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Should engineers be licensed: A process improvement perspective

May 8, 2013 9:29 am | by Alan Nicol, Executive Member, AlanNicolSolutions | Blogs | Comments

In his article, “Should Engineers Be Licensed,” posted on www.pddnet.com Monday, April 22, Karl Stephen presented an interesting question that generated a great many comments and some debate among readers.  Perhaps a way to answer the question is to answer the question phrased differently.

The web after 20 years: It’s not so different

May 6, 2013 4:23 pm | by Stephanie Carmichael, Contributor | Blogs | Comments

On April 30, the World Wide Web turned 20. Oh, how the years pass us by. When we think about how people use the Internet today, some of us cringe. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pervade every virtual inch, enticing thousands to waste countless hours of their lives....

A tale of two lamps

April 30, 2013 4:19 pm | by Karl Stephan, Consulting Engineer, Texas State University, San Marcos | Blogs | Comments

A few months ago, my wife bought a lamp at an office-supply place to light up the table where my father-in-law plays dominoes with us. He’s 87 and his eyesight isn’t what it used to be, so having lots of light in the right place is important. The ceiling light doesn’t quite do the job.

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‘Internet Of Things’: An opportunity for intelligent device manufacturers

April 29, 2013 3:25 pm | by Steve Schmidt, Vice President of Corporate Development & Strategy, Flexera Software | Blogs | Comments

The “Internet of Things” is a phrase used to describe how the internet will link traditional smart devices, and a wide range of additional physical assets to allow these endpoints to generate and share data. Nearly every product will have an IP address and communication capability — not just networking and telecommunications devices...

Guns are only as ‘smart’ as we are

April 29, 2013 9:48 am | by Stephanie Carmichael, Contributor | Blogs | Comments

I’m uncomfortable with the phrase "smart gun." Maybe that’s because the words make me think of Skynet in Terminator, or the great lesson to man about the dangers of artificial intelligence gussied up in a blockbuster action-movie franchise. While it’s probably not going to rebel and nearly exterminate all of mankind, in the wrong hands, real-world technology can become a tool for evil.

Going through smartphone withdrawal

April 25, 2013 9:34 am | by Meaghan Ziemba, Editor, WDD | Blogs | Comments

I recently attended a concert in Madison, WI. I placed my phone in my back pocket to avoid carrying a purse and to have it easily accessible when I wanted to update my status and snap a few photos. Unfortunately, after a visit to the facilities and a horrifying plop, I knew that I was in trouble.

Please turn out the lights

April 24, 2013 9:18 am | by Krystal Gabert, Editor, Food Manufacturing | Blogs | Comments

When I was a child, my brother and I would play a little game, flipping on light switches and counting the minutes until my dad turned them off. He told us that someday we’d pay the electric bill and he’d have the last laugh, watching us pad around turning out lights just like he had.

Should engineers be licensed?

April 22, 2013 2:20 pm | by Karl Stephan, Consulting Engineer, Texas State University, San Marcos | Blogs | Comments

Not long after I chose electrical engineering as a major in college, someone asked me if I was planning to take the EIT exam. What was that? It stands for “engineer in training” and it is the customary first step in obtaining a Professional Engineer (PE) license. To the best of my recollection, it didn’t cost that much and I went ahead and took it....

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Ubiquitous computing: A gadget for every body part

April 19, 2013 12:50 pm | by Stephanie Carmichael, Contributor | Blogs | Comments

As a culture, we’re obsessed with cool gadgets, and we’ve come a long way from the household coffeemaker. Now we’re creating motion-sense devices that can control others from afar with just a flick of the wrist. Enter the Myo armband, which shows how dependent on technology we’ve become. We want to do everything with one fancy gizmo.

We all need Google Fiber

April 15, 2013 1:16 pm | by Joel Hans, Managing Editor, Manufacturing.net | Blogs | Comments

Almost a year ago, Google launched its first broadband internet network, Google Fiber, in Kansas City (the Kansas and Missouri versions both), with speeds that severely overshadowed currently-available cable and DSL providers for a fraction of the cost. Consumers were able to sign up for 1 gigabit download speeds for a mere $70 a month.

Silicon Valley has nothing on manufacturing

April 12, 2013 5:45 pm | by David Mantey, Executive Editor, PD&D | Blogs | Comments

Manufacturing floors don’t have Lego stations and pool tables — and yes, OSHA may take issue with throwing empty cans from the mini bar into the same bin as the scrap metal from the lathe, but that doesn’t mean that the industry has any fewer engineers flocking to it.

Who’s the fool? – Profound discoveries or elaborate pranks

April 11, 2013 9:44 am | by Chris Fox, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

We all know the old adage that surrounds the first day of April. We’ve all taken part in or fallen victim to an April Fools prank at some point. In the contemporary realm, April Fools has taken on an entirely different persona. April 1 used to be a day where the bully in school could yell out the hallmark and get away with tripping you in the hallway (kind of)....

BIL Gates and the BioBrick Foundation: A new paradigm for biotechnology?

April 2, 2013 11:15 am | by Karl Stephan, Consulting Engineer, Texas State University, San Marcos | Blogs | Comments

No, that’s not a typo in the headline. I’m not talking about the founder of Microsoft, though he is no doubt the reason that biotechnology researcher Drew Endy decided to name his new computer-in-a-cell devices Boolean Integrase Logic gates (BIL for short).  The technology, which I’ll get to in a minute, is fascinating on its own.

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Looking forward on Ethernet's 40th anniversary

April 2, 2013 10:24 am | by John D’Ambrosia, Chairman and Board of Directors, Ethernet Alliance Chief Ethernet Evangelist, CTO Office, Dell | Blogs | Comments

Ethernet this year is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and anniversaries are typically the time to celebrate the past. But with so much innovation and development percolating across the global Ethernet ecosystem, there is little time for the technology’s vast array of stakeholders to look back on its successes.

Post-Sandy legislation: Backup generators would prevent long gas lines

March 28, 2013 4:12 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Blogs | Comments

Five months have passed since Superstorm Sandy, and legislators are nipping around the edges of bolstering the fuel distribution system so more gas can get to the consumer in the case of a widespread power outage or other state of emergency.

Is re-industrialization the key?

March 28, 2013 2:27 pm | by Tom McNamara, Assistant Professor of Operations Management, Rennes School of Business | Blogs | Comments

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.

Replenishing the “brain drain”

March 28, 2013 9:26 am | by Paul Michalicka, SKF USA Inc. | Blogs | Comments

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.

Nuclear power: The future of human civilization

March 25, 2013 10:23 am | by Tom Ligon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

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?

Level the playing field between retailers and e-tailers

March 20, 2013 9:38 am | by Colin Hanna, President, Let Freedom Ring | Blogs | Comments

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....

Fighting to reclaim manufacturing in America

March 19, 2013 1:34 pm | by Kristopher Settle, Energy Curtailment Specialists | Blogs | Comments

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).

An itch for telecom reform

March 18, 2013 5:00 pm | by Brian Santo, Editor-in-Chief, CED magazine | Blogs | Comments

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.

Is the Nobel Prize obsolete?

March 14, 2013 9:29 am | by Cynthia Fox, Bioscience Technology | Blogs | Comments

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?

Will future technology herald "the end of insight"?

March 11, 2013 9:08 am | by Chris Fox, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

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).

Learn from success too

March 7, 2013 9:20 am | by Alan Nicol, Executive Member, AlanNicolSolutions | Blogs | Comments

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.

USA claims dubious honor: World's top spammer

March 5, 2013 5:29 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.

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