Archive: May 2010

  1. Outsourcing Graduates?

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    As companies flock to China to save on growing production costs in the United States, a similar trend has been identified in the engineering industry. Intensive and competitive programs at international universities threaten domestic graduates, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Adam Bruckner, chair of the aeronautical engineering program at the University of Washington, sites shrinking and inferior education opportunities stateside as cause for alarm.

    Nearby aero-giant Boeing is notorious for recruiting from the University of Washington, but many students are graduating with qualifications and grades that the company finds subpar. “We don’t want to just crank people out for the sake of cranking people out. We want to produce good engineers,” says Bruckner of program shortcomings. He notes that educational cutbacks have left students unmotivated and created a bigger divide between the stellar performers and those who merely coast.

    On a recent trip to China to check out Beihang University, a school that specializes in engineering and the aeronautical field, Bruckner saw vast differences in their approach to teaching. Many will go on to work at companies like Boeing. What remains to be seen is how U.S. schools will look to fight back in a time when smart engineers are in greater demand than ever before.

    To read the full interview with Adam Bruckner from the Seattle PI, click here.

  2. Google Getting into TV!

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    Google announced news that has the potential to be groundbreaking with their plan to launch Google TV. It promises to blend high definition television with web content, data from their wildly popular Android device, and from the Windows Media Center. Their primary competitor will be Apple TV, which provides a similar service using the iTunes application from Mac.

    Vincent Dureau, the lead engineer on the Google TV project, told the EE Times about what his new technology means for the future of television. Possibilities for the device’s reach are limitless. He says, “We are creating a platform that is completely open. It runs in a web browser so anyone can publish to it. Everything will be open source. That’s how you reach scale. Any vendor can take the source code and make products.” By allowing for outside engineers to work on application creation and expansion, Google TV could revolutionize the marriage of Internet and television.

    Google TV will be powered by an Intel Atom processor, and will be available starting Fall 2010. Sony will also be launching a new line of televisions designed to maximize the technology.

    To read engineer Vincent Dureau’s full interview with the EE Times, click here.

  3. Oil Spill Update!

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    Oil Spill As the BP oil spill continues to gush thousands of gallons a day on the heels of failed attempts to halt the leaking well, actor Kevin Costner has come forward to offer a possible new solution. An unlikely source for such technology, Costner has been working for over fifteen years to quietly develop the machine that employs centrifugal force to separate oil and water.

    Costner’s representative and business partner, attorney John Houghtaling, explained the technology to the Los Angeles Times, noting: “The machines are essentially like big vacuum cleaners, which sit on barges and suck up oily water and spin it around at high speed,” Houghtaling said. “On one side, it spits out pure oil, which can be recovered. The other side spits out 99% pure water.”

    The actor developed an interest in water preservation and recovery while filming the ill-fated action flick Waterworld. He has reportedly invested over $24 million into the technology. BP has already begun talks with Costner about utilizing it.

    After tar balls washed up on the Florida Keys, rampant fear that the oil will destroy delicate ecosystems and industries comes closer likelihood. It has already begun to coat Louisiana’s wetlands.

    Read the full story from the Los Angeles Times here.

  4. Engineers Help in Oil Leak

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    Surely you’ve heard about the massive oil leak that has been wreaking havoc on the Gulf Coast for the past week. The slick has been spreading quickly, and BP (the company that owns the well) has been doing everything they can think of to stop the spill since efforts to try to shut down the well have failed.

    That’s where engineers save the day.

    A massive dome began its descent 5,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico on Friday to try to cap the well. Though this procedure had been done before, it had never been tried on a well of this size. The containment dome would have collected the leaking oil at the main leak point.

    The workers at BP encountered a problem, however, when hydrates (crystallized gas) clogged the containment dome. Needing to set aside the dome on the sea floor, BP has started work on it’s plan B, a smaller containment dome that they will be able to keep free of hydrates using  hot water or methanol if necessary.

    The oil is gushing at a rate of 5,000 barrels per day and so far an estimated 2.6 million gallons of oil has been spilled. Hopefully, this engineering feat will be able to contain the oil.