Studying these cells could lead to new treatments for diseases ranging from gastrointestinal disease to diabetes.
Forty high-school women and six science teachers learned about the physics and design of the hand-held vacuum, then built and tested their own motors in an MIT class led by Associate Professor Steven Leeb of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).
The course, dubbed "Dustbusting by Design: Applying the Engineering Design Process," brought together participants in two MIT summer programs.
The Women's Technology Program is a four-week summer residence program designed to introduce women high-school students to the fields of electrical engineering and computer science. Participants are selected from a nationwide applicant pool of outstanding female high-school juniors.
The program is sponsored by EECS and the School of Engineering at MIT.
The Science Teachers Enrichment Program (STEP) brings middle- and high-school science teachers to the campus for a weeklong program focused on materials science and engineering and on the engineering design process. Among other things, STEP helps teachers create classroom modules on engineering that comply with state learning standards.
STEP is run by MIT's Center for Materials Science and Engineering, part of a nationwide network of Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers funded by the National Science Foundation.