Technology Today Podcast launched in November 2018, offering a new way to listen and learn about the technology, science, engineering and research impacting our lives and changing our world. The podcast is presented by Southwest Research Institute, a nonprofit contract R&D organization developing innovative solutions for government and industry clients. Podcast host Lisa Peña is breaking through the tech jargon and talking to the scientists, engineers and researchers building the future of technology. It’s a conversation bringing tech to life and helping us understand how technology, science, engineering and research link to our daily lives.
Episode 24: Cybersecurity Awareness
How cyber secure are you? Laptops, smart phones, tablets and anything connected to the internet should be protected against hackers. While cybersecurity may seem daunting, there are simple solutions to guard your online presence and keep your information safe. With strong passwords, encryption and being selective about the information you share, there’s more in your control than you might think. Plus, SwRI engineers are developing technology to safeguard connected vehicles.
Listen now as SwRI cybersecurity expert Victor Murray discusses cybersecurity best practices and how SwRI is taking down tech troublemakers.
Episode 23: OSIRIS-REx and Bennu
What can an asteroid tell us about life on Earth? How can its orbit predict an asteroid strike on our planet? NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission is searching for answers as it studies the asteroid Bennu. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft launched in 2016 and arrived near the asteroid in 2018. Since then, it has been mapping and surveying Bennu. Now, the mission team is preparing for a big moment, touching the asteroid surface and collecting a sample to return to Earth. Described as a time capsule of the earliest history of our solar system, Bennu could hold valuable information on the origins of life.
Listen now as Mission Co-investigator and SwRI Space Scientist Dr. Vicky Hamilton discusses the discoveries of the OSIRIS-REx mission and the upcoming sample collection.
Episode 22: The Power of sCO2
The Supercritical Transformational Electric Power (STEP) pilot plant at SwRI will demonstrate a more efficient, cost effective, environmentally friendly method of producing power with supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2). One day, we could be using sCO2 technology to provide electricity to our homes and businesses. What happens when nontoxic, nonflammable sCO2 replaces water as the thermal medium in power cycles? What is sCO2 and what makes it a better way to power up?
Listen now as SwRI engineers Dr. Tim Allison and Dr. Aaron McClung discuss the advantages of supercritical carbon dioxide.
Episode 21: Examining Zero Emissions
SwRI Principal Engineer Dr. Graham Conway is sparking debate with his views on electric vehicles. Conway presented his ideas in a TEDx San Antonio talk, which now has thousands of views on YouTube. In this episode, he explains why he believes describing electric cars as “zero emissions” doesn’t tell the whole story. He urges listeners to examine where the electricity that powers battery-operated vehicles comes from. If the power source creates pollution, can the technology truly be considered zero emissions? Conway provides valuable insight for the environmentally aware driver.
Listen now as we hear a new perspective on electric vehicles.
Episode 20: Creating a Cleaner Diesel Engine
Vehicles our communities depend on, like big rigs, garbage trucks and buses, are equipped with heavy-duty engines that contribute to smog. Ultimately, that pollution leads to poor air quality and public health issues. SwRI engineers have developed a solution. Their near-zero emissions heavy-duty diesel engine drastically cuts down on harmful nitrogen oxides, while decreasing other pollutants. After years of research, SwRI engineer Chris Sharp and his team are ready to introduce a game-changing technology in heavy-duty transportation that could benefit human health.
Listen now as we learn about a cleaner way to hit the road.
Episode 19: Mask Materials Testing
COVID-19 has amped up the need for safe, effective masks. Manufacturers and health systems are getting creative, thinking of new ways to make or reuse face coverings. These new materials and materials that undergo tough sanitation methods require rigorous testing to ensure they can protect frontline health care workers. The SwRI particle emissions laboratory is well equipped for this challenge. Once used exclusively for engine emissions testing, the lab is now expanding its capabilities to test mask materials.
On this episode, we talk to the SwRI engineer leading the lab through this crucial effort. He tells us why his team is doing this work as a community service, at no charge. Plus, he shares what makes a mask effective.
Listen now as we share the science behind mask safety.