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Mechanical Engineering. 2010;132(10):22-25. doi:10.1115/1.2010-Oct-1.
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This chapter discusses research and engineering programs undertaken to study knees and machines to help ligament-graft patients get on their feet. At the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, researchers are investigating the biological mechanisms of how tendon heals to bone to ultimately influence rehabilitative protocols for the anterior fibula. The lab has been focusing on how mechanical loads placed on tendons affect the healing process by initiating biological signals. The current model involves studying rodents that have undergone anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction to examine the effect of mechanical loading on tendon biology. The team will develop empirical evidence that is expected to lead to future protocols for therapy—in short, to have people heal and return to their normal lives.. One therapy that has demonstrated some success in patients recovering from ACL surgery has been continuous passive motion (CPM). The clinical CPM design has been rendered in Solidworks. The lab built a device and is now testing it on cadaver rats before moving on to live subjects.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2010;132(10):26-30. doi:10.1115/1.2010-Oct-2.
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This chapter focuses on various aspects of therapeutic hypothermia. Scientists and researchers are exploring new applications and devices that seek to save vital organs, particularly hearts and brains, from undergoing excessive damage after a heart has stopped and been restarted. Research is under way to make cooling more efficient by concentrating o n a specific organ of interest. A medical company is working on an endovascular regional cooler for the heart. Funded by Small Business Innovative Research grants from the National Institutes of Health and by angel investment, the technology seeks to rapidly cool heart tissue during emergency angioplasty. FocalCool is developing a new guide catheter called CoolGuide. CoolGuide maintains the functionality of standard guide catheters, providing coronary artery access for devices like angioplasty catheters and stents, while also delivering targeted chilled blood to heart tissue at risk. Researchers believe that therapeutic hypothermia can also improve lives by saving seemingly tiny amounts of tissue at risk, enabling vital organs to continue working well. Therapeutic hypothermia is an exciting and evolving field of medical care.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2010;132(10):32-35. doi:10.1115/1.2010-Oct-3.
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This chapter reviews various research efforts to study animal group behaviors to boost bioengineering. The chapter also shows that understanding how a school of fish moves as one provides insights into controlling teams of autonomous robots. Unpowered robotic gliders can use simple rules to maintain their formation, even in choppy waters. Researchers have tried to use dynamical systems analysis to understand how the group makes the right decisions, how it uses feedback to correct poor decisions, and whether such rules would work with robots. Using analytic methods, teams looked at how the two informed groups of fish battled it out to lead the naive fish, which made up the vast majority of the school. Research has shown how sensitive group patterns can be to who is sensing whom. As soon as everyone starts sensing everyone else, the only stable solution is the whole group moving in a straight-line direction.

Topics: Robots , Feedback , Teams , Water , Robotics
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2010;132(10):38-40. doi:10.1115/1.2010-Oct-4.
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This chapter explores experiments conducted by different automotive engineering teams competing in the Automotive X Prize to design a car that can get 100 miles per gallon. The performance goals the X Prize Foundation laid out are so specific that they could have a positive effect on the entire high-efficiency segment of the automotive industry. Unlike a lot of the cars entered in the X Prize, the Tango is a production vehicle, though the runs are small. Tango is one of the heavier cars in the competition. It is also solidly built with a race car-style roll cage protecting the driver. The car, entered by Edison2 of Lynchburg, Va., is quite narrow, however, instead of tucking its wheels inside, the footprint mounted them on posts that extend away from the body, or fuselage. The vehicles had some performance standards to meet, and each one would be taken to Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois to undergo rigorous emissions testing. The biggest effect the Automotive X Prize competition may have is providing a new set of benchmarks for car designers to meet.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2010;132(10):42-46. doi:10.1115/1.2010-Oct-5.
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This chapter discusses the trade version that has been added as a revision to the Unwritten Laws of Engineering book. The trade version focuses on what the beginner needs to learn at once. Promises, schedules, and estimates are necessary and important instruments in a well-ordered business. Many engineers try to dodge making commitments. One must make promises based upon best estimates for the part of the job, together with estimates obtained from contributing departments. The chapter points out that a good project manager probably knows which engineers are pessimistic and which are optimistic and tries to work the middle way. In dealing with customers and outsiders, remember that one represent’s the company, ostensibly with full responsibility and authority. A good project manager knows which engineers are pessimistic and which are optimistic and tries to work the middle way out. The chapter also highlights that risk management activities should be scheduled into a project right from the start; however, issues must be squeezed into the schedule as they appear.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2010;132(10):48-52. doi:10.1115/1.2010-Oct-6.
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This chapter focuses on growing opportunities for engineers starting early in the professional field. The convergence of Baby Boomer demographics, rising demand for electricity, and the state of America’s electricity infrastructure are shaping up to create a major job market in the United States for early-career engineers. The convergence points to a need by the power industry to hire thousands of new engineers by 2030. Large investment numbers are cited for the nation’s transmission and distribution grid that links generators, motors, computers, light bulbs, and everything in between. The chapter also discusses various challenges such as high percentage of industry workers reaching retirement eligibility. Coupled with those retirement concerns is the industry-wide expectation that electricity demand nationally is expected to grow in spite of the economic slowdown. The power companies’ observations reveal different approaches to their engineering workforces. Some lean toward new engineering school graduates. One reason for the expectation of growth in the transmission and distribution businesses is the ongoing development of smart grid technology, which will permit embedded metering, automatic load redistribution, and ultimately time-of-day pricing.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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