News

Today, as engineering professionals, we are all lifelong learners if we are to prosper. Technology and indeed life is changing fast and we have to continually learn quickly and effectively new approaches, techniques and systems. Bear in mind that most learning is informal – i.e. through your colleagues and on-the-job. The good old traditional classroom course which we all used to attend is a dim memory.

A week or so ago I attended a superb (free or almost free) online course on learning...

An alumnus and a team from Oakland University have won $1 million for the creation of possibly the niftiest drone ever invented. The Loon Copter is an "aerial-surface-underwater reconnaissance drone". It can fly, ski on water and even dive down into water.

They built the drone for a competition called Drones for Good that exists to emphasize the use that drones have in the world of today. How drones "improve people's lives and provide positive technological solutions to modern day...

Students at the University of Washington are focusing on something important, something that affects every person who has ever owned a device that operates on Wi-Fi. Battery drain. Student hardware engineers have developed a new hardware that allegedly uses 10,000 times less power than current Wi-Fi. 

According to the students' report they have invented 'Passive Wi-Fi'. "Passive Wi-Fi transmissions can be decoded on any Wi-Fi device including routers, mobile phones and tablets,"...

The construction industry is fluctuating globally according to multiple news sources this week. IOL reports that in South Africa, the construction industry has been in a decline since the concluding of the 2010 World Cup. Murray & Roberts and Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon - companies that designed and established Cape Town Stadium - have allegedly retrenched staff and are blaming the lack of new projects that require their engineering teams and/or workers. 

IOL also...

One small step for quantum technology, one giant leap for MIT. Quantum engineering is always being reupholstered due to newer research that becomes available to the field, it is considered as a relatively new field of engineering. The Massachusetts Institue of Technology (MIT) have been investigating how quantum physics and computing go hand in hand for quite some time, and it seems they've made a breakthrough. 

With the assistance of the University of Innsbruck in Austria, MIT has...

Scientists at Cornell University are putting their engineers to work with one of the most fascinating projects of the year. They have designed a stretchy, flexible skin that might fill out many different roles. The skin emits light like a cellphone displays a screen on a phone, or, at least, that's what it looks like. They call it a hyper-elastic light-emitting capacitor (HLEC) and can be stretched up to twice the amount that previous stretchable fabrics were capable of. 

In their...

Being an engineer is sometimes one of the most rewarding jobs. Not only for the almost guaranteed employment in your field but also because you get to play with some of the coolest 'toys'. 

National Engineers Week has come and gone but one of the highlights for engineering students at Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District was seeing 'The Echo Ranger' in the flesh. The Echo Ranger is Boeing's submersible 'yellow submarine' - an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) - which was...

Chemical engineers in the United Kingdom are researching methods of testing substances at a faster rate than previously conducted to determine whether or not they are regarded psychoactive substances, otherwise known as 'legal highs'.

'Legal highs' (NPS - novel psychoactive substances) refer to substances that stimulate the consumer to the same extent illegal psychoactive drugs do but are easier to purchase due to them being accessible to most people. The substances are not being controlled...

Tesla and SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, is hosting a competition for engineering students or any engineers that are up to the challenge. Announced in January, Musk wants to see design ideas for 'The Hyperloop', a super-quick public transport alternative that should aim to travel at speeds of up to 760 miles per hour. 

Enter the Auburn Hyperloop Team. The group of mechanical engineers walked away with two awards at the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition Design Weekend. They won best overall...

Lithium ion batteries. Are they as safe as they could be? Ankur Jain, an assistant professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Texas at Arlington is researching how to make safer lithium ion batteries. He wants to update the technology based on research he has conducted and the contributions of the global community that have reported issues with lithium ion batteries. 

The National Science Foundation awarded Jain a five-year, $500,000 Faculty...

In the biomedical engineering field, cancer research is an important faculty of study. But, there are questions about the viability of current nanotechnology, in terms of creating cancer treatments. The concerns have been raised by the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research whose work includes the "advancement of new medicines, early detection, and diagnostic methods, more effective treatments, and highly efficient drug delivery systems" as stated on their website.

Purdue...

A new supercomputer powered by biological components created by a team of engineers from around the globe is being unveiled to the world. Dan Nicolau, a computer scientist from McGill University, Canada, pioneered the idea of creating a supercomputer that operates on biochemical substance, providing energy to the computer with similar energy that provides human cells with their energy - in the human body. 

According to the press release from the university, the supercomputer would...

TheEconomist.com estimates that more than a million people have lost their lives due to earthquakes in the last two decades alone. Most of these deaths are caused due to collapsing buildings, which has spurred a fascination amongst civil engineers with earthquake-proofing buildings to ensure less of them fall down during an earthquake.

