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Articles from 2014 In June


15 Engineering Disciplines by Salary & Job Prospects

<p><b>Industrial Engineering</b></p> The BLS expects employment of industrial engineers to grow 6% from 2010 to 2020. Mean salaries are $83,000, while top earners are getting $119,000. Since industrial engineers can help with cost control by increasing ef

Here's a snapshot of the salaries and job prospects for engineering careers by discipline. These numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that some professions such as biomedical engineering will see growth as high as 62% through 2020, while many others such as aerospace engineering and chemical engineering will see growth rates well below 10%. For most of these disciplines, job prospects will be bolstered by the retiring baby boomers combined with low graduation rates.

As for salaries, petroleum engineers are enjoying relative prosperity with a mean salary of $149,000 and top-rung earnings of $186,000. At the low end on the salary spectrum, the industrial engineer is seeing a mean of $83,000, with top earnings at $123,000.

Click on the image below to see how engineers in other disciplines are faring.

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15 Engineering Disciplines by Salary & Job Prospects

15 Engineering Disciplines by Salary &amp; Job Prospects

Here's a snapshot of the salaries and job prospects for engineering careers by discipline. These numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that some professions such as biomedical engineering will see growth as high as 62% through 2020, while many others such as aerospace engineering and chemical engineering will see growth rates well below 10%. For most of these disciplines, job prospects will be bolstered by the retiring baby boomers combined with low graduation rates.

As for salaries, petroleum engineers are enjoying relative prosperity with a mean salary of $149,000 and top-rung earnings of $186,000. At the low end on the salary spectrum, the industrial engineer is seeing a mean of $83,000, with top earnings at $123,000.

Click on the image below to see how engineers in other disciplines are faring.

Related posts:

Toyota's FCV Fuel Cell Sedan -- First Look

Known for now as the FCV, the new vehicle will offer a range of about 420 miles, will recharge in about three minutes, and will cost about 7 million yen ($69,000). Sales are scheduled to begin before April 2015 in Japan, followed by the US and Europe in June.

Toyota unveiled the vehicle at a press conference last week in which it traced the history of the automobile and made the case for hydrogen's role in a "new period of diversity" in transportation. The company contended that hydrogen compares favorably to other fuel sources (including batteries, biofuels, and natural gas) in all areas except dedicated infrastructure.

Toyota's fuel cell vehicle will offer a driving range of about 420 miles.
(Source: Toyota Motor Corp.)

During the hour-long introduction, Toyota made a special effort to cite the shortcomings of battery-electric vehicles, especially with regard to driving range and refueling time. "Toyota considers that the EV is a vehicle that is best suited for particular purposes, such as short-range traveling and fleet use," executive vice president Mitsuhisa Kato told the audience.

Toyota offers the battery-powered RAV4 EV, but only in very limited numbers. The company has repeatedly contended that plug-in hybrid vehicles make more sense than pure EVs for a broad swath of consumers.

Because last week's introduction was meant only as a peek at the new vehicle's exterior, few technical details were offered. Kato did say that Toyota has made numerous improvements in the technology over the past few years, including a 20% boost in hydrogen tank storage density. Also, the number of onboard storage tanks has been cut from four to two.

Toyota introduced its FCV at a press conference last week and plans for the vehicle to go on sale in 2015.
(Source: Toyota Motor Corp.)

Toyota's announcement followed on the heels of the lease of Hyundai's first hydrogen-powered car, the Tucson Fuel Cell, a few weeks ago. Hyundai leases the Tucson for $499 a month and plans to build about 1,000 of them by the end of 2015. Similarly, Honda has said it is hatching plans to launch a hydrogen-powered production car in 2015.

Industry analysts say that much work remains before fuel cells can compete with battery-electric cars, let alone gasoline-burning ones. Refueling stations are virtually nonexistent in most parts of the country, making it almost impossible for automakers to sell the vehicles in many locales. Also, the vehicles and hydrogen fuel still too much for most consumers.

"The vehicles need to get to a price point of about $30,000," Cosmin Laslau of Lux Research told us recently. For the average consumer, fuel cell vehicles are still not a viable option in the near term, he said.

