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Mechanical Engineering. 2007;129(07):24-27. doi:10.1115/1.2007-JUL-1.
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This article presents reasons behind growth of Princeton Power. Princeton Power derives from a patent for a proprietary technology and a class that inspired students to form their own companies. Its development so far reflects a growing interest in finding better ways to harness alternative energy sources, but at its core, the company represents the desire of four young men to try something new. Originally, Princeton Power planned to build large inverters for the power grid, but the company discovered a fast-growing market for smaller inverters that can convert the output of solar cells and wind generators into usable capacity. Princeton Power focuses on the nuts and bolts of its systems. It is exactly the type of work engineers are trained to do-focus on real problems and solve them. The company has also teamed with Gaia Power Technologies Inc. of New York, to develop controllers for battery backup systems that must interface with the electrical grid. Not only will the systems provide backup power in the event of an outage, but customers can use them to capture electricity at night, when rates are cheaper, and then use the electricity during peak hours when rates are high.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2007;129(07):28-29. doi:10.1115/1.2007-JUL-2.
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This article describes management and business strategy while working with Asian employees. Asians love challenges as they think it is their job. If fact, they are so good at what they do that if there is no challenge, they feel they are not justifying their salaries. Experts highlight that informal meetings do three things: They break Asian taboos on business meeting protocol; they put us at a disadvantage because Asians are strategic thinkers, focused on the long term; they ignore the fact that Asians do not tolerate mistakes for all sorts of cultural reasons. Asians don’t have the mentality that if something goes sideways in a meeting, they’ll fix it on the spot. They don’t like to make mistakes in the first place. One of the best ways to stand out from the competition is to come to meetings prepared to do business the Asian way. There are five steps to follow: plan with the long term in mind; spend time on the details; come prepared to discuss potential problems; project potential risks into the future; and build consensus with others on your team prior to the formal meeting to present a common front.

Topics: Errors , Teams , Salaries
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2007;129(07):30-33. doi:10.1115/1.2007-JUL-3.
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This article explains the need of being versatile, flexible, adaptable, or capable of assuming forms for career demands that confront modern day engineers. The protean career, with the growing need for individual motivation and continuous, career-related learning and development, is indeed a contemporary reality for many engineers. The article also highlights that present and future engineering jobs will involve more challenge, more skilled expertise, and the ability to ‘network’ with others who possess similarly valuable knowledge, skills, and abilities. An engineer must be able to define and clearly articulate the nature and scope of current and future project assignments, as opposed to individual jobs. As work becomes more project-oriented, engineering career success will increasingly depend on the ability to move from project to project, and to absorb the learning and ‘best practices’ from each assignment, as opposed to retaining a relatively static job title and work environment. The successful engineer will more and more frequently be the one capable of using the tools at his or her disposal to effectively orient or map their knowledge and abilities to the current and future needs of their current organization, remaining flexible, adaptable, and versatile.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2007;129(07):34-36. doi:10.1115/1.2007-JUL-4.
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This article presents details of research and development in the field of medical treatments using rapid prototyping. Many physicians are turning to rapid prototyping because it can give them models of their patients’ internal organs or bones. The plastic models are essentially printed in three dimensions from a patient’s computer tomography or magnetic resonance imaging scans. The 3D models let doctors see and touch the diseased part of a patient’s anatomy as they will see it in the operating room. A medical team is adding a new technique called electron-beam melting, which relies upon melted titanium powder to produce implantable metal devices from CT-scan information. The technology, from Arcam of Boras, Sweden, builds up the metal parts via rapid prototyping. RP4Baghdad is a humanitarian effort founded in mid-2005 by members of the U.S. rapid prototyping and manufacturing industry. It calls upon rapid prototyping techniques to help treat Iraqi civilians with severe injuries to the head and face.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2007;129(07):38-40. doi:10.1115/1.2007-JUL-5.
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This article reviews the evolution in the field of thermodynamics. In the 19th century, James Joule, an English physicist, discovered the equivalence of heat and work, and the First Law of Thermodynamics was firmly established. The Second Law developed in phases over some 125 years. It is one of the most abstract laws of physical science and is the bane of students and others who try to understand its complexity. The first phase in the evolution of the Second Law is older than Joule's work and is due to Sadi Carnot. Carnot published his results in a book, Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire, in 1824. The second phase in the evolution of the Second Law took place in 1849, when William Thomson studied Carnot's work. The third phase of the evolution of the Second Law was carried out by a German professor of mathematical physics, Rudolf Clausius, who became aware of the work of Carnot, Joule, and Kelvin in 1850. A fourth phase in the development of the Second Law was carried out by Lars Onsager in 1931. The fifth phase in the evolution of the Second Law was developed by Ilya Prigogine in 1945. The Second Law is a statement that the entropy content of a system may be increased or decreased by entropy exchanges with the environment, but may only be increased as irreversibilities cause entropy creation.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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