Rapid advances in the field are driven by the point-of-care diagnostics boom for health care, which research firm Research and Markets expects to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 19 percent through 2023.Exciting new applications are developed every year, says Faisal Shaikh, an associateprofessor in the Department of Physics and Chemistry at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in Milwaukee, WI. It can be simple and commonplace as inkjet print heads or as complex as the 3D-printing of organs.For You Industry Advances Innovative Uses for Modeling and Simulation There is a vast amount of untapped befhigung for growth and applications of microfluidics, with the real potential to revolutionize several industries, especially healthcare.Prof. Faisal Shaikh, Milwaukee School of Engineering microfluidic chip with colors representing different chemical treatments that would be delivered to cells inside each chamber. Image NISTMicrofluidics projects typically depend on cross-disciplinary teams, usually mechanical, chemical, and electrical engineers and biotechnologists. Collaborations are key to the success of these hybrid projects and provide excellent learning and leadership opportunities for MEs, Shaikh says.Mechanical engineers are required for their expertise in product design, including material choices, fabrication methods, device design simulation, operation, optimization of every aspect of design and operation, and testing and validation.MEs interested in working in microfluidics will find the follo wing capabilities helpfulGood communication and collaboration/teamwork skillsGood leadership skillsInnovative mindset and proactive work ethicEntrepreneurial mindsetKnowledge of good manufacturing practicesModeling/simulation skillsMaterial characterization skillsAdvanced fluid dynamics knowledgeKey Research AreasBiotechnological microfluidic applications include the diagnosis, detection, and analysis of biological molecules or cells. Mechanical engineers who want to be involved in designing healthcare innovations will be interested in lab-on-a-chip devices (LOCs) and micro-electro-mechanical-systems (MEMS), both of which are fast-paced fields.Another key research area is paper microfluidics, which uses patterned paper that is treated at specific sections as the substrate for point-of-care-diagnosis devices.The cost savings and the simplicity of use with these devices is mind-blowing, Shaikh says. One of the real-world applications for this technique is rapid and inexpensive disease diagnosis in developing countries, particularly where access to healthcare is limited.Organ-on-a-chip devices, another hot research area, allow cell cultures and constructs to be studied within a lab-on-a-chip device that mimics the microenvironments inside the human body. This technology can replace animal testing for new pharmaceutical drug development and shorten the process of drug development by several years. Pharmaceutical companies are excited and investigating the effectiveness of these devices.Cutting Edge ResearchOne of the most interesting projects Shaikh has undertaken is the fabrication of a lab-on-a-chip device for biological analysis. The fabrication process involved the same steps used in silicon microfabrication, including the deposition of different metal patterns and the addition of a microfabricated glass microchannel, followed by making microscopic electrical connections on these chips.The variety of methods and processes used in the fabrication of these devic es was a great learning experience, adds Shaikh. There were technical and engineering challenges at every stage of fabrication. For example, initially the patterned metals came off the chip surface when it was used, so thicker layers of the metal and other metals were employed to solve this issue.Another interesting area of research is in-air microfluidics. In this new chip-free platform technology, liquid microjets react chemically or physically in the air to form encapsulated droplets, particles, or fibers, which can then be direct-deposited onto a substrate for the 3D-printing of multiscale modular materials in one step.Professional Development and TrainingUnfortunately, not many short courses in microfluidics are available to professional engineers. There seems to be more industrial activity around microfluidics inEurope than in the U.S., Shaikh says. Therefore, more training or collaboration opportunities may be available with European partners.Any training should include a sig nificant hands-on component, which could include modules on microfluidic device design, cleanroom fabrication (soft lithography, hot embossing, micro-milling), and testing.There is a vast amount of untapped potential for growth and applications of microfluidics, with the real potential to revolutionize several industries, especially in healthcare, Shaikh says. I believe that big changes are coming in the near future.Mark Crawford is an independent writer.Read MoreMRI-Safe Robots Treat Epilepsy3D Printing Better Root CanalsAn Early and Instant Check for Breast Cancer For Further Discussion
Saturday, December 7, 2019
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