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Toyota's FCV Fuel Cell Sedan -- First Look

Toyota&#039;s FCV Fuel Cell Sedan -- First Look

Toyota Motor Corp. made its case for a hydrogen-powered future last week by revealing the exterior of a fuel cell sedan that will go on sale in 2015.

Known for now as the FCV, the new vehicle will offer a range of about 420 miles, will recharge in about three minutes, and will cost about 7 million yen ($69,000). Sales are scheduled to begin before April 2015 in Japan, followed by the US and Europe in June.

Toyota unveiled the vehicle at a press conference last week in which it traced the history of the automobile and made the case for hydrogen's role in a "new period of diversity" in transportation. The company contended that hydrogen compares favorably to other fuel sources (including batteries, biofuels, and natural gas) in all areas except dedicated infrastructure.

During the hour-long introduction, Toyota made a special effort to cite the shortcomings of battery-electric vehicles, especially with regard to driving range and refueling time. "Toyota considers that the EV is a vehicle that is best suited for particular purposes, such as short-range traveling and fleet use," executive vice president Mitsuhisa Kato told the audience.

Toyota offers the battery-powered RAV4 EV, but only in very limited numbers. The company has repeatedly contended that plug-in hybrid vehicles make more sense than pure EVs for a broad swath of consumers.

Because last week's introduction was meant only as a peek at the new vehicle's exterior, few technical details were offered. Kato did say that Toyota has made numerous improvements in the technology over the past few years, including a 20% boost in hydrogen tank storage density. Also, the number of onboard storage tanks has been cut from four to two.

Toyota's announcement followed on the heels of the lease of Hyundai's first hydrogen-powered car, the Tucson Fuel Cell, a few weeks ago. Hyundai leases the Tucson for $499 a month and plans to build about 1,000 of them by the end of 2015. Similarly, Honda has said it is hatching plans to launch a hydrogen-powered production car in 2015.

Industry analysts say that much work remains before fuel cells can compete with battery-electric cars, let alone gasoline-burning ones. Refueling stations are virtually nonexistent in most parts of the country, making it almost impossible for automakers to sell the vehicles in many locales. Also, the vehicles and hydrogen fuel still too much for most consumers.

"The vehicles need to get to a price point of about $30,000," Cosmin Laslau of Lux Research told us recently. For the average consumer, fuel cell vehicles are still not a viable option in the near term, he said.

Related posts:

Storage Technique Brings Plastic Computers 1 Step Closer

Storage Technique Brings Plastic Computers 1 Step Closer

Plastic computers are the talk of the town as some designers look to flexible displays and low-power computing devices. Theoretically, it is possible to create these devices, and much of the logic is already there. However, important parts of basic computing such as reading data, writing data, and power management still need to be worked out. Have they been conquered?

Now, plastic computing is one step closer thanks to researchers from the University of Iowa. In collaboration with researchers from New York University, the team has put together a research paper published in Nature Communications. The paper brings us one step closer to plastic computers by describing a method to convert magnetic storage data into optical transmission data.

The method described within the paper uses the magnetic fields of the storage itself to directly modify light emitted from an organic light emitting diode (OLED). Traditionally, converting the magnetic data to optical data would require lots of energy. However, the researchers were able to devise a method for converting the data, which does not use any additional energy. From their work they have found that the magnetic field of the storage produces enough energy to excite an OLED and consequently produce photons.

Current methods used for data transfer in silicon computers would be too inefficient for their plastic counterparts. In addition, converting magnetic storage data into optical transmission data allows the data transmission process to be highly energy efficient. Therefore, the technique of converting magnetic data to optical transmission data seems to be the most optimal solution.

Not all computers will be made of plastic components in the future. Instead, plastic components have an advantage for certain applications. For example, it has already been shown that there is a need for flexible electronics. These consist of organic electronic components such as OLEDs and organic field effect transistors (OFET). While they do not possess the high performance characteristics of silicon components, they can offer ultra-low-power consumption or the possibility of cheap "throw away" electronics.

While there is still much research to be done regarding plastic computers, reading data from magnetic storage is a big step forward. The team also noted that the studies were conducted on a large devices. So testing will still need to be done on smaller devices. However, the team remains optimistic that they will see consistent results.

