Engineers at Princeton are working to solve some of our most critical challenges, from reducing dependence on fossil fuels to making the Internet more secure to working at the intersection of biology and technology to combat disease.
Teaching and Learning
During a sunrise run in China’s remote Gansu Province last summer, Sam Rasmussen ’19 felt he was traveling back in time to China as it looked decades ago. He jogged on unpaved roads through desert terrain, past homes made of adobe and farmers working in their fields. When he needed a pit stop, a farmer led Rasmussen behind his house to a concrete slab over two holes in the ground.
It was a stark contrast to the bustling city of Beijing, where he had spent most of the previous four weeks. “It’s so busy and chaotic in Beijing. I love the energy,” said Rasmussen. “But it was amazing to go out to these rural regions and meet people who live entirely differently.”
Computer science powers the work of many disciplines. If a molecular biologist needs to match up millions of pairs of genes, or a humanist wants to mine databases to understand the evolution of English prose, computers make it possible. Princeton’s computer science department, part of the University’s renowned engineering school, is distinguished by its deep expertise in both the theoretical foundations of computing and the many applications of computing in modern life.
NANYUKI, Kenya — Princeton University graduate student Tyler Coverdale and Ryan O'Connell of the Class of 2017 clap as they walk around the tall bushes surrounding the sprawling experiment site. Not in applause, or for self-motivation — but to alert any buffalo, elephants or other animals that might be foraging for food or seeking shade from the intense equatorial sun. This is the nature of working at the Mpala Research Centre, a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional field laboratory that sits on a 50,000-acre reserve and ranch in Laikipia County in central Kenya.
Inspired by the desire to help broaden boundaries for vision-impaired people, three Princeton University students created an armband device that allows a wearer without the ability to see to interpret color. The project emerged from a new class offered for the first time this spring, "Transformations in Engineering and the Arts," and lived up to the name of the course.
Digital technology has become essential for personal communication, getting the news, banking, shopping, and countless routine transactions. As our reliance on technological devices grows, however, pressing questions emerge: How do we define privacy online? Who has access to our data—and how will they use it? How do we prevent cyber attacks?
In his four decades on the Princeton faculty, Ted Taylor earned the admiration of his students and colleagues for his cheerful nature and commitment to rigorous research. Even in retirement, he has continued to support and shape new generations of scientists by establishing the Edward and Virginia Taylor Professorship in Bioorganic Chemistry and the Edward C. Taylor Fellowships for third-year graduate students in chemistry. The fellowships allow Princeton to fund students for three years—a rarity in higher education—freeing them from the need to tie their research interests to grant support.
Humanists traditionally have spent long hours in archives poring through books, letters, and ephemera, laboriously piecing together information. Today, digital technology has streamlined and galvanized this process. Now scholars can not only quickly access and preserve different kinds of information but also identify connections among their discoveries, creating new data for scholars around the world.