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Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(06):26-31. doi:10.1115/1.2005-JUN-1.
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This article appreciates the powerful pull of low-cost offshore engineering services. Elkay, a privately held company, employs 3800 workers at 14 manufacturing sites. For most of its 85-year history, it has made stainless steel sinks and plumbing accessories from two-dimensional drawings. In many ways, Elkay’s case highlights the forces behind the new shift to offshore engineering. While multinationals have shuffled work among remote engineering centers for decades, small and medium-size companies are just starting to tap foreign engineering talent. Access to offshore services makes many companies more competitive. Barry-Wehmiller used its Indian center to cut the cost of customizing packaging machines. Elkay used the same engineers to build a library of 3D CAD models that let it design products faster and cheaper. The auto industry is already adapting a new business model that involves collaborating in real time across nontraditional boundaries.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(06):32-35. doi:10.1115/1.2005-JUN-2.
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This article highlights the beauty of an early tamper-proof design of how it can be installed with almost any straight-bladed screwdriver, as opposed to many tamper-resistant screws that came later, which required special drivers for turning them in either direction. A drawback of the one-way, slotted variety is that it is difficult to remove with any tool save maybe a drill. Hence, Tamperproof sells a tool for removing them that uses two prongs to cut notches in the head. Unlike the one-way, slotted style, other tamper-proof designs are meant to be taken out occasionally. Unfortunately, there is not much control anymore over distribution of the driver bits for designs like the Torx tamper-proof screws, so they go only as far as making vandalism inconvenient. Prisons are big users of tamper-proof fasteners. In such places, even innocuous shower drain covers are honed into knives by convicts who, between working on their pecs at the gyms and their cases in the law libraries, find time to work on their projects in the prison machine shops.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(06):36-38. doi:10.1115/1.2005-JUN-3.
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This article reviews how reverse engineering is used in detecting and preserving. Engineers across many disciplines find reverse engineering an invaluable tool to discover and learn about a product’s structure and design. A good forensic engineer will glean relevant information through meticulous investigation and by taking a reverse-engineering approach. Texas Tech University, the National Park Service, and the Historic American Buildings Survey are now creating digital architectural drawings to detail the 120-year-old statue’s every curve, cranny, and dimension. They are doing this through reverse engineering. The university is capturing the statue's unique architecture with three-dimensional laser scanning technology tied to geometry processing software, which automatically generates an accurate digital model from the scan data. To help align the scans and to fix the holes, the team turned to technology that creates surface models from scanned data. The software is Geomagic Studio, from Raindrop Geomagic of Research Triangle Park, NC.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(06):40-41. doi:10.1115/1.2005-JUN-4.
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This article discusses how Amy Smith, a mechanical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, has turned simple materials into life-changing tools. One of the first was developing a new type of grain mill that could revolutionize the lives of women in the Third World. A motor-driven mill can accomplish the same task in just a couple of minutes, but motorized mills are difficult to come by and expensive to maintain. Smith realized that coming up with a simpler, cheaper mill would be a boon for many families. Often in underdeveloped areas, this grinding must be done by hand, with women crushing the kernels between a rock or mortar and a flat stone or bowl. Smith’s group has developed a clamp for controlling intravenous fluid that could help nurses care for more patients during an epidemic.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(06):42-44. doi:10.1115/1.2005-JUN-5.
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This article focuses on the concept that in the dark years of the Great Depression, rural cooperatives brought a new level of power to American agriculture. Vermont was a microcosm of the electric power industry’s business model during the three decades following the turn of the century. Numerous utilities came online to meet the demands of factories, streetcars, and households in expanding urban centers. Electricity-powered machines to milk cows and dry corn ran pumps to increase the availability of water for irrigation, and provided heat for pigpens and chicken coops. Electricity also brought comfort and convenience to the home, as country residents purchased appliances to preserve food, wash and iron clothes, and vacuum floors. The technological factors that drove the growth of electric utilities in the early 20th century include improved steam efficiencies, the development of turbocharged generators, the application of superpower, and gains in lowering system heat rates. ASME was at the focal point of all these topics. Society members were the ones designing and maintaining the systems and operating the plants, as well as developing the technical standards for steam boilers.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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