Engineering How to Save Lives: Creating Tools for a Better Emergency Response

This post is brought to you by the Air Force Collaboratory

What if your job entailed developing lifesaving technologies everyday? For 1st Lt. Michael Ysebaert, an Air Force engineer, working to saves lives is just another part of his day-to-day work at the Air Force Research Lab. He works to equip an elite team of highly-skilled Airmen called Pararescuemen (or PJs) who are trained to find and rescue people after disasters occur.

With a background in mechanical engineering, Ysebaert first decided to pursue a career in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field after discovering a love for working on cars in high school. “I enjoyed tearing into things, learning how each part worked, and building it back up better,” says Ysebaert. Also fascinated by physics, Ysebaert is able to do what he loves as part of the 711th Human Performance Wing on the battlefield air targeting man-aided knowledge (BATMAN) team.

Always working on several projects at once, Ysebaert and his teammates have regular meetings with industry leaders to learn about the latest and greatest gear. And to ensure they’re on the right track, they also often interact with Air Force Operators to ensure projects are aligning based on need. Ysebaert notes it’s a very collaborative environment. “We each have our roles, but it’s common to bring in another teammate to bounce ideas off of. That’s how ideas materialize—team collaboration.”

One project Ysebaert has worked on is the portable litter device. In layman terms, a litter is akin to a human-sized basket to transport the injured. It’s used to carry and evacuate critical patients in emergency or disaster situations, usually via helicopter. Ysebaert and his team worked to reduce the weight so it’d be lighter and more efficient for PJs to carry in the field. “We’re reducing the burden of the operator by improving how the patient is transported,” says Ysebaert.

Ysebaert has also worked on designing a fast rope descent device. The goal of the new rope design is to prevent rope burns and reduce the transition time for PJs from fast rope mode to on-the-ground operational mode.

And when it comes to devising improved functionality, he isn’t just creating innovative technologies in a lab—he’s using them, too. To create a prototype of the rope, Ysebaert and his team used CAD software to create a model and then created a 3D printed mold, which they used to manufacture their own prototypes in-house.

Last year, Ysebaert had the opportunity to attend a training course for PJs and work alongside the very individuals he’s creating tools for. He says, “It ended up being an awesome environment to learn more about the broad PJ mission and capability.” As an engineer, learning of the missions was crucial. As Ysebaert notes it helps to ensure he designs equipment that will enhance the PJs capabilities and “not just look good on a shelf.”

The collaboration even brought about suggestions from the PJs themselves. “After discussing our objectives, one PJ presented a brilliant solution for the fast rope descent device that we’re pursuing further,” says Ysebaert. This showcases an important point Ysebaert makes about working in a STEM field: leaders need both communication skills and problem solving skills. “Without good communication skills, you’ll be presenting end users a fork when they really needed a spoon.”

If you want to put your STEM skills to the test, check out The Air Force Collaboratory here.

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

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"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

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We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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