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Design Renaissance in Manufacturing

Design Renaissance in Manufacturing

The combination of technology for the manufacturing process and technology for design tools has changed the very nature of how products are designed and produced.

For one thing, computers used for design don't need software. In a setup often called Web 2.0, design tools reside in the cloud, not on the design engineer's computer. In another shift, specialty design companies are beginning to offer pre-engineering review of products to help the brand owner determine whether the product is even worth engineering. The analysis examines materials and financial feasibility and creates a "producability index." The process can cut design-to-production time while helping companies ditch infeasible products early.

Cloud-based design tools are changing the nature of the design team itself. The cloud is supporting distributed teams that are becoming a blend of employees, outside engineers, specialists, and semi-retired engineers, all collaborating from locations around the world. The results of this collaboration can be measured in reduced design and manufacturing costs, as well as higher-quality designs. (Check out our on-demand webinar, "How to Choose the Right Modeling Software"for more information.)

Cutting time in the design cycle
To speed design while utilizing new materials and processes, some companies and military groups are turning to outside specialists to plan, design, and even conduct the design process.

"Our role is to make sure people get the jobs done. We help with the processes and the products to get the job out the door. We work for manufacturing readiness, getting right the first time, and decreasing complexity," Sandy Munro, CEO of the design firm Munro and Associates, told us. "We're doing manufacturing at the concept stage and sometimes the pre-manufacturing stage. On average, we can cut the program time by about a third. We can cut five years of development down to three."

Coping with new materials is one of the challenges that can slow a project down. Munro helps customers manage the process of evaluating these materials using cost and structural analysis.

"One of the big trends in design is we're moving toward lightweighting. Meeting automotive CAFE standards is one of the reasons," he said. "People are trying to put their best foot forward on lightweight, and not just for vehicles. The military is also huge on this."

Weight requirements can force companies into exotic materials. As a service to its customers, Munro and Associates keeps up on developments in new materials. "A lot of our customers are looking to reduce weight and do it at a relatively low cost. With new materials, you can produce a product that is half the weight and equal the strength. We're seeing more carbon fiber" -- and not the same carbon fiber used on airplanes. "We're seeing a newer style that can be used for injection molding."

Small-scale manufacturing using 3D printing techniques is another important new tool in the design for manufacturing process. "Additive manufacturing machines expand on prototyping. The defense industry is on the ragged edge of this development, but it's also showing up in specialty medical and aircraft," Dan McCarthy, design prophet at Munro, told us. "In the Navy, they don't want to have 10,000 replacement parts on the ship. So they put an additive manufacturing machine on the ship. They can make their own machine tool replacement parts."

Gears in Motion Control Systems

Gears in Motion Control Systems

Gears provide two main functions in motion control systems. In power systems, they match the relatively low-speed, high-torque requirement of the load to the high-speed, low-torque, high-efficiency operation of the motor. Precision systems focus on transmitting motion as accurately and as repeatedly as possible, as needed in robotic systems.

When the lessons of achieving higher precision are applied to power systems, greater efficiency, lower noise, and longer life can be achieved. As stronger and more wear-resistant materials and better lubricants are continually being developed, there is an ever-present need for new gears to be designed to pack more power into less space.

In addition, micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) researchers are creating gears to solve the same problems that they face in the macro world. World-renowned MIT design educator Alex Slocum relates an interesting anecdote. When a student design team was asked how their human-powered system was going to generate the required 600W power, when a human can only comfortably continuously generate about 100W, they replied "we will use gears." The Laws of Thermodynamics still apply, even to gears!

The most frequently used gearings in high-performance, closed-loop servo systems are spur gearing and planetary gearing. In spur gearing, the smaller gear is usually mounted on the input shaft and the larger gear is connected to the output shaft. A single pass is usually applicable to no more than a 15:1 ratio. Larger ratios are accomplished by using more passes.

