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Mechanical Engineering. 2008;130(02):22-27. doi:10.1115/1.2008-FEB-1.
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This paper emphasizes on various aspects of human factors engineering. Researchers believe that superior design creates demand for new products. According to a human factor engineer, a design succeeds because it improves the user’s experience, defined in this case as time to complete a procedure. Metaphase Design’s new paintbrush for Shur-Line looks cool and uses human factors research to improve control and reduce forearm stress. Studies show that a parent’s voice wakes children better than an alarm during a fire. Hospitals and clinicians will pay a premium so they can work faster and more efficiently. Today, a growing number of designers have embraced human factors techniques, while extending those techniques to include emotion and cognition to shape the experience of the user. There is a need for a powerful user experience along with good looks for a product to be successful. The paper concludes that despite all the emphasis on human factors, personality and product profiling, and collaboration, the thinking behind it remains a very human and very personal vision.

Topics: Design , Human factors
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2008;130(02):28-33. doi:10.1115/1.2008-FEB-2.
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This article analyses the need and benefit of the working of industrial designers and product engineers together. According to engineers and others at the forefront of product development, to do the job right requires a collaboration involving design engineers, industrial designers, manufacturing engineers, and several other players, like marketing people, all of whom have important knowledge that needs to influence a design. Companies such as Trek Bicycle Corp. and Empire Level Manufacturing Corp. have developed practices that foster innovative, human-centered product development. Experts agree that computer-aided design (CAD) and rapid prototyping applications are the two most helpful systems, even though the two types of designers may use the tools in somewhat several ways. According to Rainer Gawlick, vice president of marketing at SolidWorks in Concord, Massachusetts, current CAD systems can help bridge the design-to-engineering-to-manufacturing gap.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2008;130(02):34-38. doi:10.1115/1.2008-FEB-3.
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This paper describes various high-level nuclear researches including nuclear-fuelled pebbles that are being conducted across South Africa. The pebbles are ingenious industrial products, designed to passively limit the amount of heat unleashed by the nuclear fission reactions that drive the reactor. The spheres that give the pebble bed reactor its name enclose fissionable uranium inside layers that serve various roles, such as moderating fission, containing pressure, and accommodating deformation of the core. Nuclear-fuelled pebbles are introduced at the top of the reactor vessel and slowly wend their way down through the annular-packed bed under the action of gravity to the bottom of the reactor vessel. In a towering building at the headquarters of Nesca in Pelindaba, South Africa, reactor components are being tested for their ability to work with high-pressure helium. Those parts will go in the pebble bed modular reactor power plant to be constructed at Koeburg, near Cape Town. The plan of the pebble bed reactor power plant will use the helium coolant to run the turbine directly rather than heat a secondary fluid, as in a water reactor.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2008;130(02):41-43. doi:10.1115/1.2008-FEB-4.
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This article discusses engineering supervision and engineering efforts in remediation of different sites. Public Works and Government Services Canada, which manages many of the military bases in the Ottawa region, commissioned the environmental and geotechnical firm Golder Associates Ltd. to provide engineering supervision and support for remediation of the site. The remediation of the former military landfill site, conducted in February and March 2006, not only cleaned up a polluted part of the Earth, it also pointed to some of the current best practices being used to protect the environment when working on military properties. Once site remediation began, plans had to be changed quickly, because Golder discovered that parts of the landfill site were dotted with holes that indicated it was being used as a turtle nesting site. Through a literature review, bioscientists determined what kind of aggregate would be most acceptable to the turtles as nesting material. The landfill cap is vegetated with grass and shrubs to consolidate the soil cover layers and prevent their erosion. Given that the site is behind the target area for one of the firing ranges, it does not get much human traffic, but its landscape is in keeping with the surrounding area, and the site poses no more threat to the local ecosystem.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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