Kenji Uchino is a professor of engineering at Penn State who developed a small ultrasonic piezoelectric motor that measures less than 2 mm in diameter and is approximately 4 mm long—about the size of a grain of rice. And unlike piezoelectric motors made with tubes of piezoelectric materials, Uchino's motor is made from aluminum, stainless steel, plastic, and brass tubes. Applications for the motor include medical instruments that are disposable and other devices that have small diameters. Because the motor is non-magnetic, its applications include surgical procedures performed with magnetic resonance imaging. Potential non-medical applications include appliances, computers, and wristwatches. "The inside of a wristwatch is filled with gears because tiny electromagnetic motors spin too fast to directly operate a watch," says Uchino. His motor rotates slower, so watches enabled by his motor could be mechanically simpler, he claims. For more information, send e-mail to email@example.com.
One way to keep a Formula One racing team moving at breakneck speed in the pit and at the test facility is to bring CAD drawings of the racing vehicle’s parts down to the test facility and even out to the track.
Most of us would just as soon step on a cockroach rather than study it, but that’s just what researchers at UC Berkeley did in the pursuit of building small, nimble robots suitable for disaster-recovery and search-and-rescue missions.
Design engineers need to prepare for a future in which their electronic products will use not just one or two, but possibly many user interfaces that involve touch, vision, gestures, and even eye movements.
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