Engineering students that form part of the Seismic Design Team at the University of California, Los Angeles, are to present their new project focusing on...

A new breakthrough in biological engineering spells good news for several companies who might have been using synthetic, toxic dyes in their products. A natural alternative for dyeing items indigo has been discovered. 

Dr. Jixun Zahn - an associate professor of biological engineering - works at Utah State University in the United States and has patented a new method of making a natural blue dye called inigoidine.He is at the university. 

Indigoidine is a deep blue dye found...

It had to happen at some point...right? 

Google's self-driving car technology has caused an accident. The company's self-driving Lexus SUV was the first out of the fleet of self-driving vehicles that has CAUSED a crash. The incident occurred on the 14th of February 2016, colliding with the side of a bus near Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California. 

The company now has to appear before California's Department of Motor Vehicles, otherwise known as the DMV, to engage in...

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced the awarding of a contract that will see the return of a Concorde-like aircraft to the world. Lockheed Martin are the lucky engineers that were given the $20 million order to design an aircraft that utilizes what is called Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST). 

This would be the first "X-plane" produced for NASA's New Aviation Horizons initiative. 

It forms part of NASA's Commercial...

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

As fibre-optic networks become more prevalent in South African businesses and homes, Cape Town could be boasting one of the fastest connections in the world. A German telecommunications company called ADVA Optical Networking, this week, tested the capabilities of the service which resulted in 400 Gbps. 

Cape Town Business News alleges that these speeds have only been reached four times in the world on fibre-optic networks and that these speeds have never been...

You may be one of the many engineering professionals not particularly enthused with the idea of making presentations. The reasons may be nervousness, discomfort with strange audiences or simply that you are out of your comfort zone. Often it is not a particularly pleasant experience for both the audience or the presenter. You’re unlikely to ever hear from someone, who has to attend an engineering presentation, that they are really looking forward to it.

Dear Colleagues

You may be one of...

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There has been a lot of news coverage in recent months about the dangers of Lithium rechargeable batteries – mostly related to fires on some motorized toys. Are all Lithium batteries the same?

Join guest presenter, Simon Chan (Chief Engineer at Radlink Communications) for a FREE 30 minute webinar on the 6th April as he discusses the various types of Lithium batteries used in different...

Airplane engineers at Boeing might have a rocky week ahead. Boeing Co said that it is planning to retrench some of its airplane engineering staff, confirmed by an exclusive Reuters report

Allegedly, a memo sent around within the company stated that they could be making voluntary layoffs. The memo quoted by Reuters stated, "We do not intend to backfill for people who retire from their executive or management roles unless the position is absolutely vital to carrying out our work...

The anxiety of workers in the world these days is that their jobs are going to be taken by a robot who can do their job more efficiently and better than they can. Some jobs are being replaced by robots but The Guardian reports that car maker Mercedes-Benz is opting to pair their robots up with "more capable humans". 

Allegedly, the robots are unable to cope with the different car customisation options that are offered by the company. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class's customisation...

The battle continues between the FBI and tech industry giant, Apple. The FBI are wanting to access the contents of an iPhone belonging to a terrorist known as the San Bernadino shooter who shot 14 people in the United States. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, is warning against allowing such a bypass of security services because of the prescedent it might set and is also warning against the criminal hackers that could get their hands on the software that would need to be invented to make such a...

Facebook has announced their new project that will see tech companies and internet service providers all over the world linking arms to bring the world of virtual reality - and other services that might require the internet - to life. The project they're calling the Telecom Infra Project will be an engineering team effort that will "reimagine the traditional appraoch to building and deploying telecom network infrastructure."

Global connectivity is one of the aims of the...

Researchers in Columbia University Cochlear Implant Center are investigating a way to engineer music so that people who have cochlear implants might actually be able to enjoy music.

Cochlear implants are engineered to make speech sound clearer to people who are past the point of utilizing an amplifying hearing aid, however, it is reported by implantees that they have lost the ability to enjoy music. 

The researchers from Columbia University intend to, "test the hypothesis that...

The future is here and it might be a little too unnerving to watch. 

Boston Dyanmics, an engineering and robotics design company owned by Alphabet (the company that owns Google) has unveiled an upgraded iteration of their Atlas Humanoid. In a new video the 'next generation' robot is seen opening a door and circumnavigating a snowy area in the nearby woods. It has been upgraded to "operate outdoors and inside buildings," Boston Dynamics say in the description of the...

The International Data Corporation (IDC) has announced that it estimates the global spending on robotics and industrial services will grow from $71 billion in 2015 to $135.4 billion in 2019. 

