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Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(05):26-29. doi:10.1115/1.2005-MAY-1.
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This article highlights that mechanical engineers control most of the rest of our energy economy. The engineering focus will shift inexorably toward finding the most efficient means of generating electricity on-board. Trains and monster trucks both use big diesel generators. Hybrid cars on the road today burn gasoline, but it is the fuel cell that attracts the most attention from visionaries and critics of the internal combustion engine. Remarkably elegant in its basic operation, the fuel cell transforms fuel into electricity in a single step, completely bypassing the furnace, turbine, and generator. In this scenario, mechanical engineering ultimately surrenders its last major under-the-hood citadel to chemical engineers. One might say that the age of mechanical engineering was launched by James Watt's steam engine in 1763, and propelled through its second century by Nikolaus Otto’s 1876 invention of the spark-ignited petroleum engine. We are now at the dawn of the age of electrical engineering, not because we recently learned how to generate light-speed electrical power, but because we have now finally learned how to control it.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(05):31-35. doi:10.1115/1.2005-MAY-2.
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This article focuses on seaports, shippers, and the government that are linking their efforts to maintain a critical infrastructure. The rising importance of ports, however, presents them with a particular challenge when it comes to tightening their security measures. Over the last few years, ports have struggled to protect their assets without disrupting commerce, which could result in severe economic consequences. Ports need to be protected because they are so valuable, but they have to be protected carefully because they are so valuable. Technology plays an essential role in security applications, such as access control and cargo monitoring, but he warns against having blind faith in what technology can accomplish. Security issues are having an effect on companies that operate on a global scale. Companies have to consider not just how well global supply chains work, but how susceptible they are to disruption.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(05):36-38. doi:10.1115/1.2005-MAY-3.
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This article highlights the race to bring liquefied natural gas (LNG) onto America’s continental shelf. The new LNG tanker Excelsior moored to the underwater buoy of Excelerate Energy’s Energy Bridge and, after receiving a Coast Guard go-ahead, began re-gasifying its contents and injecting them into the nation's pipeline grid. Energy Bridge tops a list of nearly a dozen offshore terminals in various stages of planning or construction. It joined an even longer list of LNG terminals in various phases of planning or construction trying to do the same thing on land. Offshore terminals will play a role in this total, as Energy Bridge is demonstrating. Placing terminals at sea eliminates some of the concern about transporting LNG near or through populated coastal regions.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(05):39-41. doi:10.1115/1.2005-MAY-4.
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This article reviews the rise of cities, and of the machines that built them has set a trend that outlasted the 20th century. Emboldened and enjoying newfound prosperity and modernity, Engineering, reflecting the times, was bold, and perhaps nowhere was this more evident than in the American city. While electric and steam locomotives coexisted on America’s railways in the 1920s, the two technologies resided in completely separate camps. Each sector had strong adherents, who often faced off to debate the technical merits and future prospects of one technology over the other. Together with the automobile, the highway system contributed significantly to the development of the nation, enabling towns and cities to take root well beyond the confines of urban centers and railway stations. Mechanical engineers played a vital role in highway development in such areas as construction machinery, cost analysis of projects, and materials.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(05):42-45. doi:10.1115/1.2005-MAY-5.
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This article discusses shop floor software that taps into CAD systems to get vital manufacturing information. Manufacturing and mechanical engineers find themselves linked by more than just the words in their job titles. Although they might inhabit different parts of the plant or work at separate companies, the engineers have always worked together to turn a design into a part. Now, software that makes it easier to bridge the gap between design and manufacturing has stepped up that cooperation. Computer-aided design systems have long been linked with the computer-aided manufacturing software that directs manufacturing equipment. CAM software takes CAD data to the shop floor by essentially telling shop floor machines how to make a part. Inspection applications take CAD data out to the shop floor to check part specifications against the finished product. They might not spell the doom of Inspector Nine at the end of the assembly line, but those software tools prove invaluable to check manufactured parts against the original CAD design.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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