When BMX racing makes its Olympic debut at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, the riders will kick off each race on a new pneumatic starting gate that features advanced electronic controls. ProStuff LLC builds this eight-rider gate, as well as a line of smaller practice models, mostly from a collection of standard Parker Hannifin components. What's most interesting about the gate isn't so much the componentry as ProStuff's design philosophy. ProStuff's founder, Pierce Barker III, has a day job as vice-president of Barker Rockford, a systems integrator that been building industrial machines for about 50 years. "We approached BMX gates the same way we would approach any machine-building project–with a focus on safety, performance, and reliability," he says. And that machine-builder's mentality has resulted in BMX gate designs that are arguably the most advanced in the world. Read the full story here.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.