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Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(08):24-25. doi:10.1115/1.2009-Aug-1.
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This article highlights about young engineers who want early performance feedback on how they are doing their jobs. One difference is that younger engineers believe the feedback should stream to them the same way other digitized information does: instantly and often. Managers are finding that tying performance reviews and job feedback to an in-house software system not only makes the younger engineers on their staff happy, but also drives the company's overall performance. Engineering managers looking to attract and retain young talent need to understand that the newest generation of employees—members of Generation Y—seek more feedback and direction than do their older counterparts. Managers at firms with talent management applications in place find they spend less on salaries, bonuses, and other financial incentives. Kennedy/Jenks has clearly defined corporate strategies that are used to drive employees’ goals. Employee, manager, and department goals all contribute toward achieving corporate objectives. In automating the performance management process, Kennedy/Jenks has been able to create a culture where the value of each individual’s performance is clearly understood.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(08):26-29. doi:10.1115/1.2009-Aug-2.
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This paper discusses that today product development is about teamwork and there are teachable skills to provide more influence to engineers in group decisions. Though engineers may prefer working alone, a significant quantity of a team’s work takes place in a group. The impact that each team member has in these group settings, and therefore on the member’s own career, has as much to do with how one interacts within the team as it does with one’s technical skills. The development of negotiation training courses for professionals working with technology began before the authors developed their course. Both advocacy and inquiry, when well-practiced, are powerful negotiation skills. When properly used, they foster an inclusive environment, illuminate choices, and steer the conversation toward valuable options. A successful negotiation maintains relationships by ensuring that all parties to the negotiation feel included in the process. As a result, the team is more invested in the result as well. This helps team morale, which in turn, helps the employer.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(08):30-31. doi:10.1115/1.2009-Aug-3.
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This article focuses on requirement of soft skills for communicating across departments in an organization. Fortunately, laying the foundation for good working relationships with other departments is a learned skill as experienced by management consultants. It starts with evaluating the role of the engineering department in an enterprise and continues with learning how to best communicate with employees of all personalities and skill levels. One soft skill that is easily learned and honed over time is the ability to communicate clearly. Another tip is to treat the person making a request of you the way you would for an outside customer. If another customer request supersedes, explain that to the employee requesting your time. Always take the time to proofread an e-mail or instant message, or any other form of written communication. Always treat employees from other departments just as you would for those in your own engineering team.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(08):36-37. doi:10.1115/1.2009-Aug-4.
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This paper focuses on that one can make a fortune if one holds a patent for something that everybody wants; and when one is rich and the patent expires, then in general, the society can benefit from what one invented. According a 2007 survey, the average cost for a utility patent application in the United States is around $12,000. By the time the patent is granted, the total cost could easily exceed $20,000. As for basic patent application drafting information, provide any information that the attorney will need to set the deadline for filing the application. List the names, residential addresses, and citizenship of all the likely inventors. List and provide a copy of all relevant prior papers and patents you know about that are related to the invention. Many companies use “invention disclosure” forms for these purposes. If the patent attorney is willing, ask for a discount for multiple applications and/or fixed cost applications. The overall cost may not be that much lower, but at least the cost is known ahead of time and can budget the patenting efforts accordingly.

Topics: Patents , Inventions
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(08):38-41. doi:10.1115/1.2009-Aug-5.
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This article discusses reverse engineering software is slowly changing the way design engineers do their everyday jobs. With the pervasiveness of computer-aided design packages, reverse engineering technology has become a practical tool to create a 3D virtual model of an existing physical part. This model is then available to be used in 3D CAD, computer-aided manufacturing, or other computer-aided engineering applications. The reverse engineering process needs hardware and software that work together. The hardware is used to measure an object, and the software reconstructs it as a 3D model. The physical object can be measured using 3D scanning technologies such as a coordinate measuring machine, laser scanner, structured light digitizer, or computed tomography. The wider accessibility of handheld-laser scanners and portable CMMs like the one used at Excel Foundry means more companies can afford reverse engineering for their own unique ends. The scanner has turned out to be equally useful for engineering and for local archeological and preservation projects; and so far, it has been used to help preserve endangered artifacts.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(08):42-45. doi:10.1115/1.2009-Aug-6.
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This article focuses on the Oil Age, which began 150 years ago in Pennsylvania and forecasts suggest that it has only few decades left for extinction. In today’s world, much of the fire comes from petroleum, which was first extracted from the ground for commercial purposes 150 years ago. Whale oil was prized for best light and low soot, but production peaked in the 1840s. This was the decade when Herman Melville sailed on a whaling ship, which inspired Moby Dick. The modern Oil Age can be traced to a well near Oil Creek in the northwestern Pennsylvania community of Titusville, where an enterprise managed by Edwin Drake discovered petroleum on August 27, 1859. It was not the first strike of oil in history, but it was the first that intended to exploit oil commercially as fuel. The petrochemical industry that uses mostly oil and natural gas for feedstock started at the beginning of the 20th century in the form of fertilizers and synthetic plastics and polymers. Today our vehicles have better tires that have resulted from using synthetic polymers rather than natural rubber from trees.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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