This was confirmed in their Worldwide Commercial Robotics Spending Guide which covers industrial markets such as: 

  • Robot sensors such as cameras, microphones, barometers, and thermometers
  • Robot effectors such as end effectors, motors, and speakers
  • System...

The engineering industry is being influenced to become more attractive as a field of study to females, with hopes that the male dominated industry might look more equal in the near future. 

ExxonMobil - the world's largest publicly traded international oil and gas company - is at the helm of this movement, establishing the Girls Engineering Festival that took place in the Independent School Districts of Conroe, Magnolia and Spring in the United States on the 23rd of...

Graph Engineering Streams

This week, engineeringcareer.org went searching for the engineers of popular social forum site Reddit. From February 21st  to February 27thNational Engineers Week is celebrated in the United States. The week puts emphasis on the need for engineers in society. We interviewed thirteen engineers from the website and asked a few questions about engineering and the industries they currently serve, with focus on graduates. Demographic calculations of the...

No one agrees 100% on what makes for plagiarism. Essentially, plagiarism is (generally blatant) copying of someone else’s work without giving them any credit or acknowledgement.

What puzzles me about plagiarism is that in giving credit to the originator of a particular concept or work can enhance one’s own work tremendously. When people read your article and see that it is backed by support from many other experts; they tend to find it more credible.

Dear Colleagues

No one agrees 100%...

Engineers from the University of Utah have recently discovered a revolutionary type of 2D semiconducting material that will open the door for faster smart phones and computers, while consuming significantly less power.

The semiconductor made from tin monoxide (tin and oxygen) is a layer of 2D material and only one atom thick. This allows the conductor to have electrical charges move through it much faster than silicon and other 3D materials that are conventionally used. This material has the...

Last week one of the true giants in engineering died. His name is Andrew (Andy) Grove (anglicised name from Hungarian) and he drove the microprocessor revolution (amongst other things). Due to the desperate situation in Hungary at the end of the Second World War, he immigrated to the USA and became one of the giants of the semiconductor industry.

One of his stock phrases (which formed the subject of one of his books) was: Only the paranoid survive in business.

Dear Colleagues

Last week...

Aerospace company Boeing plans to drastically increase it’s employment of engineers for future endeavours. Boeing Defence Australia’s (BDA) Director of Human Resources Melissa Davidson has announced that the organisation will create 220 new roles this year – including 197 for engineers – due to recently winning two major defence contracts.

Two contracts that are currently driving the employment growth in Boeing are the; Land 2072 Phase 2B system – a battlespace communications network...

Batteries, batteries….that is all we have been hearing of recently. This rapid movement to batteries will undoubtedly impact on the suppliers of electrical power such as power stations and the transmission/distribution networks as the use of batteries at homes will increase strongly. Driven by reducing costs of installations. And some very enthusiastic vendors such as Tesla who are all determined to drive the prices downwards with great vigour. Well, so they claim.

Dear...

A recent study by Deakin University (Melbourne, Australia) has shown that majority of engineering graduates actually end up working within the IT industry, rather than the Engineering Industry. Their findings were published in the Australasian Journal of Engineering Education.


The university analysed data on over 200,000 people who have a bachelor-level degree in engineering and found that the degree is extremely valuable to have across a wide range of industries. The study showed...

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‘The Coming revolution in engineering education’ is always somewhat tedious to read – it is an old worn cliché. We seem to be supposedly having revolutions in everything these days. Certainly there is change coming in engineering education but revolution – I doubt it.

EIT Stock ImageDear Colleagues,

‘The Coming revolution in engineering education’ is always somewhat tedious to read – it is an old worn cliché. We seem to be supposedly having revolutions in everything these days. Certainly there is change...

India’s rapid urbanization and industrial development have overtaken all efforts to protect the environment. This has led two of MIT’s doctoral students in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences to begin working on a way to address India’s high levels of air and water pollution issues that pose a threat to human health.

Nick Hagerty, a fourth-year PhD student is designing a cap and trade program with the intention of reducing pollution from industrial wastewater.  Ariel...

The Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment, in association with Citi recently carried out the Technology at Work v2.0: The Future Is Not What It Used To Be report. The report highlights published data that was featured in the World Bank Development Report 2016.

It was found that fourty-seven percent (47%) of jobs in the U.S. are at risk of automation in the next two decades. The report goes into depth with statistics showing which cities have the highest (and lowest)...

The recently released National Employment Report by Aspiring Minds has announced that 80% of India’s engineering graduates are unemployable. The report was based on a study of more than 150,000 engineering graduates in 2015 who attended more than 650 different universities. This has highlighted India’s need to upgrade the country’s education and training system.

CTO of Aspiring Minds, Varun Aggarwal said "Engineering has become the de-facto graduate degree for a large chunk of students...