One deficiency of the basic spur gear design is that in its simplest configuration, the input and output shafts are not in line. Multi-pass unit design overcomes this. Precision spur gearing is available with 98% efficiency up to a 100:1 ratio. Planetary gearing is a unique arrangement in which a set of four gears concentrically arranged around an in-line input/output shaft alignment is capable of providing much higher torque capacity in the same volume as a spur gear assembly. The three planet gears are driven by the sun gear (input) and are captured by the ring gear, which is machined into the gearhead housing. The three planets are in turn mounted on a spider assembly whose center becomes the output shaft. Planetary gears can be fabricated in a multi-pass arrangement.

In approximately the same volume, the planetary gearing, compared to the spur gearing, can provide five to six times the torque, has a bearing structure that can support an average of 30 times the axial load and 15 times the radial load, and has an average of one-fifth the backlash (the angle through which the shaft is rotated under the condition of no transmitted torque).

One doesn't have to look at complex machinery to find innovative gearing design. The Rohloff Bicycle Speedhub is a planetary gear system. It has a gear range of 526% and the 14 gears shift in even increments of 13.6%. Machine design will never cease to provide opportunities for innovative-thinking engineers.

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Slideshow: Tokyo Museum Features Eerily Human Robot Guides

Indeed, Japan already has restaurants that feature robotic wait staff and has produced plays with robot actors, evidence of its early adoption of allowing robots to interact closely with humans.

Up until now these robots have seemed fairly machine-like in their appearance; there’s no question that even while they are interacting with humans, they are definitely not people themselves.

But a museum in Tokyo is pushing the boundary between humans and robots even further with the use of humanoid robot guides that look, move, and speak eerily like humans themselves.

The Miraikan museum, or the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, is featuring a new permanent exhibition of humanoid robots that will perform greeting and guiding duties at the museum. The unusually lifelike robots are the work of a Japanese robotics expert, Hiroshi Ishiguro, who has his own lab within Advanced Telecommunications Research (ATR) Institute International.

Ishiguro is an ATR fellow and world-class robotics engineer who’s been designing robots for 20 years. His robots are well known for being close to human in appearance; he’s even created one using himself as a model that he’s sent to give lectures in his absence.

Three of Ishiguro’s robots are featured at the museum to foster human interaction: Kodomoroid, a child android; Otonaroid, an adult female android; and Telenoid, an android without individual physical human features.

Kodomoroid and Otonaroid will act as guides at the museum, greeting and talking with people who visit. Specifically, Kodomoroid, which is controlled remotely, will announce news and information about the museum and its exhibits to visitors, while Otonaroid will strike up conversations with people who approach it. Telenoid will be on display for people to see and experience up close.

Click on the photo below to see the robots on display at Miraikan, as well as some of the other eerily realistic humanoid robots developed by HIL.

Kodomoroid, a very human-like child android robot, is the work of Hiroshi Ishiguro and is currently acting as a guide at the Miraikan museum in Tokyo. The robot speaks to visitors of the museum and provides them with information about exhibits and their visit.
(Source: Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International)

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The $250 3D Printer & Custom Cookie Cutter

The $250 3D Printer &amp; Custom Cookie Cutter

As we all know, 3D printing is revolutionizing the way we manufacture products today. Not everyone is excited about the technology, however. While some cloud-based programs and printers support the free transmission of designs and blueprints, others are taking advantage of this plethora of free resources and marketing others' ideas as their own. Is it right? Is it wrong? Let's look at some of the upcoming cloud-based technology and decide for ourselves.

We can't touch on emerging cloud-based 3D-printing technology without first mentioning New Matter. New Matter is a new end-to-end 3D-printing system that seeks to ignite the full incorporation of 3D printing into everyday life. Why send your friend an e-card for a birthday when you can send a 3D design straight to his or her printer, wirelessly? Oh yes. This is about to get good.

The New Matter system encompasses complimentary software, online community swarming with ready-to-print designs, and of course a 3D printer. The MOD-t 3D printer is not just any printer, however. It is simplifying the 3D-printing process, making printing more accessible and affordable for all.

The MOD-t 3D printer is a beautiful piece of machinery. It features innovative printing technology that relies on two axes for printing and support, elegantly encased in a glass box. The new printing method is said to give users better quality and more predictable prints, at a fraction of the cost. The New Matter team is working to give the DC servo motor-powered printer the capability to print 0.1-mm-thick layers, but isn't making any promises.

