Here and There


OFF AND RUNNING

The "smart" shoes developed by an MIT undergraduate will be featured on Australian TV, complete with footage of the program's host running with a pair of the novel sneakers.

"He said the prototypes were very comfortable and that he could feel them working when he ran," said Ronald S. Demon, a senior in electrical engineering and computer science.

In addition, Mr. Demon's company, Vectra-Sense Technologies, advanced to the semifinal round of the MIT $50K business competition on March 10. The 39 semifinalists must submit a complete business plan by April 21; the winner will be chosen on May 5. Mr. Demon also was named Inventor of the Week by the Lemelson-MIT Awards Program on March 8.

Mr. Demon invented the shoes, which automatically adapt to the wearer's feet and pace of activity, when he was 16. The trick is sensors that regulate the flow of fluid from strategically placed bladders to adjust the shoe's cushion. Last year Mr. Demon earned US patent number 5,813,142 for the work.

After reading about Mr. Demon in an MIT News Office press release, the Australian TV program Beyond 2000 arranged a visit to meet the young inventor on March 4. The show is a half-hour weekly that's broadcast in more than 90 countries (it appears on the Discovery Channel in the United States). The segment featuring Mr. Demon's shoes will air late this year or early in 2000.

BLOOMIN' LUCK

The Endicott House grounds department is presenting an exhibit entitled Spring's Carousel at the New England Spring Flower Show at the Bayside Exposition Center, which runs through this Saturday. The theme of the show is Artistry in the Garden.

A 10-foot gazebo is the centerpiece of the 30-foot-in-diameter Endicott House display, designed by head groundskeeper Andy Turcotte and horticulturist Steve Wiswell (gardener Tom Willard and retirees John Resmini and Dick MacRelli also helped with the exhibit). Ten-foot gardens featuring tulips, narcissi, azaleas and hyacinths in a variety of colors surround the gazebo, interspersed with twin cherubs and a neo-Roman nude female near a small reflecting pool.

Four eight-foot-tall Victorian panels depicting musical instruments decorate the gazebo, along with a seven-foot sculpture of stems and leaves in copper, accented by dew drops of Swarovski crystal. A fountain of water runs through the leaves. Three versions of Handel's Water Music provide background music for the display via Fre�space 360 environmental speakers provided by Bose Corp.

Endicott House exhibited at the show last year for the first time. The 1998 display, which recreated an estate foyer and a formal garden, received a third-place ribbon.

A HERO AMONG US

Richard Williamson, honored by MIT with a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award last month, has also received a Heroes Among Us award from the Boston Celtics at the FleetCenter.

Mr. Williamson (SB 1985) was cited for his work with God's Posse, a group of about 25 former street gang members who have dedicated themselves to becoming productive and respected members of their community. Mr. Williamson and Chris Womack, co-founders of the group, received an engraved jade crystal trophy during a time-out in the Boston Celtics-Denver Nuggets game on March 5.

In addition to the trophy, Mr. Williamson and Mr. Womack posed for pictures with the captains of both teams and received a certificate from Celtic coach Rick Pitino. "As a committed and concerned member of our community, we extend our congratulations and our thanks," the autographed citation said. "As a 'Hero Among Us,' your decision to get involved, to bother, to care and to make a difference is truly inspiring. We hope that your social conscience is contagious and you continue to be a Hero Among Us."

"It was excellent," said Mr. Williamson. "It was a very good time, a very positive experience. It was the first time I've been to the FleetCenter and the first time I've seen a Celtic game."

So has Mr. Williamson become an avid Celtic fan?

"I'm a tennis player," he said.

A version of this
article appeared in the
March 17, 1999

issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume
43, Number
23).


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