Most economists agree that the “Great Recession” of 2008 ended sometime around August 2009, and while the economy has been slowly recovering, unemployment still appears to be a stubborn problem. The headline rate is just a shade under 8 percent, which translates into a little over 12 million Americans out of work.
It is a phenomenon that is referred to with a catchy rhyme: “the brain drain.” Older workers are leaving companies, taking their experience and knowledge with them. And, for various reasons, the reservoir is not being refilled at the same rate. Knowledge leaves, and the tank threatens to go dry.
This is not an article about the environment. This is not an article about oil. This is an article about the long-term future of human civilization. Are you with me so far? Are you in favor of human civilization having a future, not just for another hundred years, but for thousands ... tens of thousands?
As a former local elected official, I know that tax revenues need to come from somewhere and that they should be levied on as fair a basis as possible. It’s a delicate balance, one that does not come easily. Government must be responsible in its spending and should not abuse its authority to effect change in the marketplace....
American manufacturing is battling for its vitality right now. Yes, the industry is still a global juggernaut; producing 18.2 percent of all manufactured goods, which tops the list globally (still over half a percent more than China).
More than two decades after the Cable Act of 1992, and almost that long since the Telecommunications Act of 1996, it appears that the sentiment that it’s time for wide-ranging, substantive telecom reform is beginning to coalesce among legislators.
How do we decide which features to include in new products? That’s a great question. If we miss important features or include unnecessary features, customers will reject our products. If we include unexpected and exciting features, though, we can delight customers and jump ahead of the competition.
Over the last few months, the Nobel Prize has generated much controversy—again. More than 3,000 scientists contributed to the most high profile science event of 2012: the discovery of the Higgs boson subatomic particle. Yet the Nobel can only be split between three laureates. Was the Nobel Prize finally obsolete, the press fretted, in one angst-ridden blog after another?
We all know the cliché regarding the robot apocalypse – we’ve even taken a few stabs at it on the Engineering Newswire. As we broach the crest of technology that operates upon the barrier between autonomous and thinking, it is easy to see the inevitability of crossing over. Immersing ourselves in a world not far off from Futurama, where robots have personalities and rights (sort of).
Too easily, we forget that we should also examine how we achieve those occasional perfect outcomes. As we immerse ourselves in continuous process improvement, we get in the habit of tearing down and examining everything that doesn’t meet expectations, go according to plan, or work efficiently enough.
That slick email from the Nigerian prince promising fabulous riches just might originate from Peoria, USA. According to research from SophosLabs, the United States of America – home of baseball, apple pie, and spam, apparently – sent 18.3% of the world’s junk mail.
Last June, Google announced a unique device that is supposed to incorporate their technology into your everyday life. In fact, their sights seem to be set on invading every moment your eyes are open with convenient updates, recording capabilities, and, of course, an easy-to-use search engine.
One of the famous line drawings of the artist M. C. Escher portrays a realistically drawn hand holding a pencil. The line drawn by the pen turns out to be the cuff of a shirt sleeve, from which emerges a second hand ... which grows out of the paper somehow and holds a pencil, whose line is the cuff of a shirt sleeve, from which emerges the first hand.
On July 1, 2012, online retail giant Amazon.com began collecting and remitting state sales taxes in Texas. As a small-business owner and president of Houston Jewelry, I can say from experience that this was cause for celebration in the Texas retail community.
Somewhere along the way, it became the norm to give up control of component supply and call it “business improvement.” Re-think the standard mode of buying stuff from others if you can do it yourself.
I assume many of my readers are either engineers or interested in engineering and its effects on society, so what I am about to say may surprise you. It is simply this: Engineers are playing a role in American society that may end American society as we have known it up to now. Let me explain.
Pop culture references manufacturing as the factories of the 1800s or modern-day overseas sweatshops — full of mind-numbing, remedial tasks in dark and dingy factories. Today’s manufacturing environments tell a much different story: clean and safe environments with employees managing advanced machinery that drives innovation and productivity.
After every election, there's a mad scramble in Washington over the must-make-it-happen agenda for the newly inaugurated president and Congress. There are welcome signs from the White House's own Material Genome Initiative that securing America's access to critical metals and minerals will be high on the list.
Power has come of age as a defining parameter in electronic systems. Whether maximizing battery life, keeping an enclosure cool, or passing large currents more efficiently, projects now start with power in mind. In 2013, we will see the continued migration of power technologies from research to commercial availability.
This year will see automotive electronics designers approach power management (PM) more like their mobile industry counterparts. While it may seem a fringe concern, the burgeoning security, convenience, connectivity, safety, and infotainment features of tomorrow’s vehicles will drive design and component choices that address standby power consumption.
Obviously, the overwhelming majority of the industry is not in favor of the medical device tax associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare). There are the remote pockets of support within the industry where people say that the tax, as part of the whole picture, will be a positive.
If the United States economy is to restore itself to earlier levels of full employment, prosperity and financial soundness, the American manufacturing community must engage in a national effort to resurrect its global competitiveness.
Friday’s announcement of Path's settlement is illustrative of the way regulation works when you're trying to safeguard consumers from technology that the regulators themselves don't understand. It's also the way regulation works when you're trying to drum up press that illustrates how you catch the bad guys and make them pay.
The world is positively aglow with rapidly changing technology trends in solid state lighting (SSL) LEDs. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), costs dropped by a third in 2011 to about $12 per thousand lumens and will be on their way down to $2 per thousand lumens by 2015 (Strategies Unlimited, August 2012).
The established solar architecture based on 12V photovoltaic panels, batteries, charge controllers, and inverters will continue to give way to grid-tied inverter architectures. This approach to harvesting solar energy brings with it a lot of key benefits.