More in Editorial Comment

  • Jul 21, 2014
    Commentary

    Nine hardware pitches at San Francisco ‘Maker’ Startup Weekend 2

    Startup Weekend events are now pumping out hardware devices such as a NEST for pools and just-in-time liquor delivery systems....More
  • Jul 17, 2014
    Commentary

    Drones learn to observe environment and steer clear

    Late in 2012, maker-tinkerer and technical writer Paul Wallich created a buzz when he wrote about the drone he built to walk his son to the bus stop each morning. Fast-forward to 2014: Now researchers think they have a new way to make such UAVs and other vehicles more nimble in the face of environmental variables. The design uses neuromorphic sensors (that get triggered by sudden events) instead of the standard inertia-measuring sensors (such as accelerometers and gyroscopes) to track motion....More
  • Jul 17, 2014
    Commentary

    Today's STEM students are lucky

    Back in the age of dinosaurs when I was an engineering undergrad, the lab work generally ranged between uninspiring and discouraging....More
  • Jul 14, 2014
    Commentary

    Movie shows how Vermeer used engineering to paint perfection

    A movie is by inventor Tim Jenison and his friend Penn Jillette (the Vegas magician) documents eight years of work to recreate art by 17th-Century artist Johannes Vermeer. The art was most likely created through the use of a camera obscura....More
  • Jul 8, 2014
    News

    3D Printing for Hire: The Case of the Persnickety Prop 2

    Metrology and 3D-printing distributor Burton Precision helped University of Michigan researchers solve three major CAD problems, so they could make a plastic propeller for a human-powered submarine....More
  • Jul 8, 2014
    Commentary

    When a liberal arts degree isn't enough, bring on “experiential learning”

    There are unavoidable constants in life that usually are said to include death and taxes. To this list we should add old people complaining about younger generations. But when the complainers are business executives, a few entrepreneurial-minded educators sense an opportunity....More
  • Jul 3, 2014
    Commentary

    More automakers going with fiberglass springs 1

    Audi is in the news this week because it plans to start using suspension springs made of glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP) in one of its cars before the end of the year. Audi says it developed the spring in collaboration with an Italian supplier....More
  • Jun 27, 2014
    Commentary

    Ten for STEM - Ten developments promoting science & technology learning

    Education in the area of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has been in the headlines as employers find it tough to uncover potential employees having STEM backgrounds. Efforts are underway to rectify perceived shortages in STEM fields. Notice of several such initiatives recently crossed our desk. Here is a quick update on what's going on:...More
  • Jun 24, 2014
    Commentary

    6 engineering challenge web sites 3

    Global collaboration is now in full swing as open innovation network challenges appear all over the web. Have you stepped up to solve an online engineering challenge?...More
  • Jun 17, 2014
    Commentary

    Why more investors aren't millionaires and more engineers aren't innovators

    Every once in a while you'll find commentary in the finanical community that has insights applying equally well to other areas. That is the case for a recent essay in Barron's. Stephen Mauzy, an equity analyst at Wyatt Investment Research, was trying to explain why many professional investors have lousy track records making investments. He claims that most explanations of this phenomenon miss a key point: that investing is entrepreneurial....More
  • Jun 13, 2014
    Commentary

    Mainstreaming alert: 3D-printed parts in GE engines and X-ray machines

    When General Electric puts metal 3D-printed parts in its X-ray machines, you know it's gone mainstream. That's what the research summarized in this year's Wohler’s Report on 3D printing also suggests. Here, I explain one application that proves how far 3D printing has come....More
  • Jun 12, 2014
    blog

    A lot of industrial networks have a big hole in their cyber security

    Despite the fact that the Stuxnet virus made headlines when it attacked programmable logic controllers running Iran's nuclear centrifuges,  a similar attack on industrial facilities in the U.S. would be remarkably easy to pull off....More
  • Jun 10, 2014
    News

    RAPID 2014 takes the 3D printing world to Detroit

    This year's RAPID show will be the largest in over 24 years....More
  • solar roadways panel
    Jun 3, 2014
    blog

    .....Solar roadways? Only one way to find out if they are a pipe dream 10

    An outfit called Solar Roadways wants to replace asphalt roads and parking lots with solar cells and claims this idea is practical based on the tests it has run so far. The company has received some SBIR money and has given a TEDx talk on the subject which is viewable on its web site. ...More
  • May 29, 2014
    Commentary

    Wind turbines for low wind speeds defy Betz limit efficiency 13

    Many designers of utility scale wind turbines dismiss the idea of using turbines to capture energy from light breezes and in areas where there isn't a lot of wind. Their argument comes from Betz's law which calculates the maximum power available from the wind. The law uses principles of conservation of mass and momentum of the air stream flowing through an idealized cylinder that extracts energy from the wind stream. Importantly, it assumes the use of aerodynamic propeller blades in the turbine....More
  • May 28, 2014
    Commentary

    Rant: Spray and gascan nozzles equally idiotic

    Last weekend, in a bizarre burst of energy that had me motivated me enough to spraypaint a rusty old Charmglow grill that had become a certifiable eyesore, I dug up an old can of barbecue black Rustoleum spraypaint from our garage. In a development that added insult to injury, I'd soon discover that the nozzle on this spraycan is a Contraption of Infuriation that rivals the Grand Champion of Horrible Designs, the nefarious late-model Blitz nozzle. I'd soon discover that the nozzle on this spraycan is a Contraption of Infuriation that rivals the Grand Champion of Horrible Designs, the nefarious late-model Blitz nozzle....More
  • May 27, 2014
    Commentary

    More foreign workers, more pay? 3

    A recently released National Bureau of Economic Research working paper is garnering a lot of comment among those who promote immigration of science and technology workers into the U.S....More
  • May 19, 2014
    Commentary

    Innovative UAVs and Robots at AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2014

    I spent a couple days last week looking around at exhibits in the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) show in Orlando. We made a number of short videos there which you can see on EngineeringTV.com. I also put together this short video synopsis of a few trends that were in evidence ......More
  • May 12, 2014
    Commentary

    3D printing's fate according to a Technology Futurist 4

    I recently had an exchange with Jordan Brandt, a Technology Futurist at Autodesk, about 3D printing. "3D printing is for the last mile of factory automation — so in the next couple of years, expect additive mass-production methods to increase factory automation and product customization," predicts Brandt....More
  • May 2, 2014
    Commentary

    How to get an engineering job at SpaceX

    SpaceX, the company founded to revolutionize space technology, has been making headlines recently with its successful test of the reusable Falcon 9 rocket, along with some pretty impressive video footage. In the latest test of its capabilities, the reusable rocket flies up to 3,280 ft and then lands safely....More

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