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Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(02):24-27. doi:10.1115/1.2009-FEB-1.
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This article discusses companies are making connections to enrich and accelerate the product development. Procter & Gamble (P&G) has more than 300 brands, most of them recognized worldwide, under which it sells products ranging from pet food and laundry detergent to prescription drugs and cosmetics. It is not surprising that the invitation is extended through a Web site, www.pgconnectdevelop.com. The idea of making business-to-business contact over the Internet is not unique to this Web site. Yet2.com (http://www.yet2.com) founded in 1999 by a consortium of P&G, DuPont, Bayer, Honeywell, Caterpillar, Siemens and NTT Leason, offers services that bring buyers and sellers of technology together, enabling participants to maximize the financial return on their intellectual assets. Open innovation creates the opportunity for engineers to engage in a broader range of activities and assume new responsibilities. For open innovation to succeed, engineers need to overcome the "not invented here" mindset and both welcome and use ideas from outside their own organization.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(02):28-33. doi:10.1115/1.2009-FEB-2.
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This paper focuses on Training within Industry (TWI) that provides a strong foundation for a lean culture. Many manufacturing companies incorporate Lean Manufacturing initiatives to streamline their business procedures. One of the best known is Kaizen, the Japanese word for “continuous improvement.” It is based on short term, focused projects to eliminate waste and improve processes. When integrated into a work environment, TWI can produce sustainable improvements in your operations, creating a strong foundation that can keep your business productive and vital even during today’s challenging economic climate. TWI consists of three key teachings: job instruction, job methods, and job relations. The TWI process provides employees with an opportunity to become certified trainers in each of the three teachings. TWI can teach an entire organization to look at challenges not as problems, but as opportunities for innovation. This tool of the Lean Manufacturing toolbox can serve as the foundation your organization needs to stay competitive and vital for years to come.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(02):32-34. doi:10.1115/1.2009-FEB-3.
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This report highlights that nearly every mechanical engineer confronts the question of whether to move into management, and every manager is faced with selecting a new manager from the ranks of the engineering staff. By most accounts, this selection process is at best hit-and-miss, with as many new engineering managers succeeding as failing. One myth states that because you are doing such a good job as a mechanical engineer, you can obviously manage other mechanical engineers doing tasks similar to yours. Another myth states that if you learn a few basic “concrete skills” like Microsoft Project, or how to conduct performance reviews, or how to develop schedules and budgets, or learn the corporate policies and procedures, then you can be a manager. There is also a belief that management ability will come to you if you spend time working with other managers in your organization. Once managers and potential management candidates understand the importance of people skills, self-awareness, and communication skills, the selection of the next management candidate is a process based upon training and the willingness of the candidate to venture into a new area of career development.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(02):35. doi:10.1115/1.2009-FEB-4.
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This article reviews a survey that is compiling hard data on engineering pay scales. The national average pay for an engineer in the United States last year was just under $95,000, according to a survey being conducted by ASME and two other professional societies. The income and salary survey is an open-ended poll that will gather information continually to keep abreast of compensation trends and to analyze them according to a range of demographic and geographic information. Pay scales vary among engineering disciplines, regions of the country, levels of experience, and other distinctions. The survey is creating a searchable database that will allow subscribers to identify patterns in engineers’ compensation according to a range of criteria. Full-time salaried median income shows an increase from smaller organizations to larger organizations, based on employee size. Individuals and companies can subscribe for online access to request custom reports from the database. A custom report enables users to select up to nine demographic and professional criteria for their income data analysis. Subscriptions are based on the number of report runs allowed and are tailored to both individual and corporate needs.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(02):36-37. doi:10.1115/1.2009-FEB-5.
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This review discusses that an effective relationship with a respectable supplier can be a considerable strategic asset to a business. It can reduce cost, improve quality, and increase production volumes. In an effective relationship, a supplier can be a valuable source of expertise, contacts, and ideas. An effective relationship is a two-way street, benefiting both buyer and supplier. As with most things, while there might not be a single best way to create a healthy supplier relationship, there is an infinite variety of ways to foster a bad relationship. Feedback from someone in the business can be very valuable, and changing a part design to fit a supplier’s processes can create value for seller and buyer. Knowledgeable, reputable suppliers provide expertise, and understand the strengths and limitations of their processes. A solid supplier network, like a well-trained staff, is a valuable asset. Also, exceptional suppliers, like exceptional employees, cost less in the long run, even if they do not cost the least up front.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(02):38-42. doi:10.1115/1.2009-FEB-6.
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This paper focuses on supercomputing that is more commonly associated with electrical rather than mechanical engineering. A vast range of mechanical engineering problems-issues of optimization, friction, turbulence, combustion, manufacturing processes, events at the molecular or atomic level, events that involve multiple physics phenomena, and processes that involve many orders of magnitude of space and time-require advanced computational resources to simulate them with high fidelity. Researching processes from the smallest practical level to the largest requires immense calculating resources. Companies, universities, and government agencies are building larger and faster computers to push research and analysis to new levels of complexity. If MEMS switches worked as advertised in civilian and military communications, not only could the radios and phones use less power and therefore be lighter and cheaper to manufacture and operate, but they could also function across a greater frequency range than they do now. Computational engineering and science are seen as a very important tool in moving forward with mechanical systems, design, and technology.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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