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Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(01):26-31. doi:10.1115/1.2005-JAN-1.
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This article reviews that diesel engines are more expensive than gasoline engines and the lower fuel prices in the United States make buying decisions based on fuel economy alone unlikely. Many of the advancements have gone largely unnoticed by US drivers, who still view diesels as workhorses for large trucks. But some proponents of diesel say that a combination of higher torque, better fuel economy, and smooth, quiet engine performance could sway a significant number of drivers here to consider diesels for smaller, personal-use vehicles. Diesels provide better fuel efficiency than gasoline engines do and are well suited to heavy loads and continuous driving. Hauling a heavy load up a steep grade, the difference in fuel economy could be as high as 75 percent compared to conventional gasoline engines. Diesels could make a bigger impact on fuel consumption from a fleet perspective in this country, where people favor larger vehicles, than in Europe. Diesels deliver higher torque at lower speeds than gasoline engines, allowing drivers to get away with a comparatively smaller, lower horsepower diesel without sacrificing acceleration or towing capacity.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(01):32-34. doi:10.1115/1.2005-JAN-2.
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This article discusses that according to the Argonne National Laboratory Center for Transportation Research, long-haul truck idling in the United States burns more than 800 million gallons of fuel a year. The big reasons for idling include heating and cooling of sleeper cabs and generating electricity for onboard appliances like refrigerators and microwaves. In severe, glove-cracking cold, truckers idle to avoid cold starts and to keep their fuel from turning to slush. Onboard idle-reduction systems range from simple start–stop arrangements to full-out auxiliary diesel generators. They require greater financial commitments than stationary systems on the part of the truckers or the employers who buy them. Yet, unlike many pollution prevention programs, where installing equipment often spells lower efficiencies, idling reduction stands a good chance of lowering both fuel usage and emissions. A business case can be built for many idling reduction schemes.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(01):36-39. doi:10.1115/1.2005-JAN-3.
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This article focuses on that engineers probably know that the CAD programs they use every day serve a multitude of fields, most notably architecture, but they may be surprised to find just how broadly CAD is implemented. Fashion designers, video game creators, landscapers, and interior designers rely on the software for one purpose or another. Just as in engineering, CAD technology, in the past decade or so, has revolutionized fashion design. Essentially, designers use the technology to create the technical sketches of their clothing design, a job they traditionally did by hand. Just as in engineering, fashion designers use their CAD software to make lives easier by automating certain repeatable task; this way, they do not recreate again and again the shapes and designs they use all the time. Much like an engineering project, potential architectural designs need to be vetted by a number of individuals before they are approved. Architectural firms are only too familiar with one complication of the job, which engineers do not often face. CAD software helps out in this aspect, as well, because architects can show local government officials exactly how a finished building will look.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(01):40-41. doi:10.1115/1.2005-JAN-4.
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This article highlights how risk analysis calculates the probability and consequences of failures so that appropriate action can be taken to forestall them. Factories judge the best maintenance intervals for machinery, and military planners rate the soundness of missions. A broad group of experts from industry, government, and academia are trying to adapt risk analysis methods to problems of protecting the nation's infrastructure from acts of terrorism. The program, dubbed RAMCAP (from "risk analysis and management for critical assets protection"), is intended to give the federal government a means of evaluating risk across the country. Having a means of judging relative risk can help the government decide where to spend federal money for public defense or where to concentrate the expertise of the national laboratories as they develop technology to protect the country's infrastructure. There are a lot of other people-risk analysis engineers, security consultants, and safety experts-stepping back.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(01):42-44. doi:10.1115/1.2005-JAN-5.
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This article reviews a design revolution that is taking place in entertainment, and technology is playing a major role. Just as computer graphics have enhanced movies and video games, live entertainment, too, is showcasing spectacles requiring evermore sophisticated technical effects. Nowhere has this trend been more evident than in Las Vegas, the live-entertainment capital of the world. In its work, Sceneing Solutions involved engineering collaboration with theater people to perform a number of analyses. Included were finite element calculations of the structural function, and input on the manufacturability of the various scenery elements. All of the aspects were developed with the assistance of CAD drawings. The last two decades have seen a rapid increase in the technical sophistication of live entertainment. Nowhere is there more spectacle than in Las Vegas, as each new hotel casino tries to offer more excitement to draw customers. To service this growing demand, there is a new technical business for theatrical engineers, who can both design and realize the high technology of stagecraft.

Topics: Design , Engineers
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(01):46-48. doi:10.1115/1.2005-JAN-6.
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This article discusses that although it remains the worst maritime disaster in the US history, the Sultana explosion was not an isolated incident in the United States. Boiler explosions occurred with alarming frequency, not only on board steamboats, but also in factories, mines, sawmill, and woodworking shops. Legend has it that the group came together expressly to address the problem of unsafe boilers, but the initial objectives of ASME were modest. The founders were seeking a reliable system for technical information exchange as well as a social setting. The publication of the first ASME Boiler Code in 1914 was a symbolic moment in the history of the Society, an event that would help define the organization and contribute to its stature and importance in the mechanical engineering community for decades to follow. Ninety years later, the Society today has approximately 3400 active volunteers working on committees that combine to issue more than 600 standards. The standards detail the proper dimensions of a wide range of manufactured objects, from pressure vessels and piping to screw threads. However varied they are, they serve a single purpose: to make sure that all the pieces fit and hold together safely, even under pressure.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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