You gotta love America's obession with racing. I always find it hard to believe that NASCAR consistently ranks No. 1 in terms of viewer participation compared with other professional sports. The upside is, as this slide show well points out, there are lots of engineering takeways in tuning performance and on-the-fly design.
As an engineer, I am definitely fascinated by the racing world. With NASCAR, who knew? I thought they put big motors in regular cars and raced around. WRONG! These machines are really something else, not only the engines themselves but the chassis, balance, shocks, tires, fuel, safety systems, and so on. Indy cars and Formula One are really outta this world when it comes to electronics and sensors.
That's part of the reason I like to go see the races in person, to view the race cars up close, as well as the pit stop area. I've already been to the NASCAR Cup race this year at AutoClub Speedway in Fontana, California. I'll probably be going to the IndyCar season finale at the same 2-mile banked-turn oval track this September. A top level professional sports event is an all-day affair since there's so much besides the actual race.
The revolution of race car safety in the last 12 years is very impressive. That's a big part of the engineering since the cars are more than powerful enough and fast. Reliability has also greatly improved, not nearly as many mechanical failures these days.
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.