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The so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution has had a lot of media coverage over the past year. This refers to the big upswing in developments in robotics, artificial intelligence (think of self-driving cars), genetics and cloud-based computing. This list goes on and on, of course.

Dear Colleagues,

EIT Stock ImageThe so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution has had a lot of media coverage over the past year. This refers to the big upswing in developments in robotics, artificial intelligence (think of...

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The PLC is surely one of the workhorses in industry – no matter whether you are in industrial automation, electrical or mechanical engineering, you are likely to be confronted with one of these little beasts - a Programmable Logic Controller or PLC (or indeed, Programmable Automation Controller – PAC)...

Dear Colleagues,

EIT Stock ImageAs the truism goes: Over 80% of malfunctions with PLCs are associated with Input/Output modules and field equipment. Frustratingly true for someone who...

You’re probably tired of hearing the hype about the Internet of Things (IoT). Well, I am getting a little overloaded.

As you probably know – the IoT is the magic carpet that will connect devices (mainly sensors), enabling seamless communications and monitoring/control from anywhere in your plant, home or indeed the world. After I did some initial research last year on what the real magic is, I have become somewhat disillusioned with the flood of articles on the IoT.

Dear...

In my bookshelf, I have a marvelous engineering book from 32 years ago entitled: The Robotics Revolution by Peter Scott inscribed in my rather youthful hand: 6th Nov. 1984 London. With fairly minimal mention about software - focussing more on the mechanical, electrical and control aspects. However today at the beginning of 2016 one of the overriding trends are based around ‘The Robots are definitely coming’.

Dear Colleagues,

In my bookshelf, I have a marvelous engineering book from 32...

 

Dear Colleagues,

“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” can really gnaw at you. How can you make sure that you’re being paid what you are really worth? Essentially your remuneration is based on the contribution you make to the business you work in. Whilst long hours are commendable, you will inevitably find the firm’s salesman lounging down at the beach during working hours drinking copious cappuccinos and earning double what you earn. Despite your engineering...

In the past few years; we have seen some spectacular collapses of buildings and bridges. This is quite inexplicable to today’s structural designer and engineer who puts enormous effort into the careful use of materials and huge safety margins. However, when a designer is operating at the limit of their expertise; mistakes still occur...

Dear Colleagues,

In the past few years; we have seen some spectacular collapses of buildings and bridges. This is quite inexplicable to today’s structural...

When you have a permanent job in a company, your income is pretty certain. But in the cruel but real world of consultant and contractor, life can be considerably more complex and fraught with hazard when dealing with contracts. Remember if you don’t handle these correctly, you will end up considerably poorer despite putting in an enormous amount of hours working...

Dear colleagues,

When you have a permanent job in a company, your income is pretty certain. But in the cruel but real world...

Many years ago, in an isolated part of the outback on the inevitable mine site in hot and dry conditions, one of our guys inserted a communications board into the PLC rack and inadvertently destroyed one the key memory chips by electrostatic discharge (ESD). Fortunately, we had one backup board left...

Dear Colleagues,

Many years ago, in an isolated part of the outback on the inevitable mine site in hot and dry conditions, one of our guys inserted a communications board into the PLC rack...

As engineering professionals we are always engaged in design engineering at some time or other. Whether you are an electrician undertaking a rework of the wiring for a switchboard or designing a state-of-the-art oil refinery or indeed, a new Apple iPhone.

Who is a designer today?

Dear Colleagues,

As engineering professionals we are always engaged in design engineering at some time or other. Whether you are an electrician undertaking a rework of the wiring for a switchboard or designing...

Would you leave your password to your bank account lying around? In the same way – you need to protect your  intellectual property (IP) such as engineering designs and  inventions. When protection is considered most of us think of patents. Some firms file a ferocious number of patents every year to protect their IP. Think of IBM who received an unbelievable 6,809 patents last year.

Dear Colleagues,

Would you leave your password to your bank account lying around? In the same way...

Is your new engineering graduate, technician or technologist ready for the job? Do they find it easy to learn the key elements of their job? Did they get a great education or training experience focussed on practical outcomes?  Are they sure of what they must do at work? Are they able to prioritize their work load?

Dear Colleagues,

Is your new engineering graduate, technician or technologist ready for the job? Do they find it easy to learn the key elements of their job? Did they get...

Politicians of all stripes are calling for more innovation and entrepeneurship in the economy. No doubt realizing that large mega corporations aren’t going to create the jobs and taxes for the future. The trick when setting up a new venture is...

 

Dear Colleagues,

Politicians of all stripes are calling for more innovation and entrepeneurship in the economy. No doubt realizing that large mega corporations aren’t going to create the jobs and taxes for the future.

The trick when...

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