Architecture & Engineering

Amy Mayer/IPR

Drones are gaining in popularity as industries from farming to retail to insurance find ways the unmanned flying vehicles can help make businesses more profitable. At Iowa State University, a team of engineers is trying to get ahead of likely complaints about drone noise.

Anupam Sharma, an aerospace engineering professor at Iowa State, takes inspiration from owls to design noise-reduction strategies for airplanes and wind turbines because owls are naturally nearly-silent fliers. Drones challenge Sharma’s team to think on a scale closer to the size of an owl.

Photo by John Pemble

The golden dome of the historic Iowa State Capitol is succumbing to damage from the inside out, and scaffolding will soon envelop the structure as part of a $10 million restoration.  

The dome was regilded in 2005, but McCoy says the current problems weren't apparent during a prior restoration project. 

Des Moines Democrat Matt McCoy says moisture has seeped in and eroded the mortar.

“They are going to have to go up into the dome, with scaffolding all around the dome,” McCoy says, “and fix and repair the cupola on down.”

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

An unassuming laboratory in a basement corner room of the Black Engineering Building at Iowa State has a lofty goal: to make humans better at what they do. Researchers at the ATHENA Lab are working to improve human performance.

Julie Stevens

A student landscape architecture project at Iowa State University is being recognized by a national organization for working to make the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women a more humane and therapeutic environment.

The American Society of Landscape Architects has given the ISU project a Community Service Award of Excellence for creating outdoor classrooms using native Iowa limestone and prairie plants, and a decompression deck for staff at the women’s prison in Mitchellville.

Steven Semken / Ice Cube Press

Iowa City still has the mark of Howard Moffitt all over. His hobbit-like houses sit intermingled with more traditional houses in many Iowa City neighborhoods to this day.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Dr. Richard DeGowin, author of “House of Moffitt, The First 20 Years – a Memoir”.

One characteristic of the Moffitt houses is that Moffitt built them on the premise that they were to be rented out and bought by low-income tenants.

Early in the 20th century when women started to move into engineering careers, they were labeled as “invaders.”

Photo by John Pemble

A new play about one the country’s most influential Presidents will take place in a space only used by politicians.  “Lincoln’s Last Interview” only engagement is on the floor of the Iowa House in the State Capitol.  It’s being used as a stand in for the US House of Representatives.  The play is set on April 14th, 1865 where President Lincoln and his wife Mary give an interview to a reporter before leaving to see a play at Ford’s Theater.  

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

On a Saturday morning in Mason City, city officials give a group tour of eight homes once flooded in 2008, in the hopes that someone will come to buy one. and move it out of the floodplain.

It can cost thousands of dollars to pay a contractor to move a two-story, historic house, and turnout is minimal. But a handful of former residents show up to walk through their homes one last time.

Tito Perez

Name a famous person who appears regularly on NPR. His first name can be a noun or a verb, and his last name sounds like an article of clothing. Puzzlemaster Will Shortz joins Host Charity Nebbe to talk about how the New York Times crossword puzzle is put together and a little about his love of table tennis.  And hear about real-world problem solving with Invent Iowa, and one particular invention made by middle school girls in Council Bluffs.

Phil Roeder / Flickr

Does drinking coffee prevent dementia? Will diet soda give you cancer?  Science and health reporting is often misleading and confusing.

brewbooks / flickr

Mid-American Energy is planning to invest $1.9 billion in Iowa to add up to about one gigawatt of wind generation, which could power 300-thousand homes. That means more than 600 new wind turbines are expected to be built in Iowa by 2016.  Host Ben Kieffer gets details on the project, and he gets a broader look at wind energy in Iowa with both large- and small-scale turbines. We also talk with an ISU professor a grad student working on designing a different wind turbine tower—one made out of concrete.

dbelskysuny / flickr

For 25 years, CareerCast.com has ranked the best and worst jobs.   Their rating is based on physical demands, work environment, income, stress, and hiring outlook. Host Ben Kieffer talks with a few people that are on the best and worst lists.  Find out what people in those jobs think about their ranking.  It includes a Biomedical Engineer, an Oil Rig Worker, an Audiologist, and a Newspaper Reporter.   

Courtesy of Mary Rogers

The former Iowan who fathered one of the world’s most celebrated architects has been pulled from the shadows of his legendary son. The father was William Carey Wright, and Iowa Public Radio tells the story of his love for music and how it influenced the life of and career of his son, Frank Lloyd Wright.

KP Tripathi / Flickr

Last minute deal making on Capitol Hill may have helped avert the fiscal cliff for now, but many law makers are still divided over the measure. Ben Kieffer talks with political experts Tim Hagle and Bruce Nesmith about the fiscal measure and other recent political events.

Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

There’s always work to be done on the farm, but often it’s the same work day, after day, after day. Parts of the job must feel a bit like an assembly line.

While it’s impossible to automate farming like many manufacturers have automated their assembly lines, using robotic technology on the farm might not be so far off.

The biological and agricultural engineering robotics team at Kansas State University knows a thing or two about agricultural robots. They’ve won national robotics competitions in each of the last five years.

Saving a Sullivan?

Apr 18, 2012
Friends of Historic Preservation

In Cedar Rapids, there’s a fight to save an historic church some believe was designed by one of America’s greatest architects. But time is running out until the building is demolished…for a parking lot. Iowa Public Radio’s Kate Wells reports.

IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell joins Morning Edition Host Sarah McCammon for a preview of legislative news.