Developments to Watch
TECHIE MANAGERS IN TRAINING
IN AN AGE WHEN THE most successful business person in America is a computer geek named Bill Gates, technological savvy is increasingly seen as key to corporate success. But executives at most large companies are trained either in business practices or technology, not both. To correct the imbalance, Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., has started a graduate business school focused solely on managing technology. And just to make sure it is meeting the needs of the corporate world, the school worked closely with executives from AT&T, IBM, and other high-tech companies to create a "customer-driven" curriculum for its so-called Masters of Technology Management (MTM) degree. "Teamwork is built in everywhere," says Stevens President Harold J. Raveche.
The program just got a large vote of confidence from one customer, in the form of a $6.63 million dollar gift from Wesley J. Howe, former chief executive of medical supplier Becton Dickinson & Co. and a Stevens alum. The school has enrolled 120 students in the MTM program this year, with an emphasis on individuals who already have an advanced technical background. Stevens also plans to team up with corporations to offer short courses for executives.By Elizabeth Veomett EDITED BY CATHERINE ARNSTReturn to top
A BROAD SPECTRUM OF USES FOR NEAR-INFRARED
FIVE YEARS AGO, GREG OLSEN and Marshall J. Cohen set out to build cameras capable of seeing wavelengths of light that are just longer than the visible red light at the edge of the rainbow. They figured the ability to detect this neglected part of the spectrum--called the near-infrared--would have lots of applications. Near-infrared cameras, for example, could provide a cheaper, more reliable way for a Star Wars missile defense system to spot heat from enemy missiles than today's liquid-nitrogen-cooled infrared cameras.
As it turns out, the camera built by their Princeton (N.J.) company, Sensors Unlimited, is more versatile than its inventors thought. "We didn't have a clue about some of the most interesting applications," says Cohen. For instance, many pigments are translucent to near-infrared light. So the camera, using indium gallium arsenide photodiodes, can "see" right through layers of paint. Already, art curators have used Sensors' camera to spot charcoal line drawings Rembrandt used to begin his paintings and to find changes Renoir made to his famous Luncheon of the Boating Party, such as covering a detailed landscape with an awning. Yet another surprise application is spotting ice on airplane wings, almost impossible to do with the naked eye.By John Carey EDITED BY CATHERINE ARNSTReturn to top
WILL THESE FRACTALS GET A WARM RECEPTION?
NATHAN COHEN'S CURIOSITY WAS PIQUED in 1987 when he first heard about fractals--geometric patterns that repeat the same basic theme in ever-increasing sizes. Snowflakes are nature's most familiar example. But Cohen, a radio astronomer and assistant professor at Boston University, wondered how fractals might play out in antenna designs.
The answer should be popping up next year in a new generation of cell phones with no protruding antennas. Instead, fractal-based antennas will be buried inside the handset. Wires and circuits that trace a complex fractal design provide a bigger receiving surface than current "wand" antennas yet occupy no more space than a 35mm slide. Cohen says the company he helped found in 1995, Fractal Antenna Systems Inc., in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will begin shipping in volume "right after Labor Day."
While getting rid of today's awkward wand antenna is the main benefit of his fractal designs, Cohen says there's an economic advantage as well: "For volume orders, our prices are substantially below conventional antennas," which usually cost $1 to $2 each.By Otis Port EDITED BY CATHERINE ARNSTReturn to top