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"Every Little Thing They Do Is Magic"

"Every Little Thing They Do Is Magic"

Microscopic switches grow smaller, smarter, swifter
Binghamton University Magazine, Fall 2009

Professor Mohammad Younis is a mechanical engineer and an expert on microelectro-mechanical systems, commonly referred to by their much simpler acronym, MEMS. Essential components of high-definition TVs, cell phones, ink-jet printers and automobile airbags, these devices are remarkable for their size. Most are no bigger than a grain of salt.

When Binghamton University hired Jim Smith to write a profile of Younis for the university’s magazine, that was the fact Jim quickly zeroed in on. “The readers of university magazines are smart people,” says Jim, “but many did not study science. My job is to make complex technology understandable and relevant, so that readers can understand how important it is and what it says about the university to have prominent researchers like Mohammad Younis on the faculty.”

Jim’s profile began with an engaging anecdote about the day Younis received an array of microbeams that were essential components of the revolutionary electric switch he was building. The lead concluded by revealing that the microbeams were about the size of a sesame seed.

“Many people seem to think they cannot understand science and technology,” says Jim, “but I don’t believe that’s true. I think that when you tell people an engrossing story they become engaged. And if understanding the science is essential to understanding the story, they will figure it out provided the story is interesting enough. So when I’m writing features about science and technology, I always look for the story first. What’s going to pique my reader’s interest and drawn him or her in? Then I figure out how to make the science understandable within the story.”   

Click on the link at left to read "Every Little Thing They Do is Magic" on the Binghamton magazine website.

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