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June 2021
IN THIS ISSUE: Big Ideas finalists, Infant Warmer, prize-winning PET recycling ++
2021 Big Ideas finalists and initial award-winning teams announced
Fifteen student-led teams from nine UC campuses have been recognized for outstanding creativity, innovation, and potential for social impact. Yaw Ansong, Song Kim, and Tim Adamson (L to R above), created KovaDx, an AI-based diagnostic for sickle cell disease, and are one of six teams invited to take part in the Big Ideas Grand Prize Pitch on September 23 to vie for top honors.
> Read about all 15 award-winning projects
Lemelson-MIT awards PET recycling inventor, DevEng student Paige Balcom
Fourth-year DevEng doctoral student Paige Balcom (second from left above, with L to R co-founder Peter Okwoko and engineers 
Patrick Masembe and Jacob Wokorach) won the prestigious “Use It!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for recycling polyethylene terephthalate (PET) waste, a common plastic used in everyday goods like water bottles, into useful goods with her Takataka Plastics team in Gulu, Uganda.
> Read more
Watch Lemelson-MIT award video
Student teams partner with DoD to improve disaster response
The FireFly augmented reality helmet (pictured above) is designed to seamlessly connect to a mesh network of drones to provide real-time navigational and situational data to firefighters actively working to suppress wildfires, according to one of six student teams in spring's “Innovation in Disaster Response, Recovery, and Resilience” course. The course is supported by the National Security Innovation Network in partnership with the Blum Center.  
> Read more
> Watch Firefly team video
Infant warmer proven effective and safe in reducing neonatal mortality
Berkeley Lab: Technology developed by DevEng faculty Ashok Gadgil and Berkeley Lab scientist Vi Rapp (Ph.D.’11 ME), shows a big drop in infant mortality in Rwanda hospitals. The Infant Warmer is a low-cost, convenient, re-usable, and non-electric wrap-around pad that maintains a temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 6 hours for a newborn infant. Gadgil and Rapp expected to see some effect on infant mortality, but were thrilled to see the threefold drop. “That was a huge and quite unexpected result,” said Gadgil.
> Read more
Biden's (remote) chance to make the rich pay their share
New York Times: About three in five Americans have expressed support for higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy to pay for infrastructure projects and climate action, according to a range of recent polls. “With great wealth comes political power, and the intricacies of the tax code are the place where that power is wielded most efficiently,” said Blum Board member Robert Reich, professor of public policy, and affiliated Blum faculty, in a NY Times interview.
Read more
In recovering economy, prices may tick up but inflation is not a problem
Los Angeles Times: “The question is not whether there will be some inflation this year, but whether it will represent ‘overheating’ of the economy as a whole. Most likely, it will not,” writes J. Bradford DeLong, a former deputy assistant U.S. Treasury secretary, Berkeley faculty, and the Blum Center’s chief economist in an economic forecast op-ed in the LA Times this spring.
> Read more

Development Engineering vs. Public Policy: Old Wine in a New Bottle?
Monday, June 21, 11:00 am PST
Join us for a conversation with Junaid Ahmad, World Bank country director for India. Ahmad will discuss development engineering and public policy with panelists from the Blum Center for Developing Economies: Faculty Director Shankar Sastry, Education Director Alice Agogino, and DevEng Faculty Ashok Gadgil and Amy Pickering. The discussion will be moderated by Raja Sengupta, professor of civil and environmental engineering.
> Register for this online event  

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