Forget fuel cells. Plastics are where it's at for automotive innovations. The American Plastics Council (www.americanplasticscouncil.org) says the average North American car will have 142 kg of plastic by 2009, compared to 117 kg in 1999. Keep your eye out for: all-plastic radiators to accommodate lower and flatter front ends; integrated front ends where one plastic module will cover the first third of the vehicle; and snap-in interior instrument panels with molded-in electronics.
The new composites manufacturing innovation center is intended to be a source of grand challenges for industry, like the kind that got us to the moon under JFK. These aren't the words its new CEO Craig Blue used, but that's the idea and the vision behind the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI).
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.