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Mechanical Engineering. 2012;134(11):26-31. doi:10.1115/1.2012-NOV-1.

This article reviews various innovations in the nanotechnology and different challenges posed by the application of nanomaterials. The possible applications of nanomaterials include solar cells, batteries, lighting, and the electronic backplanes used in touch screen displays. Nanotechnology has begun to cut an equally wide band in products. These range from downhole drilling and solar energy to photonic circuits and drug delivery. The future may sound grand; however, producing usable forms of the most basic commercial products, such as nanoscale particles, has proven a long, hard task. Safety has become a major hurdle for all nanomaterials. Due to their small size, nanoparticles could easily go airborne and slip through protective clothing, skin, and tissue membranes, or interact with animals and plants in the environment. Nanomaterials have achieved a degree of commercial success in coatings. Nanomaterials have already begun to penetrate the market. In addition to oil and gas components, nanostructured coatings find application in industrial wear parts.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2012;134(11):32-37. doi:10.1115/1.2012-NOV-2.

This article reviews the research and development of automated connected vehicles that aim to reduce road accidents, money, fuel, and conserve environment. Major automotive companies have added automated functions to their vehicles, and various driver assistance systems—adaptive cruise control, video-based lane analysis, and steering and braking assistance—are currently available on high-end models. Automated systems can assess some traffic situations faster than humans can. As a result, automated driving is expected to significantly reduce accidents and traffic fatalities, improve traffic flow and highway capacity, achieve better fuel efficiency, and reduce emissions. However, on the way towards fully automated driving, many challenges need to be addressed. There are technology issues, including reliability, and non-technical issues of cost, regulation, and legislation. In order to accelerate the development of fully automated connected vehicles, there is a need for a cooperative approach. A practical evolutionary roadmap can be developed by an interdisciplinary panel of experts representing major car companies, government agencies, research centers, and academia.

Topics: Vehicles , Traffic , Highways
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2012;134(11):38-39. doi:10.1115/1.2012-NOV-3.

This article focuses on changes that are required to close the gap between engineering schools and industry. The ASME task force that was originated in 2008 initially set out to define the engineering knowledge and communication skills that mechanical engineering (ME) graduates should have if their employers are to be globally competitive. This resulted in the Vision 2030 report, which was recently released worldwide. A survey has revealed that young engineers and their professors saw themselves much better prepared than their managers did. Experts believe that ASME and its industry leaders can play vital roles by initiating faculty-industry exchanges, by endowing practice-based faculty chairs, by pressing for better faculty-student ratios, and by seeking out new faculty candidates with more industry experience. The successful implementation of a broader ME curriculum, with a tighter focus on professional skills, will produce savvier, more well-rounded, and more professional graduates. The Vision 2030 Task Force predicts that these graduates will always be thinking about the world’s grandest, and most daunting, challenges.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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