$500,000 Lemelson Prize goes to auto engineer
Young people know much about actors, rock stars and athletes but little about inventors. To help raise the image of innovators, one of its premier members has awarded the first of his yearly $500,000 "Oscars" for inventors. The benefactor is Jerome Lemelson, whom Design News readers picked as their Engineer of the Year. In a ceremony at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, Lemelson presented the prize to automotive engineer William J. Bolander. At General Motors, Bolander developed systems for allowing Cadillac engines to operate despite loss of coolant and for controlling traction in Saturn cars. A separate, non-cash "lifetime achievement" award went to William R. Hewlett and David Packard, founders of Hewlett-Packard Co. Besides the half-million dollars, Bolander got a crystal-laser hologram that displays 2,700 images of the award's logo. Similar prizes will be awarded for at least the next four years years, says the program's director, economist Lester Thurow of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The prizes will become permanent, Thurow says, if they help to popularize inventors as role-models for young Americans. Brain power, maintains Lemelson--who holds nearly 500 U.S. patents--will be "the critical natural resource of the 21st century."
Paper contest theme unveiled for World Standards Day
"Global Information Highway-a Matter of Standards" is the theme of the 1995 World Standards Day paper contest. A plaque and $2,500 will go to the author of the winning paper during the standards day celebration October 11 in Washington, DC. The contest is open to individuals in the U.S. private sector or government, including employees of outfits that develop standards. To get copies of rules and entry forms, phone Carolyn Anderson at (919) 549-1877. The entry deadline is August 1.
United States out front in critical technologies
The United States continues to lead the world or is on a par with other nations in 27 critical technological fields. So reports the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The agency considers technologies critical if they advance American prosperity or security. The findings: The nation is far ahead in communications and information fields, especially in computer hardware and software. U.S.-developed operating systems for personal computers are "the world standard," says the agency. The United States also enjoys a lead in food, medicine, agriculture and biotechnology. Japan comes closest to the United States in manufacturing technology. It is rapidly narrowing wide gaps in aviation and four other areas. Europe is closest to America in energy technology. Both Japan and Europe are paring down a "slight" U.S. advantage in some environmental technologies. Japan, Europe and the United States are about even in development of electric vehicles. The United States, however, is clearly the front-runner in advanced batteries.
Testing, certification too costly, study says
A fresh study supports what many design engineers have long contended: The nation's system for testing and certifying that products meet various standards is too costly and burdensome. The judgment comes from a committee of the National Research Council, the main operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. "Manufacturers increasingly are being forced to retest their products and obtain repetitive certifications so they can market products in different parts of the country," says committee chairman Gary C. Hufbauer, a fellow at the Institute for International Economics, Washington, DC. "Instead of running a gauntlet, products should be able to be tested once, certified once, and sold anywhere." Test laboratories pay unnecessary fees and undergo duplicate audits, the report adds. The panel recommends that the federal government immediately begin to turn over its 84 conformity assessment activities to private services. It also calls for an end--within 10 years--to duplicate tests and certifications of products at state and local levels.
Software aids output and use of technical reports, manuals
A new computer program makes it easier to compose, distribute and use electronic manuals for your products. askSam Systems of Perry, FL, showed its Electronic Publisher at the recent FOSE '95 exposition of information technology in Washington, DC. The software contains a full copy of the data organizer ask- SamŽ for Windows. It also has a viewing program that you can include for free with every document you send out electronically. Users at computers thus have access to askSam searches, reports, and hypertext features. Phil Schnyder, askSam's president, tells Design News that engineers should find Electronic Publisher especially useful for relaying technical data downloaded from the Internet.