An informal survey of some big engineering companies reveals that a down economy and security concerns are keeping more engineers tied to their desks these days. Many firms say they have restrictions in place, allowing travel only when it involves meeting with customers or other essential can't-be-done-over-the-web-or-phone activities. Texas Instruments, for example, clamped down on nonessential travel two years ago as a cost-savings measure. Recently, it has started to further restrict travel based on security issues and foreign travel advisories. But once the economy perks up, don't reach for your carry-on bag. E-learning, video conferences, and collaborative tools are gaining traction as effective alternatives to travel.
The Beam Store from Suitable Technologies is managed by remote workers from places as diverse as New York and Sydney, Australia. Employees attend to store visitors through Beam Smart Presence Systems (SPSs) from the company. The systems combine mobility and video conferencing and allow people to communicate directly from a remote location via a screen as well as move around as if they are actually in the room.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
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.