The best engineering of 2014

A prosthetic hand grasps an orange.

8 January 2015


2014 was an amazing year for engineering: from comet landings to prosthetic limbs, engineers pushed the boundaries of innovation in all fields. If your memory is a bit hazy from the holiday festivities, we have just what you need: a round-up of the best engineering of 2014.

January Researchers at Nanjing Medical University created the world's first 'custom' monkeys through genetic engineering. The novel DNA manipulation will enable advances in the research and prevention of human genetic disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Read more.

February The first prosthetic hand with a sense of touch was developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. The robotic hand delivers feedback directly to the nerves in the arm – a groundbreaking step in prosthetics. Read more.

March Researchers at Draper laboratory created a biodegradable battery that can be used for medical implants inside the body. The battery fully dissolves after three weeks and could be used to monitor tissues and deliver treatments before being absorbed by the body. Read more.

April Stanford bioengineers took the human brain as an inspiration for designing superfast, energy-efficient microchips. They are 9000 times faster than a typical PC – not bad! Read more.

May Researchers at the MIT/Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics created the first realistic “virtual universe”, using a computer simulation called Illustris. It recreates 13 billion years of cosmic evolution, with 12 billion 3D pixels to simulate both normal and dark matter. Read more.

June Scientists from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) developed a robot that runs on a treadmill at a speed of up to 46 kilometres per hour.

July Self-cooling solar cells that are more energy-efficient and long-lasting were developed by a team of engineers at Stanford University. This was done by adding a layer of silica glass on the solar cell surface. Read more.

August Recently, Origami has been a strong inspiration for engineering designs. In August, researchers at Harvard developed a robot that pops up, unfolds and springs to life: a real-life transformer! Read more.

September A sports car running on salt water, using the innovative nanoFLOWECELL system to power four electric motors, has been approved for testing on European roads. The car, shown at the first time at the Geneva Motor Show, has a range of 600 km. Read more.

October 2013 QEPrize winner Marc Andreessen and his wife Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen donated $500,000, largely funded by his prize winnings, to three non-profit organisations that promote diversity in tech: Code2040, Girls who Code and Hack the Hood. Read more.

November The Philae probe landed on Comet 67P in November. The probe had been dropped from the Rosetta satellite and detected organic molecules on the surface of the comet. Read more.

December We couldn't have an end of year review without mentioning 3D printing. In December, 3D printers were used to make LEDs for the first time, an important step towards printing electric circuits. Read more.

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