@Richardo: I agree that improved design tools aren't enough to ensure a more sustainable mentality when it comes to design, but they can certainly help and ensure the engineer has the data and tools they need to make key decisions along the way. But you're right in pointing out that the real challenge lies within the organizational culture and the vision from top management. Without that, any kind of sustainbility effort is doomed.
> Somehow we need to bridge the thinking and address the disposable society mentality
I doubt if this can be done via improved engineering tools. The push must come from the customer, the evil marketing dept. To change these evildoers might require serious legislation. eg Mandated Warranty and Cost Effective (to the customer) Service support for all electronic, white goods and automatic product for at least 10 yrs.
This might reduce the number of 'designed by monkeys' products which are really 'specified to ridiculous timescales by monkeys' products.
Somehow we need to bridge the thinking and address the disposable society mentality with a sustainable bend to our design tactics. I do think more and more of that is starting to filter into engineers' mind sets.
I think sustainable design starts with thinking things through. We learn that, in theory, in design school but it's rarely put into practice. Our disposable economy has been around for almost a century. It's no wonder that sustainable design has had a difficult time being accepted in the mainstream until now.
It's good to see more tools to help designer/engineers today get back to the basics of thinking things through and creating sustainable design.
This has always been my dream. Capture the energy from a river or a stream for household independence. I certainly will pay attention to Hydrovolts to see how they progress. I would even like to see if they could use another engineer on this project. But I don't think it is so important where it is made. If you do it right, and have the inspiration to think it globally, it might be designed to be made in any country with a minimum of skill.
The other interest of mine is power from the waves. Surely there is money to be made from harnessing it properly. And again, there are a lot of poor countries with coast lines. What a boon to those economies either of these technologies could be. Plus the infrastructure that would have to be built and maintained. It is mind boggling!
The 100% solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 is prepping for its upcoming flight, becoming the first plane to fly around the world without using fuel. It's able to do so because of above-average performance by all of the technologies that go into it, especially materials.
With major product releases coming from big names like Sony, Microsoft, and Samsung, and big investments by companies like Facebook, 2015 could be the year that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) finally pop. Here's take a look back at some of the technologies that got us here (for better and worse).
Good engineering designs are those that work in the real world; bad designs are those that don’t. If we agree to set our egos aside and let the real world be our guide, we can resolve nearly any disagreement.
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.