Core Curriculum

Biotechnology

BIOTECHNOLOGY & BIOINFORMATICS

This track covers the exponential growth in biotechnology and bioinformatics, focusing on four areas: (1) genome technologies (genomics and proteomics, ultra-rapid, low-cost gene sequencing, and statistical and computational extrapolations of large biological databases); 2) Personalized medicine (4P medicine: personalized, predictive, preventative, participatory; high- speed, full-genome, consumer-based sequencing; personal SNP analysis and ethics); (3) Intelligent design (ultra-rapid, low-cost DNA writing, selective gene manipulation/substitution, ethics of germline modification, RNA interference); and (4) Microfluidics and single-molecule technologies.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENTAL SYSTEMS

This track will cover future breakthroughs in renewable energy production, including solar, wind, ocean, geothermal, biological, and nuclear; grid 2.0 & transmission systems, energy storage technology & systems, including fuel cells; efficient transportation systems; energy conservation & efficiency, and energy for the developing world; Earth as an environmental system, including sensors and monitoring; climate models and strategies; global carbon and nitrogen cycles; regional and global risks – prevention and mitigation strategies; the environment and Grand Challenges, including food and water security, waste management and recycling, and environmental contamination and clean-up.
Energy
Networks & Computing

NETWORKS & COMPUTING SYSTEMS

Exponential growth in computing is a fundamental enabler of the changing technologies studied at SU. The NCS track draws upon the resources of Silicon Valley, nexus of multiple computer revolutions, to understand these key areas: We'll seek to understand some of the technologies that will drive Moore's law forward, such as molecular computing, 3D circuitry, photonics, DNA/computing, spin storage, memristers, quantum computing, nano computers and more. We'll also study the barriers including the difficulty of parallelization, energy consumption and reversible computing, computability and scalability to learn the future capabilities of our devices and computational environment. We'll learn about quantum computing, which has the potential to change our ideas about what is computable and how computer security works. We'll study how people will interact with computers and devices, exploring 3D interfaces, virtual worlds, augmented reality, haptic interfaces and AI agents. The course will examine the future of networks and new directions for the internet and its successors such as a semantic web, ubiquitous networking and sensing, cloud computing, interplanetary networking, mesh networks, “smart dust” and the “internet of things.” We'll study how computers connect people and data, exploring social networking, gaming, media and computing, and the implications of a deeply connected world of constant communcation between people, devices, and the building blocks of our cities and infrastructure. As we base our world on these technologies, we'll consider the depth of the problems faced in securing them, and in protecting civil rights and privacy in such a data-driven world. We'll consider the implications of data flowing everywhere, and the data deluge in science and society.

AI & ROBOTICS

This track focuses on intelligent machines. The main topics are: Introduction to intelligent machines: perception, actions, representation, reasoning, learning, dealing with uncertainty. AI technology: efficient exploration of state space, planning, logical inference, probabilistic inference, representation languages, machine learning, and language understanding. Alternative approaches for producing artificial general intelligence (AGI) or strong AI. Robotics technology: hardware systems (sensors, manipulators), mobility, localization and mapping, human-robot interactions, multi-agent systems, autonomous vehicles, scaling to micro- and nano-machines. Applications in home, transportation, medicine, security, internet, entertainment, space, and other areas. Future directions: technology trends, solving the hard problems. AI ethics, potential for runaway AI, friendly vs. unfriendly AI. Uncertainties concerning when computers will match various capabilities of the human brain.
Medicine and Neuroscience

MEDICINE & NEUROSCIENCE

This track will explore the future of biomedicine, neuroscience, and human enhancement and its impacts on human health and performance in six areas: Stem cells and regenerative medicine: the emerging ability to repair, replace and regenerate damaged, aged, or diseased tissues utilizing cell therapies, therapeutic cloning, pluripotent stem cells, tissue engineering, biomaterials and artificial organs. Targeted therapies, including minimally invasive medical devices, robotic surgery, designer drugs, identification and targeting of cancer stem cells. Medical diagnostics and imaging: increasingly powerful and rapid imaging modalities, point- of-care medical diagnostics, nanomedicine and biomarker technology. Neuroscience: neuroprosthetics (artificial retina, cochlear implants, brain- computer interfaces, deep brain stimulation), neuroplasticity, and direct fMRI functional brain imaging/scanning. Wellness: preventative drugs, supplements/antioxidants/diet, proactive regimens, Internet- based medical informatics, and telemedicine. Human enhancement: exoskeletons, robotic limbs, neuroenhancing pharmacological agents, gene therapy, and anti-aging strategies.

NANOTECHNOLOGY & DIGITAL FABRICATION

1. Fundamental scaling laws and their limits. 2. The nature of atomically precise structures and computational chemistry. 3. Current and proposed manufacturing technologies including: lithography, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), self assembly and positional assembly, DNA nanotechnology, nanomaterials, Scanning Probe Microscopy, mechanosynthesis, molecular positional devices, self replicating systems, molecular nanotechnology (MNT) and nanofactories. 4. Molecular computing, molecular logic elements, carbon nanotube electronics and thermal limits in computing. 5. Medical nanorobotics and nanomedicine. 6. The impact of nanotechnology on space, energy production and storage, national security, green manufacturing, environmental remediation and other areas.
Nanotechnology