The MOD-t will retail for $250 for early backers, which includes access to the software, online store, and apps. The online store will allow users to download ready-made 3D prints or buy designer prints made by known artists. If you are the artist, you can sell your creations at the store, too.

New Matter has a vision of creating an online space that makes 3D printing a part of everyday life. Why buy a new pencil holder when you can print it (and customize it, for that matter)? 3D printing brings out the inventor in us all. New matter isn't the only company, however, that's taking 3D printing to the cloud.

Cookie monsters
Cookie Caster is a platform through which people can download and design custom cookie cutters. The cloud-based software takes care of all the back-end stuff, so you just have to worry about baking.

To begin, users can upload an image to cookiecaster.com. The software traces the image and turns it into a print. Exceptionally creative users can draw their very own designs right on the provided drawing board. Efficient shoppers can download any print they like and print as-is or edit.

The great debate
Some companies, such as New Matter and Cookie Caster, believe keeping 3D-printing and design communities open is the obvious choice to unleash the full potential of the technology. Others disagree. While the downloading and sharing of prints on these types of spaces is free, there have allegedly been cases of people taking these designs, rebranding them, and marketing them as their own. Open source or proprietary? You decide.

3D-printing technology is unique in that no one "owns" it. The technology itself is not patented, and anyone who wants to create and market his or her own 3D-printing thingamabobs is free to do so. Although open-source makes new technology open to anyone who wants it (often for free), manufacturing the technology is not free.

The fact of the matter is that most people cannot build their own 3D printers -- at least not ones that can take on MakerBot. So if they want one, they'll need to pay up. In the same breath, those who need 3D prints, but don't have printers of their own, will need to pay someone to print it for them. Even if the owner of the printer doesn't charge them a fee for printing (which is unlikely), the filament and wear on the machine are not free.

This is not a post on economics, but 3D printers are not free because they are not free to manufacture. Nonetheless, what's wrong with a happy medium? If people pay for their printers but they get software such as Autodesk's Spark for free, what's the big deal? The bigger malpractice is probably stealing someone else's work and marketing it as your own, but that's a whole different topic. Be careful printers. The thieves of the night are watching you and your designs.

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Tying Quality Data to the Product Design Record

Tying Quality Data to the Product Design Record

The cloud-based PLM firm Arena Solutions has introduced Arena Quality, a PLM tool that helps the engineering and manufacturing team to rapidly identify, capture, collaborate, and resolve product quality problems. As the auto industry has shown us lately, a quality stitch in time can deliver considerable savings.

Arena Quality connects the quality processes directly to the product record. This provides everyone on the team with complete visibility into quality issues. Engineering, operations, and the supply chain can participate in problem resolution, which can drive continuous improvement. Also, since the quality processes are bound to the product record, users will be audit-ready for ISO, the FDA, and other regulatory organizations.

The importance of quality hit home with manufacturers in the 1980s when Japan's superior quality started to dominate a wide range of market segments, particularly automotive. Today, discrete engineering and manufacturing teams strive for Japanese-style continuous improvement. The goal is to consistently reach ever-higher quality. To accomplish this, companies need ever-stronger quality tools and processes.

Arena Quality was designed to help design engineers increase time to market without sacrificing quality. "We designed Arena Quality so users can create their own form for any quality process by using a templating model," Steve Chalgren, vice president of product management and strategy at Arena Solutions, told Design News. "Users can build the quality templates, assign them to appropriate team members, and add preventive action and corrective action."

The tool is also designed to manage quality issues after production. "You can link your product records to complaints and build a story of the product," Chalgren told us. "Say there is something wrong with the computer. That gets flagged. The next step might be to look for the real cause. It's not really the computer, but the battery. So the battery gets added and flagged. Then you find it's really the recharging circuits." Chalgren noted this process -- basically the five whys -- is embedded in the quality tool. The quality flag remains on the product record until the quality issue has been resolved.

One of the important functions of the tool is to put the details of the problem and the steps to its resolution onto the product record. "You come back two years later and someone who wasn't involved in the design and production of the product can see all of the steps," said Chalgren. "You can read the story and follow it from the computer to the battery to the recharge circuit. We have the full audit trail."

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