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.

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

Keep Reading Show less

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet