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Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(02):26-31. doi:10.1115/1.2005-FEB-1.
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This article discusses data mining that draws upon extensive work in areas such as statistics, machine learning, pattern recognition, databases, and high-performance computing to discover interesting and previously unknown information in data. More specifically, data mining is the analysis of 10 large data sets to find relationships and patterns that aren’t readily apparent, and to summarize the data in new and useful ways. Data mining technology has enabled earth scientists from NASA to discover changes in the global carbon cycle and climate system, and biologists to map and explore the human genome. Data mining is not restricted solely to vast banks of data with unlimited ways of analyzing it. Manufacturers, such as W.L. Gore (the maker of GoreTex) use commercially available data mining tools to warehouse and analyze their data, and improve their manufacturing process. Gore uses data mining tools from analytic software vendor SAS for statistical modeling in its manufacturing process.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(02):33-35. doi:10.1115/1.2005-FEB-2.
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This article focuses on research that looks at wireless networks to lower the cost of monitoring plant machinery. General Electric (GE), through its Global Research arm in Niskayuna, N.Y., will investigate wireless motor monitoring; Eaton Corp. of Cleveland will examine wireless data acquisition from electrical distribution gear; and Minneapolis-based Honeywell Inc. will look at wireless process control. The projects, now completing their first phases, will produce demonstration systems when they wrap up two years from now. Distribution product maker Eaton estimates that 90 percent of the electrical switching equipment the company sells today can monitor the quality of the power running through it. The company further estimates that 90 percent of the buyers for that equipment do not wire it up to take advantage of the data's availability. Unlike the monitoring strategies of GE or Eaton, both of which would tolerate intermittent data and even interruptions without drastic consequences, real-time control for Honeywell means the wireless system needs to throw robustness and reliability into the bargain. The Honeywell business problem is one of building confidence that transmitting critical process data over short-range radio networks can happen without interference.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(02):37-40. doi:10.1115/1.2005-FEB-3.
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This article discusses that tools of improvement do not always fit the hand in need. El Salvador lies in Central America. In the north–south split between the have and have-not countries, it clearly falls in the south. According to the World Bank, gross national income per capita is $2,200, compared with an average of a little more than $2,900 for all of Latin America and the Caribbean. In the developed world, per capita income is closer to $26,000. It is estimated that more than 40 percent of the 6.5 million people in El Salvador live below the poverty line; that is, they make so little that they cannot buy all the necessities of life. Backed by funds from Europe, the team finished three rural installations in the two and a half years between late 1999 and the middle of 2002. Rivas and the team are still working on the mechanical design. They have come up with a new adjustment mechanism that is easier to operate than the plate and pin system. This version uses a cable that attaches to hooks at various elevations on the support post to adjust the incline.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(02):41-43. doi:10.1115/1.2005-FEB-4.
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This article focuses on managing motivated engineers means having to tell them it is time to stop tinkering with one design and move on to the next. Managing means knowing when to say what, as after all, the equipment will never meet the engineers’ exacting specifications. Volunteers sometimes travel to a location to figure out how a piece of equipment might be used. Oftentimes, however, the budget doesn't allow for overseas trips. Committees meet monthly, and during the interim, committee members experiment alone or in groups with parts of a project. Management is best accomplished when a project with a particular need is attached to a competent volunteer who has an interest in that need. Projects sound easy in execution: highly trained engineers and food scientists—many with an illustrious career are worth of experience to contribute—volunteer to design fairly straightforward tools. But sometimes the simplest tools are the most difficult to design.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(02):44-46. doi:10.1115/1.2005-FEB-5.
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This article highlights that by the late 19th century, as the prestige of engineers grew, their inventiveness gave rise to unprecedented industrial advancement. In 1888, George Westinghouse was investigating a motor for his alternating current electrical system. He had developed AC power two years earlier, and it offered a transmission advantage over the direct current system of Thomas Edison. The introduction of a transformer, to step voltages up or down, permitted efficient power transmission over longer distances. Edison’s system still had the upper hand; however, because of the DC motor. Direct current not only could light up the dark, it could also do work, like driving streetcars and factory machinery. American industrialization hurtled forward during ASME’s second decade, and mechanical engineers were in the forefront. Through inventions and technical ingenuity and know-how, engineers made great contributions to industrial productivity and helped corporate employers achieve success and profitability.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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