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Mechanical Engineering. 2001;123(04):46-51. doi:10.1115/1.2001-APR-1.
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The US Bureau of Lab or Statistics reports that in 1999, women made up 24.5 percent of doctors compared with 6.1 percent in 1950. The Lore-El Center at Stevens sponsors programs designed to encourage girls to enjoy working with technology. The cornerstone of Lore-El’s pre-college program is a two-week summer resident session for high school students in engineering. The program also works to examine innovative ways of teaching physics and dispelling stereotypes associated with engineering. The Lore-El Center works to show students what engineers do and the contributions they make in society, where much of everything is generated by engineers, or improved by them to make a better product. Experts are designing a series of games and experiments with Tufts University to be tested at schools across the country, so that teachers and principals who have no experience in engineering can take the modules and implement them in their classrooms.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2001;123(04):52-54. doi:10.1115/1.2001-APR-2.
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Researchers are using nanoparticles of clay to raise polymers to new capabilities. The ongoing interest in nanocomposite polymers is evidenced by two upcoming conferences on the topic scheduled later this year—one sponsored by Principia Partners in Baltimore in June and another hosted by the Canadian National Research Council’s Industrial Materials Institute in Montreal in September. The automotive area represents a lot of potential, particularly for exterior body panels and fascia, and such interior components as instrument panels. One indication of the interest level is the attention being focused on thermoplastic olefins, which is one of the fastest growing plastic groups used in exterior and interior automotive applications. Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Michigan, and Decoma International of America in Troy, Michigan, are jointly investigating nanocomposites as part of a NIST Advanced Technology Program. The present focus of the project is understanding the fundamentals of processing, developing, and compounding nanocomposites. Dow is also looking at synthetic nanofillers, which may offer advantages in consistency over natural clay feedstocks.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2001;123(04):56-61. doi:10.1115/1.2001-APR-3.
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Russell Porter, artist, explorer, engineer, turned his hobby into an observatory of unprecedented scale in California. Although he was a trained architect, Russell Porter is known as a scientist, photographer, surveyor, and inventor and played a pivotal role in the development of the Palomar Observatory. Though he never foresaw telescope design in his career plans, Porter was intimately involved in the design and other aspects of the Glass Giant, the 200-inch-diameter telescope on Palomar Mountain. In 1915, Porter returned to MIT as a professor of architecture. When the United States entered World War I, Hartness advised the National Bureau of Standards to retain Porter to develop manufacturing techniques for optical instruments, including prisms and reflecting surfaces. Russell Porter’s work remains visible on the Cal Tech campus in Pasadena. A visit to the corridors of the astrophysics building reveals spectacular cosmic images of distant galaxies and nebula along with 30 of Porter’s more than 1000 cutaway design drawings of telescopes.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2001;123(04):62-64. doi:10.1115/1.2001-APR-4.
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This article discusses that developments in communication software promise a robust future for engineering technology. Collaborative technology, the next new thing, links all aspects of a business, including ways to easily marry a company’s engineering technologies to suppliers’ and vendors’ product data management (PDM) systems. The companies selling engineering technology can expect to operate in a rich, fertile market for the next 20 years, according to one technology analyst, especially with the introduction of product process management systems. Some engineers advise caution in heeding the clarion call of collaborative product development technology. The PDM market, valued at $5.8 billion last year, could double and perhaps even quadruple within five years if pursued aggressively and supplemented with collaborative technology, according to one expert. The article also discusses that for a technology as difficult to understand, to assess the need for, and to finance as collaborative systems may prove to be, suppliers should assume some of implementation’s financial risks.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2001;123(04):66-68. doi:10.1115/1.2001-APR-5.
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This article illustrates that factories and machine shops use automated controls, sensors, and continuous electric arcs to make faster welds better. Welding system manufacturers, such as Lincoln Electric Co. of Cleveland, work with robot manufacturers, including ABB, to integrate their products and tailor automated welding systems that make faster precision welds. At the same time, instrumentation companies, such as LMI Selcom of Gothenburg, Sweden, have developed sensors to improve the precision of automated welding systems even further in high-volume applications. LMI Selcom Robotic Guidance of Gothenburg, Sweden, developed its SeamFinder laser measurement systems to improve the welding quality and cycle times of robotic. A key component to the Power MIG 200 is its Diamond Core technology, an internal assembly that provides a constant electrical current to the welding torch. A Michigan-based welding company taking advantage of the Power MIG 200’s smooth arc is Midstate Utility in White Cloud. The company fabricates machinery used to install telephone cable. Midstate Utility has been using the Lincoln unit since October of 2000.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2001;123(04):70-72. doi:10.1115/1.2001-APR-6.
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This article provides an understanding of a metric system and a standard that describes a universal, international language of measurement. Essentially, all units created in modern times are metric in every country of the world, including the United States. The evolution is coordinated by an international committee in which the United States has participated since 1875. The modern system of measurement is properly called SI, not metric. Individually, they measure such basic physical quantities as length, mass, or time. Alone or in combination, they let mankind measure anything. Many derived units can be expressed in more than one form, but professional use usually settles on a single convention. The degree Celsius is an alternate name for the Kelvin when a temperature increment is meant. It is also a name that designates a temperature on the Celsius scale. If each symbol is written according to the SI rules distinguishing between uppercase and lowercase letters, and between the Latin and Greek letters—it will be intelligible anywhere, regardless of the script and language a nation uses.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2001;123(04):74-75. doi:10.1115/1.2001-APR-7.
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This article focuses on aspects of an onboard fuel-distilling system aims to curb the belch of hydrocarbons from a cool starting engine. According to an expert, feeding an engine high-volatility fuel during warm-up can halve the hydrocarbon emissions during a 30-minute drive. Ronald Mathews, along with Rudy Stanglmaier, a former University of Texas Austin doctoral student now with the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, and two Ford engineers, Wen Dai and George Davis, have patented an on-board distillation system that can refine fast-evaporating species from fuel while the engine is running and set aside the product as a reserve to be used at start-up. Among the key elements of the system is a level sensor in the reserve tanks. If the reserve falls too low, a control system in the engine central processing unit will trigger the distillation while the engine is running warm. The research for the technology, called the onboard distillation system, was supported in part by the Texas Advanced Technology Program, with Ford underwriting the patent application process.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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