Every day, design engineers everywhere are working on projects that often represent technological breakthroughs. Some make headlines. And although many of them do not, their efforts frequently result in new products and technologies that have a profound impact on society as a whole.
Now is your opportunity to help Design News honor the engineering profession, by selecting one individual whose substantial technical contributions are helping to make the world a better place. The ten engineers profiled here are our nominees to be the next Design News Engineer of the Year. Each has already made an impact in a specific industry or technology through his or her gifted engineering skills, leadership, and determination.
We invite you to vote for one nominee to receive the Engineer of the Year honor and public recognition for his or her remarkable accomplishments. To vote, see your issue of Design News for a voting form. The winner you select will be the subject of the cover story of our March 11, 2002 issue and will be honored at our Engineering Achievement Awards Banquet on March 19, 2002 at the Ritz Carlton in Chicago, during National Manufacturing Week. The winner will also designate an engineering school to receive a $25,000 grant in his or her name, courtesy of the Torrington Co.
On a street corner in Manhattan in 1973, Martin Cooper of Motorola made the first cellular phone call—to his rival at Bell Labs. While at Motorola, Cooper built and ran the company's paging and cellular businesses and served as corporate director of R&D. Today, as co-founder of ArrayComm (his fifth start-up), Cooper is continuing to revolutionize the telecomm industry by "squeezing more stuff into the broadband spectrum." The company's I-BURST™ technology offers wireless data rates of 1 Mbps per second to hundreds of simultaneous users per cell, while precisely targeting transmission recipients. Cooper holds seven patents and is an inaugural member of the Wireless Hall of Fame.
It took talented aerospace engineer/industrial designer Doug Frasher to give Volvo's classic boxy shape some curvy new aerodynamic lines. Concept design chief at Volvo's California-based design center, he was responsible for the good looks on the practical package of the company's flagship S80 sedan—a car that was the genesis of Volvo's revamped vehicle lineup. By going to front-wheel drive, the low-drag shape he designed not only provided greater fuel economy, but maintained a robust, safe vehicle with extra room for passengers and cargo. The layout also allowed for easy adoption of all-wheel drive.
With nearly 35 patents to his name, Dr. John Karidis, a distinguished engineer with IBM, has focused his engineering, software, and industrial design skills on making sure mobile and desktop computers bend to the user's work habits rather than the other way around. Among Karidis' innovations: the mechanical design for the ThinkPad TransNote, whose flexible cover combines an ultra-thin mobile computer with a digitizing pad, and IBM's famous "butterfly" keyboard, a folding design that helped shrink the size of mobile computers without shrinking the size of the keys. Karidis previously worked on a wide range of projects for IBM Research, including the development of electro-magnetic actuators for the world's fastest impact matrix printer.
As head of a NASA-wide program ensuring mission battery reliability, Senior Battery Engineer Michelle Manzo's leadership efforts have resulted in a significant improvement in the life and performance of batteries for aerospace applications. She played an instrumental role in the ground-breaking decision for NASA to fly nickel-hydrogen batteries in low earth orbit onboard the Hubble Space Telescope. Those
Ni-H2 batteries have now operated in space continuously for more than 11 years. Manzo's efforts have earned her the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and the R&D 100 Award, as well as numerous professional achievement awards.
Microcomputers—based on miniaturized, increasingly sophisticated processors—have changed the way we live, communicate, and learn. Considered by many to be the father of the modern computer processor, Pohlman led development of Intel's x86 processor family, as well as founding the company's 960 RISC processor business. The holder of several patents, Pohlman worked for Intel for 19 years, retiring in 1999 as vice president and director of development efficiency for the Microprocessor Development Group. Since retiring, Pohlman became chairman of the board and CTO for Primarion, an electronics company focusing on the energy demands of microprocessors.
As a newly minted mechanical engineering graduate from Penn State in 1970, Gerson Rosenberg was part of the team that designed the university's first heart-assist pump. The pneumatic device is now a commercial product used by more than 1,000 patients. Since that time, he has led a team of engineers from Penn State's Artificial Organs Div. developing the world's first completely implantable heart-assist device, which recently began clinical trials in Europe and the U.S. Rosenberg is also the engineering force behind a completely implantable artificial heart currently being commercialized. Both devices are permanent implants designed to prolong the life of hundreds of thousands of people diagnosed with terminal heart failure each year.
Thanks to the pioneering efforts of Texas Instruments Fellow Ray Simar and his cross-functional team, applications ranging from huge base stations to tiny 3G cell phones have access to the maximum calculating power per Watt, by way of the C6000 digital signal processor.
Heralded as "the fastest DSP ever created," the C6000 relies on Simar's deep submicron-scale architecture, which permits a greater number of functional units per chip. Currently the Advanced Architecture Development Manager for DSP technology at TI, Simar continues to push the envelope in new applications for the 3-year-old DSP technology, including broadband wireless, Voice over Internet, and medical imaging. He holds more than 10 patents in DSP technology.
As the executive director of Ford's manufacturing operations, Stevens oversees the company's North American assembly plants, making her one of the highest-ranking women in the auto industry. She has led product development teams for three European models—the Ka, Fiesta, and Puma, and served as business planner and in marketing jobs. Stevens' cross-functional engineering career started at Ford in the mid-70s, when she graduated from Drexel University with degrees in mechanical and materials engineering. "Some people believe 'if you're not like me and don't think like me, then you don't add value,'" she says. Stevens specifically seeks out opportunities to mentor engineers who don't fit the dominant cultural mold.
Driving a car is now a safer experience, thanks to the efforts of mechanical engineer Tom Vos. Dating back to his early work on GM's Inflatable Restraints Program back in the late 1960s, he has been a leading force behind occupant safety systems for automobiles. Director of Safety Systems Technology at TRW for the past 16 years, Vos has developed and directed the course of the company's safety products through his leadership and technical acumen. A holder of 12 patents in restraint design and manufacturing innovation, Vos has overseen the development and introduction of emergency locking retractors, seat belt pretensioners, air bag technology, and most recently, integrated safety systems that incorporate the entire air bag, belt, sensors, and electronics.
Thanks largely to electrical engineer Rob Younge, robots could soon be as prevalent in operating rooms as anesthesia. The co-founder of Intuitive Surgical Inc., Younge led the team that developed the daVinci™, the only robotic surgical system to receive FDA clearance. Already in use for thoracoscopic and laparoscopic procedures, the device recently received FDA approval for prostate removal and could someday be used in heart bypass operations. Doctors could use the device in some 3.5 million operations a year in the U.S. alone, enjoying the benefits of more precise movement of surgical instruments, less fatigue, and elimination of hand tremor.