Nanotech, biotech, energy, transportation, infrastructure and innovation stories from across upstate New York.

Fire-starting drones could keep ranchers safer during burn season

May 28, 2016
Ariana Brocious/Harvest Public Media

Every spring, farmers and ranchers intentionally burn their fields to jump-start the natural process of renewal. But those fires can be dangerous. That’s why researchers in Nebraska are designing a new drone to start fires that may help protect people and the environment.

On a warm spring morning, a big burn crew dressed in yellow and green flame-resistant clothing gets ready to set 26 acres of tallgrass prairie on fire at Homestead National Monument of America near Beatrice, Nebraska.

Mark Engler, park superintendent, said today’s prescribed burn is special. A team from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is trying out a new tool: a fire-starting drone.


An all-female car racing team from Rochester Institute of Technology finished third place in the electric category in its first global event. In early May, Hot Wheelz took part in the Formula Hybrid at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Hackathon teaches youths digital skills

May 16, 2016

Dozens of children boosted their digital skills this weekend during a “youth hackathon.”

The participants — some as young as 8 years old — turned out for the ROC Youth HackFest Powered by AT&T at iCanCode, a training school on Jefferson Road.  


The addicting effect of video games is one an avid gamer can certainly describe. Once the controller hits the tips of their fingers, they are transported into a world of challenge and excitement.

The pastime is often criticized and accused of contributing to inactivity, and sometimes for having a violent influence. Studies have shown, however, that gaming can actually provide therapeutic value.


David Swerzenski couldn't even read the first time his family brought him to the State Fair, but he was already doing his research. The fun outing quickly became exhausting for the adults, as the then-toddler asked a barrage of questions about the rides and how they actually worked. Little did David know he would one day get the opportunity to put his inquisitive nature to good use.