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Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(08):22-24. doi:10.1115/1.2005-AUG-1.
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This article reviews how engineering software and microtechnology prepare defense against bioterrorism. Researchers at government-associated labs across the nation are quietly working on the best ways to swiftly ready emergency responders in the event of a bioterrorism attack and to deal with the repercussions hours and days after the dreaded event. Over at Sandia National Laboratories, researchers have created a small, wall-mounted unit powered by a microchip that continuously monitors the surrounding air to check for harmful biological agents. Lab-on-a-chip technology performs analyses in a fraction of a minute that would take hours with traditional laboratory methods. Sandia researchers, with funding from the Department of Defense, seek to perfect a similar wall-mounted unit so it could one day be hung in a subway station or in another public area. The unit would while away the day collecting air samples and analyzing them.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(08):25-27. doi:10.1115/1.2005-AUG-2.
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This article discusses vision-enabled robots that are helping factories to keep the production lines rolling, even when the parts are out of place. The automotive industry was one of the earliest to adopt industrial robots, and continues to be one of its biggest users, but now industrial robots are turning up in more unusual factory settings, including pharmaceutical production and packaging, consumer electronics assembly, machine tooling, and food packaging. No current market research is available that breaks down vision-enabled versus blind robot usage. However, all the major industrial robot manufacturers are turning out models that are vision-enabled; one manufacturer said that its entire current line of robots are vision enabled. All it takes to change over the robot system is some fairly basic tooling changes to the robot's end-effector, and some programming changes in the software. The combination of speed, relatively low cost , flexibility, and ease of use that vision-enabled robots offer is making an increasing number of factories consider putting another set of eyes on their lines.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(08):28-29. doi:10.1115/1.2005-AUG-3.
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This article focuses on the process involved in machinery health monitoring. Operators need know only about certain things for which they can take immediate action: a cavitating pump, an overheating motor, a severely vibrating train, a failing bearing. They do not need knowledge of longer-term concerns like imbalance or misalignment, the domain of maintenance gurus. Likewise, management needs information about overall plant health and the priorities of various repairs, but it does not want to know that a circulation water pump is exhibiting mild axial misalignment or another pump elsewhere is beginning to cavitate.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(08):30-31. doi:10.1115/1.2005-AUG-4.
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This article reviews profile of Joseph Fourier, a French mathematician, who was a true father of modern engineering. Concepts that engineers use every day—as fundamental as the homogeneity of equations and the heat transfer coefficient—were pioneered by Fourier. Fourier’s contributions to engineering science, many of which were presented in his 1822 book, The Analytical Theory of Heat, include the original view of dimensional homogeneity. The heat transfer science it presented has been handed down to us virtually unchanged, and has served as a model for other branches of engineering. Fourier’s contemporaries forestalled the general publication of his work for 15 years while they claimed to find fault with it. They ultimately accepted his revolutionary view of homogeneity, solely because he was able to solve many practical and theoretical problems that had never been solved. He attributed his success to the homogeneity in his equations.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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