To celebrate the end of the century, we listed in the February 1, 1999 issue of Design News the major breakthroughs of the last one hundred years in aerospace engineering. Next up: the engineering accomplishments in that other major technology driver, the automotive industry. Among the major automotive-engineering milestones:
1901--Olds' Curved Dash Runabout, the first car built on a progressive assembly line. 1908--The Model T offers left-hand-side steering.
1911--Charles Kettering develops the electric self starter.
1915--The Dodge brothers launch a new car with an all-steel body.
1928--Cadillac introduces 165-mph V-16 engine.
1938--Bosch Corp. applies for first ABS patent.
1940--Olds has first automatic transmission.
1952--Olds, Cadillac, and Buick offer power steering.
1964--Olds Toronado is first U.S. car with front-wheel drive since 1937.
1967--VW debuts electronic fuel injection.
1978--GM uses first automotive microprocessor in a trip-mileage computer.
1986--Corvette is first U.S. car with anti-lock brake system.
1996--GM introduces the EV1.
These are some of the technical breakthroughs in the automotive world. Naturally, there were plenty of other developments in that vibrant industry which has so thoroughly defined our modern society. Some are personal. For example, who could forget their first car? Mine was a 1952 Dodge with fluid drive (no, I wasn't 16 in 1952, I just bought an old car!). Fluid-drive technology was a precursor to fully automatic transmissions: If you didn't want to shift--or weren't good with a clutch--it would change gears on its own without stalling or bucking. Great for impressing other teenagers with my "advanced" driving skills. The technology has had a rebirth of sorts in Chrysler's AutoStick® Transmission Control System, which, though certainly different from fluid drive, lets the driver override the transmission's computerized logic and change from automatic to manual.
Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
In 2003, the world contained just over 500 million Internet-connected devices. By 2010, this figure had risen to 12.5 billion connected objects, almost six devices per individual with access to the Internet. Now, as we move into 2015, the number of connected 'things' is expected to reach 25 billion, ultimately edging toward 50 billion by the end of the decade.
NASA engineer Brian Trease studied abroad in Japan as a high school student and used to fold fast-food wrappers into cranes using origami techniques he learned in library books. Inspired by this, he began to imagine that origami could be applied to building spacecraft components, particularly solar panels that could one day send solar power from space to be used on earth.
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.