Heron Institute of Applied Technology
Image from Steve Bowers
Techworld, Djed Plexus
TechWorld, von Karmann System (HIP 90969, Djed Plexus of MPA, 154ly from Sol).

The Heron Institute of Applied Technology, named after the famous Greek engineer from Alexandria, Egypt in around 2170 BT (200 b.c.e.) was founded by the superbright engineer and project manager James Prakash Napoleon Vitalyevitsch Tscherbaschov in 2816 AT.

Tscherbaschov was born as son of Vitaly Clyde Tscherbaschov, transmission protocol safety specialist, and Natalie Christine Nsengba, editor of a popular nanotech magazine in 2625 AT on Djed. At age 17 the superior received a massive nanotech augmentation by an Extreme Connectivity Inc. Conjunctor system. In addition to being the fastest DNI available for his nervous system (tweaked to the max for an organic system in a nearbaseline skull) the Conjunctor also contained an extremely fast numerical module and database, that allowed Tscherbaschov to calculate even massive structures "in his head". After being taught by a Feynman expert system, he specialized in plasma physics and took part in the invention of the TNG (Tscherbaschov-Nmutembe-Gustavson) micromagnet-needle array used to influence planetary and stellar magnetospheres. In 4778 AT he finished the Himmelsschmiede (sky forge) DWIZ after just 42 standard years of construction work. The fact that he had managed to develop the hardware and plans to put 19 sun masses of matter to a good use over the next seven millennia (including about 227,000 sun powers of energy for the entire time span) made the local Archailects very fond of him and thus his greatest wish was granted: the foundation of an Academy for the sole purpose of teaching and researching technology with its applications. He also instituted the still existing requirement of 50 years of practical work experience for every teacher.

The HIAT is located on the planet TechWorld in a star system renamed after his favourite aerodynamicist, Theodor von Karmann and covers about 1100 square kilometers of ground (most of it experimental sites and storage areas) plus dozens of orbital installations and facilities on diverse moons, planets and in the two asteroid belts of the system. The average surface temperature of the planet is around 255K and the 61% of land mass are covered mostly with sturdy trees. About half of the needed food is grown and bred in giant greenhouses, thus countering the cliche of the engineer not caring what type of "organic fuel" he/she/e takes in.

Its strict policy of seeing engineering as the tool to achieve a result other than "being aesthetically pleasing" or "making people feel better" gave the Institute a bad reputation among most of the MPA artist-engineers. These are however easily offset by its success elsewhere in the Terragen Sphere. Most of the Alliance's nanoassembler programmers, computronium developers, material experts (materials science is seen as the foundation of all other types of engineering, so it gets a greater deal of attention at Heron Institute than anywhere else, often resulting in superior results and costs), terraforming specialists, stellar engineers, ship and habitat constructors and energy handlers receive at least parts of their education on the Geek Planet.

The student body and staff are mixed crowds, although pretty much everyone is at least superbright. Nearbaselines, tweaks, splices and rianths make up only about 42% of the student body. Provolves such as Bitenic Squid (which seem to get along with the Nerds way better than with any sophont and are perfectly suited for space work with their vacuum-resistant skins, internal oxygen storage lasting hours, eight agile arms and logical minds) or NeoDolphins are extremely common and there are specially designed interaction booths where species from different environments can interact without protective gears. Virtuals are very rare, because they have a hard time accepting the spirit of materialism and physically feeling and influencing things, unlike the large group of vecs. However a large amount of transapient AIs ranging from the first to the third toposophic request admission due to the reputation of the Institute and either bring their own hardware (very often mobile systems to be able to go to experimental halls and the infamous student pranks with their co-students) or run on the available computronium banks.

Admission is only based on the ability to think like a real engineer (graded accordingly to the hardware/wetware capabilities of the applicant) and the will to put purpose on top of the design requirements. The only fees are rent and meal costs (or the equivalent) and even these can be waived if the student is admitted but cannot afford it. Graduates are required to pay a certain percentage of their income to the Institute to pay for its research and teachings. In addition to that yearly reports of experience and current activities have to be filed with the main memory banks since 50 years after graduation. If the senate, elected every five local years (each about 1.1 standard years) by the academic staff, sees need for these experiences the graduate has to teach for 2-5 years without being paid. These beings are usually wealthy enough to afford this and being selected as teacher is seen as a great honour among the graduates. All of them proudly carry the ring (or other appropriate piece of jewellery) bearing the crest of the university and made unforgeable by special quantum encrypted transmitters, that cause a glowing blue arc when two authentic crests are brought close together.

Crest/Logo: an atomic symbol with the three intersecting ovals. In the center there is a sun and in the six outer fields are six tools of the engineer starting from the upper right and going clockwise:

1. The good old swiss pocket knife. Irreplaceable even today.
2. The nanoassembler, stylised as a cube with foldable robotic arms protruding from its sides.
3. Two crossed test tubes.
4. The double helix of the gengineer (another important subject at the HIAT).
5. Ye good ole buckyball.
6. A stylised V2 type space ship.

Appears in Topics
Development Notes
Text by Martin Andreas Cieslik
Initially published on 22 January 2003.