Innovation: airbag for cyclists

From the Harvard Gazette

Ethan Seder, S.B. ‘22, mechanical engineering

What did you do for your project?

For my thesis, I built an airbag for commuter cyclists that deploys from a backpack in the event of an accident. The device contains three subsystems: electronics and an algorithm used for accident detection, a mechanical gas release mechanism to inflate the airbag, and an expandable textile airbag deployed to protect the upper torso of the user. During testing, the device was able to reduce impact force by 94%.

Where’d your project idea come from?

During my gap year from school in 2020-2021, I got into a bike accident and realized how shocking it is that the only safety solution available to cyclists is the helmet. The helmet has limited energy absorption and leaves the upper body of the cyclist unprotected. The goal of my thesis was to build an elegant solution that protects the upper torso of cyclists, while integrating into a backpack that is already carried by commuter cyclists.

What real-world challenge does this project address?

Every year there are roughly 1000 fatal bike accidents and 50,000 bike-related injuries in the U.S. alone. The lack of adequate safety equipment is to blame, and my project aims to solve this unmet need. My backpack, which retains its normal functions, is able to reduce the severity of injuries sustained by cyclists.

Ethan Seder’s airbag uses electronics and a mechanical gas release system to deploy within 200 milliseconds of an accident. (Credit: Ethan Seder)

— Read it


European academic revue launches issue about regulation and competition in Brazil

New publication about Regulation and competition in Brazil.

While Everyone Is Distracted By Social Media, Successful People Double Down On An Underrated Skill

Right now, somewhere out in the world is a paragraph, chapter, or book that would change your life forever if you read it. I call this kind of information “breakthrough knowledge,” and mastering the…
— À lire sur

Career negotiations for women


Brexit? Business optimism reigns, according to a study

The Brexit negotiations have started and a lot is at stake. According to a FTI Consulting study business leaders in the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain are rather optimistic about Brexit’s consequences. Surprised?

Some highlights

  • Just under 90% of the 2,500 senior executives of large companies surveyed by the firm expect stable or rising turnover in the first year following the UK’s departure from the EU in March 2019.
  • Three-quarters of them want clarifications before June 2018, a crucial deadline for planning “irreversible changes” in company’s strategy.
  • Two-thirds of British businesses believe that the United Kingdom will keep free of customs duties for goods, 59% that free circulation will remain in place and 52% that the European Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) will keep its authority.

Not so optimist after all

  • Businesses are a little less optimistic about the future of the British “financial passport”: 71% of British financial companies think it will be maintained, but only 59% in Germany, 56% in Spain and 51% in France.

A strategic path ahead

The EU and the UK began their discussion in February on a transitional period of about 20 months. Both sides hope to complete this part of the negotiations by March, before talking about the future relationship, especially commercial.

The United Kingdom has already announced its intention to leave the single market and the Customs Union after Brexit. The EU has made indivisible respect for the four freedoms of movement (goods and services, people, capital) one of its subjects of concern.

The survey and the source

The survey was conducted on the internet between 4 and 19 December 2017, and collected 2,568 responses from senior officials in large companies in the United Kingdom (642), Germany (632), France (646) and Spain. (648). Source: Capital

Some questions for debate

  • At the end of the day, what will change for companies?
  • Would this change the balance of power in the EU?
  • Is there a visa to travel or work in the UK?
  • What consequences for students?
  • Will English remain the working language of the EU if the UK comes out?
  • What would become of EU-funded programs in the UK? Would the subsidies stop?
  • What free trade agreement could the United Kingdom negotiate?

Making a home sustainable: the HouseZero project for ultra-healthy, flexible, comfortable indoors

Professor Malkawi will talk about the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities HouseZero project, which aims to retrofit of its headquarters, a pre-1940s stick-built house on Harvard campus in Cambridge, into a prototype of ultra-efficiency. The structure will use no HVAC system, no electric light use during the day, 100% natural ventilation, almost zero energy, and produce zero carbon emissions.

HouseZero will feature an ultra-healthy, flexible, comfortable indoors that works to fundamentally redefine how a home connects with and responds to its natural environment to promote health and efficiency. All components of the building contain sensors that essentially turn HouseZero into a living lab, generating data that will allow the building to adjust itself and fuel further CGBC research focused on actual data and simulated environments.

The challenge is to retrofit existing houses to gain sustainability, more ecological, cost effective, and higher efficiency. Malkawi uses existing technologies with a new design approach to construct and operate buildings. He expects not only to implement sustainable practices but he advocates that this can lead to billion of dollars in savings per year.


DATE: Monday, July 10, 2017


Amphithéâtre Urbain,

Ecole Supérieure de Chimie et Physique Industrielle

10 rue Vauquelin, 75005 Paris


TIME: 19:30 – 21:00


HCF 2017 members, non-members, guests:  10 euros

PSL staff, students and guests: 10 euros

This is joint event HCF and Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL) event.

How efficient is the French education system?

Presented at the Economic Intelligence workshop, this slide of the evolution of the Graduate education system in France gives as a clue of the complexity of the French education system. Is it efficient?


Is innovation controlled by …?

Regulation? Big corporations? Android and iOS? 

This is an interesting question raised at the OECD Forum

OECD forum 2017: 3 (strategic) photos 

First let me say: The food is French, the cleaning is japonese, the language is English. 

But there are other countries marketing their image pretty well. 

Colombian coffee: 

Australian booth:

Danish way of life

And yes, I had some fun exploring globalization 🙂

Resilience is the word of the day at the Rockefeller Foundation

According to Strategy+Business, Rodin has adopted the concept of resilience as a core focus of the Rockefeller Foundation. She is deploying the philanthropic organization’s US$4.2 billion in assets to promote and develop the resilience of cities and organizations, preparing for crisis situations and promoting inclusive economies.

In a world of change and conflict “the capacity of any entity…to prepare for disruptions, to recover from shocks and stresses, and to adapt and grow from a disruptive experience” becomes even more important.  

judith rodin picture

Judith Rodin talks about the power of resilience in her book  ,The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong (PublicAffairs, 2014).  She has served as the president of the Rockefeller Foundation since 2005.

Rodin’s required readings can be checked out at: 

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