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Washington beat

Washington beat

Clinton budget would decrease R&D funds, increase patent fees

The Administration's budget request for fiscal year 2000 would reduce federal R&D funding by 1% from the FY 1999 level. When adjusted for expected inflation, projected decreases are almost 3% in FY 2000 and nearly 8% from FY 1999 to FY 2004. Though rising 1.8% in FY 2000, real-term spending on non-defense R&D--excluding funds for equipment and facilities--will fall more than 2% by FY 2004. For every dollar rise in non-defense R&D, defense R&D loses almost two dollars in FY 2000. Within four years, non-defense R&D will surpass military R&D. The biggest gain for military research in the budget is a request for $139 billion for a prototype test of a space-based laser. However, the budget, when adjusted for inflation, cuts funding for research in civilian space projects. It also proposes raising the fees for patents 2%, or $20 million.

Modern design methods crucial for future defense manufacturing

"A new, more powerful design environment is evolving," and defense manufacturing must take full advantage of it. That is the conclusion of a study by the Board on Manufacturing and Engineering Design of the National Research Council. Future needs for rapid changes in weaponry, it says, will demand the capacity to predict the performance and manufacturability of products early in the design process. The focus will have to shift to simulation-based designs. Models of defense products, manufacturing processes, and life-cycle performance and algorithms for design tradeoffs must be developed. For the full report, "Defense Manufacturing in 2010 and Beyond: Meeting the Changing Needs of National Defense," phone the National Academy Press at (800) 624-6242.

National Academy of Engineering elects designers to membership

Prominent designers are among the 80 newest members of the National Academy of Engineering. Included are: President G. Ken Austin, Jr., A-dec Inc. (Newberg, OR), for inventing, designing, and manufacturing innovative dental equipment systems and facilities; Alan H. Epstein, professor of aeronautics and astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for measurements in turbomechanics and for conception and development of smart engines and microengines; Stanley Hiller, Jr., founder, Hiller Aviation Museum (San Carlos, CA), for leadership in helicopter development; Howard S. Jones, Jr., retired chief of microwave research, Harry Diamond Labs, for the invention and development of antennas and microwave components for missiles and spacecraft; Ronald K. Leonard, retired director, John Deere Worldwide Tractor and Component Engineering, for contributions to the design and manufacturing of cotton harvesters, lawn and garden machines, and agricultural tractors; and Bernard I. Robertson, senior vice president, engineering technologies, DaimlerChrysler Corp. (Auburn Hills, MI) for technical contributions and leadership in the design and manufacture of highly reliable and affordable vehicles and their powertrains. For more in-depth information on these recipients and the academy, phone Deborah Brandt at (202) 334-2262.

Creative luggage rack for trains wins aluminum design contest

An innovative module rack for train luggage features side-by-side and snap-lock connections. It won the $2,000 grand prize in the biennial International Aluminum Extrusion De-sign Competition sponsored by the Aluminum Assn. (Washington, DC). Using aluminum alloy AAW-6060, Teuvo Lavonen of Finland's Jukova Oy designed the rack to assemble easily and install without blocking lighting, air conditioning, or loudspeakers. Don Iannucci, senior design engineer at Double "E" Co. (West Bridgewater, MA) takes the $500 second prize for his body and leaf shaft extrusion for the pneumatic core shaft used in the paper and converting industry. Among other winning designs: an ultralight aluminum vehicle seat, a heater for a transportation switchboard cabinet, and a machined plate extrusion for an auto-tracking spectrophotometer. The association will display the top designs on its web site at

Government will issue patents within four weeks of fee payment

By July, patents will be issued within four weeks after payment of the issue fee, instead of the current average of three months. So promise officials of the Patent and Trademark Office trying to streamline the processing of patent applications. In the past, the electronic capture of information to be printed in a patent didn't begin until inventors paid the issue fee and filed formal drawings. Under a new process, capture of most of that information will start as soon as the Office of Patent Publication receives an allowed application. That is well before the issue fee is paid. Phone Charles Hall at (703) 305-8354 or e-mail him at [email protected].

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