Because automotive news coverage over the past few years has focused so heaviliy on hybrid technology, I was recently surprised to learn that a new documentary about electric cars was released into video on November 14th. Titled "Who Killed the Electric Car?," the film looks at the reasons behind the demise of pure electrics, paricularly GM's EV1. Narrated by actor Martin Sheen and packed with snippets from such Hollywood stars as Mel Gibson, Ed Begley Jr., Phyllis Diller, and Tom Hanks, the film has a decidely environmentalist bent to it, and hints strongly at an oil-auto-and-government conspiracy. The underlying message — that the electric vehicle was a great technology undermined by greedy oil executives and stodgy automakers — comes across clearly, thanks to some clever and entertaining filmmaking.
Still, entertainment and technology make strange bedfellows, which is why we'd like to her from those of you who've seen the movie. We'll be posting a column about it in the next few days. Until then, let us know your thoughts: Was the film fair? Honest? Technically accurate? If you haven't seen it, we recommend that you pick up a copy at the local video store, mull it over, and take a seat at your trusty word processor. Use this space to post comments and, as always, feel free to let loose. –Chuck Murray
The question of whether engineers could have foreseen the shortcut maintenance procedures that led to the crash of American Airlines Flight 191 in 1979 will probably linger for as long as there is an engineering profession.
More than 35 years later, the post-mortem on one of the country’s worst engineering disasters appears to be simple. A contractor asked for a change in an original design. The change was approved by engineers, later resulting in a mammoth structural collapse that killed 114 people and injured 216 more.
If you’re an embedded systems engineer whose analog capabilities are getting a little bit rusty, then you’ll want to take note of an upcoming Design News Continuing Education Center class, “Analog Design for the Digital World,” running Monday, Nov. 17 through Friday, Nov. 21.
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.