Dick "Spe" Spehalski leads the engineers who designed the most complex interplanetary spacecraft ever created: Cassini. The spacecraft--including its orbiter and Huygens probe to the moon Titan--is currently winging its way towards a rendezvous with Saturn in 2004. But for five years prior to its October '97 launch, Spehalski championed the mission past cancellation threats by cutting weight, lowering power requirements, and putting the project back on track. And when it came to resolving complex engineering issues with the project's 16 international partners, Spehalski was the man everyone turned to. This isn't the first time NASA tapped him to lead one of the agency's flagship programs; he also served as project manager for the Galileo mission to Jupiter. Following a term as project manager for the Space Infrared Telescope Facility, Spehalski retired in June 1998, but not before NASA awarded him its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal.
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.