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Mechanical Engineering. 1998;120(12):46-51. doi:10.1115/1.1998-DEC-1.
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This article highlights an important milestone in medical history that was achieved when surgeons performed a delicate operation to repair a valve in a patient’s heart. During the procedure, the patient’s defective valve was trimmed and reconstructed. The operation was remarkable not because of what it accomplished—many thousands of patients have undergone heart-valve repair—but because of how it was done. During much of the complex procedure, the surgeon’s hands never entered or touched the patient’s body. Master-slave manipulators and telerobots are a special breed of robot-one in which the human is directly in the control loop commanding the robot’s actions. Telerobots are a modern version of master-slave manipulator technology, which has been used successfully in critical applications for more than four decades. The Intuitive system and others like it mark the beginning of a potentially huge wave of surgical applications for telerobots. With the assistance of surgical telerobots, surgeons will extend their healing skills to places within the body that are currently out of reach.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 1998;120(12):53-57. doi:10.1115/1.1998-DEC-2.
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This article reviews the significance of Alexander Calder’s, a renowned sculptor, technical and engineering expertise that has become increasingly clear in recent years. Calder’s most important innovation in the development of wire sculpture was the suspension of his wire forms from a single wire thread. A small wood-and-wire caricature of a monkey was the first, soon followed by several caricatures of Josephine Baker, the star of La Revue N è gre at the Folies Bergè re and an international sensation in 1925. Like Leonardo da Vinci, Calder was primarily interested in problem solving, in experimenting with materials, mechanical systems, and devices. Calder’s studio was like a laboratory, with experimental works piled into corners or suspended from hooks in the ceiling. The most engaging aspect of Calder’s sculpture was its interaction with space. Mobiles participated in lively dialogues with their environs, reacting to air currents and human touch.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 1998;120(12):58-63. doi:10.1115/1.1998-DEC-3.
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This article discusses the cutting-edge technologies and the rising value of light crude oils that have ushered in an era of new investment in Alberta’s oil sand extraction, with the major players embarking on ambitious programs that will more than double production in the next century. More recently, new extraction techniques and a rise in the price of light crude oils have made it more economical to extract the bitumen from sand and upgrade it into a light crude oil. Syncrude has undertaken a $6 billion (Canadian) project, Syncrude 21, to improve environmental performance and energy efficiency, while increasing product yield and quality. Syncrude expects to double its annual production to 155 million barrels by 2007, in part by opening its third mine at Mildred Lake. Suncor Energy also intends to increase its future production in its Project Millennium. The $2.2 billion (Canadian) endeavor is expected to boost oil sand production to 210,000 barrels per day by 2002, increasing current production by nearly two and a half times.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 1998;120(12):64-66. doi:10.1115/1.1998-DEC-4.
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This article focuses on Motion Concept Vehicles Inc.’s (MCV) in Mississauga, ON, which is creating a $225,000 supercar. When the idea was born, the car was to run on natural gas, or methane—hence, the car’s original name, CH4, as in the chemical nomenclature for the gas’s operative compound. The prototype has already hit the Toronto streets and runs on natural gas. The engine in the CH4 prototype is a General Motors 4.6-liter, multivalve V8, converted to run on natural gas. The maker of the gasoline engine that will power the first production models is still being determined. MCV had a strong enough story to attract optical scanning leader Steinbichler and alias/wavefront, the Silicon Graphics subsidiary that builds software for designing and refining surfaces. MCV must bring the design geometry up to so-called class A surfaces within the alias/wavefront software environment, which is called SurfaceStudio 9 in its latest release. This process of perfecting a car's surfaces to be both structurally and mechanically sound as well as aesthetically pleasing takes a fraction of the time it took in the days of clay models, the companies point out.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 1998;120(12):68-70. doi:10.1115/1.1998-DEC-5.
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This article highlights that unless top management is truly interested in faster product development, lower level managers can do little that will have a sustained effect on time to market. Managers must saturate the company with the awareness that faster cycle time is a high priority, as well as why it is a high priority. The more people involved in decision-making, the more slowly decisions get made. For this reason, to hasten development, the development team must first be given what they need to function autonomously and then cut loose from all those in the organization who do not have a clear stake in the project’s outcome. New approaches will sometimes result in mistakes, and without a clear mandate from management that the process changes are worth the risk of error, no one will dare risk anything substantial. In addition to this, if management expects that its exhortations of faster time to market be taken seriously, it must recognize and reinforce all reasonable steps in that direction.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 1998;120(12):72-73. doi:10.1115/1.1998-DEC-6.
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This article focuses on the growing role of computer-aided engineering programs for the design of electronic packaging. While computer-aided engineering (CAD) clearly offers the potential to improve products and cut manufacturing costs and time, those who have adopted CAE are facing significant challenges in making it work. Historically, CAE has failed to deliver results fast enough to exert a major influence on design decisions. Instead, corporations have used finite-element results to validate previously determined designs. But because design changes later can cost more than correct up-front decisions, CAE simulation can offer cash benefits when it has a role in the initial stages of product design. Technical staff leaders must translate objectives into CAE work that is efficient and effective. The status of the measurements must always be available, in order to monitor progress.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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