Coalition formed to help public appreciate role of engineering
The Engineering Alliance is a new group dedicated to improving public recognition of the engineering profession. It also hopes to reverse the declining number of U.S. students pursuing engineering degrees. The American Assn. of Engineering Societies (Washington, DC) spearheads the Alliance. Founders hope to add many engineering schools to the new coalition, now mainly composed of engineering associations. Plans call for "a variety of public awareness and outreach activities." For more information, phone Greg Schuckman at (888) 400-2237 or e-mail him at email@example.com/. ††
Congress, Clinton renew battle over permanent R&D tax credit
The tax credit businesses can take for their spending on R&D is set to expire on June 30. Both the administration and most of congress want to extend its life. The President's budget proposals, however, call for an extension of only one year. Fifty-three trade and professional associations--and more than 1,000 companies--strongly advocate a permanent extension. Congress first enacted the R&D tax credit in 1981 to encourage U.S. firms to step up their R&D investments in America. Special enactments have extended the credit nine times since then. Now, Connecticut Representative Nancy Johnson and California Representative Robert Matsui have introduced legislation to make the credit permanent. The administration opposes the bill as "another tax break for big business." Proponents say the bill will end the "on again, off again uncertainty" that removes the incentive for American high-tech companies to make long term investments in R&D. Murray Gerber, chairman of the Tax and Budget Policy Committee of the National Assn. of Manufacturers, claims that two-thirds of the growth in manufacturing and one-third of the growth in the economy stems from R&D activities.
Tougher design rules aimed at limiting injury in SUV rollovers
Passengers in sport utility vehicles (SUVs) probably need more protection from injuries in rollovers. That's what officials of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say is indicated by their recent crash tests. The agency's administrator, Ricardo Martinez, tells Design News that a number of engineering changes may be needed for SUVs. Future rules could include more stringent standards for roof crush and requirements for advanced glazing for side windows. Government researchers also are studying various seating arrangements and systems that might cut down rollover injuries. Although dummies in SUVs survived rather well from the first shock in side impact tests, three models--a Honda CR-V, an Isuzu Rodeo, and a Kia Sportage--unexpectedly tipped over. The agency is analyzing test-track research it has completed on a number of rollover-inducing maneuvers. It wants to determine which maneuvers might best identify potential problems with SUV stability. More details on government studies of rollovers and SUVs can be found on the Web at www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/studies/LTV/. ††
Study recommends toning down oft-delayed Fastener Quality Act
The Fastener Quality Act of 1990--which has never been implemented--faces acute limitation, if not outright elimination. A report from the Commerce Dept. recommends broad amendments if congress decides to regulate fasteners. The congressionally mandated study concludes that the number and magnitude of problems with fasteners have dropped to a fraction of what they were when the act was created. Among reasons cited: advances since 1990 in fastener manufacturing technology and better procedures for military and federal procurement of fasteners. The report recommends that the act cover only areas in which faulty fasteners might still be a public safety problem, namely "high strength fasteners." It defines them as fasteners possessing a minimum tensile strength of 830 megapascals, that is, 120,000 psi. Fastener manufacturers, the study adds, should be allowed to file reports electronically, relieving them of burdensome paperwork. You can read the complete text of the report on the Internet at www.nist.gov/fqa. ††
Manual updates standards for aluminum extruded products
Designers can now obtain an updated manual of drafting standards for aluminum extruded products. It is the first revision that the Aluminum Assn. (Washington, DC) has made on the manual since 1978. The 44-page publication outlines standard practices for preparing drawings for aluminum profiles, which are sometimes referred to as "shapes." The new edition also includes coverage of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing and standard dimensional tolerances from the current American National Standard. To obtain a copy of the updated manual, phone the association's publication department at (301) 645-0756 and ask for item DSE-2.