Survey finds public ignorant about engineers, engineering
A Harris Poll survey indicates that Americans generally have a high regard for engineers, but don't know much about what engineers do. Ac-cording to the poll, commissioned by the American Association of Engineering Societies (AAES), most parents would be very pleased if their children became engineers. However, 45% of Americans feel that they are "not very well informed about engineering and engineers," while another 16% say they are "not at all well in-formed." Among women, the percentages increased to 55% and 23%, respectively. Pollsters asked respondents whether they "mostly associated" scientists, technicians, or engineers with various activities. Despite the strong engineering role in such areas as "working in space," "developing new forms of energy," and "creating new materials," the public cited scientists more often than engineers. "The essence of engineering is design and making things happen for the benefit of humanity." "It is no more appropriate for someone to describe an engineer as a 'researcher' as it would be for us to depict a surgeon as a 'health care worker,'" contends AAES Chair Martha Sloan. Contact Greg Schuckman of the AAES at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Uncle Sam tightens standards for non-road diesel engines
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized more stringent standards for reducing emissions from non-road diesel engines. The new rules, which will be phased in between 1999 and 2008, will reduce ground-level ozone and particulate matter by two-thirds beyond those currently in effect. The standards, EPA says, are consistent with those proposed in Europe. Not covered in this ruling are engines used in locomotives and underground mining equipment. Also exempted are engines over 50 hp used in marine vessels, and smaller engines typically used in model airplanes. EPA plans to reassess standards in 2001 and make adjustments. E-mail email@example.com.
Array of crash tests proposed for advanced airbags
The Administration wants super-smart airbags in a fourth of new cars sold in the U.S. in four years. Under its proposal, the portion would grow until September 1, 2005, when all new cars and light trucks would have to be equipped with advanced airbags. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) further proposes that the new cars pass several crash tests at different speeds. One is a 30-mph test that smashes a vehicle with an unbelted dummy into a fixed barrier. NHTSA had dropped that airbag test last year so car makers could reduce the power of the bags in low-impact collisions. Major U.S. automakers complain that a return to the 30-mph test would require more powerful bags, renewing a threat to children and short adults. Interested parties have until mid-December to comment on the proposals. NHTSA must finalize its airbag regulations by early 2000. Details are in NHTSA's Docket No. 98-4405. Phone (800) 424-9393.
Pentagon recruits tech firms for dual-use R&D projects
The Department of Defense (DOD) is looking for companies that can develop new products with both commercial and military use. The Pentagon seeks help in eight key areas: information systems and technology, distributed training systems, affordable sensors, medical technologies, environmental monitoring, fuel efficiency and advanced propulsion, aircraft longevity, and advanced structural systems for high-speed ocean vessels. Congress has ordered DOD to assign 15% of its budget for applied re-search to dual-use technologies by 2001. The military has compiled a bundle of incentives to get firms to cooperate. For example, DOD offers to share half the costs of developing the technologies. Also, Pentagon officials have simplified many of their acquisition regulations, eliminating unnecessary military specifications. E-mail inquiries to Dualfirstname.lastname@example.org.
New Internet sites include 'Women in engineering'
The number of web-sites of interest to engineers keeps expanding. The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has launched one called "Women in Engineering" at www.nae.edu/cwe. It is part of NAE's effort to encourage young girls and women to choose engineering as a profession. The site highlights achievements of women engineers and provides information on education, careers, and mentoring. The Commerce Dept.'s Technology Administration, meanwhile, has developed a site--called "Go for IT!"--to help expand the American workforce in information technology. Located at www.ta.doc.gov/go4it, the site contains profiles of 171 IT worker development programs across the country. The newly updated book, "World Wide Web Yellow Pages" from New Riders Publishing (Indianapolis), lists 45 other engineering-related sites on the Internet.