ENVIRONMENTAL MARKETS

May 16, 2015


Environmental markets have been actively traded on both compliant and voluntary levels for the last 7 years. The Kyoto Protocol was the first compliance-driven agreement between thirty-seven  (37)  countries.  This agreement was established by the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The purpose of the UNFCCC was to create benchmark emission reduction goals.  Annex I to this agreement began in 2005 and will extend through 2012. The reductions call for five percent (5%)  annual reductions based on a benchmark established in 1990. There are currently thirty-four (34)  countries that were selected to continue into 2013 with compliance guidelines established at the Durban Conference.  These guidelines were to insure that Climate Change regulations would be in place.  These non-binding guidelines will become binding in May 2012. The European Union Trading Scheme will continue along with the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation Programs to reduce the emissions by an additional 20% by 2020. Currently Certified Emissions Reductions from industrialized and non developed nations are being traded through the aforementioned programs from entities that have adopted programs.

The United States signed the Kyoto Protocol however never put in place compliant guidelines enabling emission reduction instruments to be traded within these markets. Therefore, credits originated in the United States would have to be traded within voluntary markets. The Western Climate Initiative is scheduled to begin January 1, 2013 with California and Quebec as the two participating parties in the first North American compliant cap and trade program. The trading platform will adhere to guidelines outlined in Bill AB 32 ratified in 2006 and recently upheld by election in November 2010 via Proposition 23. Prop 23 was overwhelmingly endorsed by sixty-three percent (63%) of the voters and has cleared the way for a statewide cap and trade program. The California Air Resources Board has cleared the way for the first compliant stateside cap and trade system. Phase I is through 2020 with targeted reductions of 17% overall. The resources board has acknowledged four (4) crediting programs whose protocols were adopted from the Climate Action Reserve; Forestry, Urban Forestry, Ozone Depleting Substances, and Livestock. These programs will be eligible for carbon crediting through the abatement or reduction of carbon emissions. California represents twenty-five (25%)  of the total U.S. GDP and will allow carbon sequestration projects that can be originated anywhere in the continental U.S., Canada, and some regions in Mexico. The Western Climate Initiative (WCI) will be the established platform that California and Quebec will adhere to for climate protocol. WCI member jurisdictions include seven (7) US states and four (4) Canadian provinces:  Arizona, British Columbia, California, Manitoba, Montana, New Mexico, Ontario, Oregon, Quebec, Utah, and Washington. It is expected that states and provinces within the WCI will follow suit once the program is up and running. There is definitely a political element to cap and trade programs. It is somewhat difficult to predict what federal and state programs will be put in place in future years that could expand the areas of compliance. California Carbon Allowances are currently being traded on the Intercontinental Exchange. Pricing for the allowances began at $17 per allowance for the first transaction and then went as high $23. Point Carbon has forecasted carbon allowance prices to rise as high as $75 by 2020. The offsets are credits that are generated from emission reduction projects that are expected to price at approximately 70% of allowance prices.

The voluntary markets were impacted dramatically when federal cap and trade legislation stalled in the Senate in 2009. The economic environment and passing of the health care initiative put a formal cap and trade program on hold.   Voluntary carbon offsetting went from being for the greater good of the public to a luxury line item. The economy has started to slowly correct and voluntary market transactions per Markit have continued to grow. Issuance activity was up to 27.8 million Verified Carbon Standard Credits an increase of 500,000 credits. Credits being traded from 2010 to 2011 were 3.6 million to 9.8 million or an increase of 6.2 million credits. The Gold Standard credits traded at premiums and most transactions were over the counter pricing from $8-$12. Companies such as Whole Foods, Google, Yahoo, and Wal-Mart are forward thinking companies that are either buying voluntary carbon offsets or actually funding projects that directly reduce emissions. The Bonneville Environmental Foundation was set up to offset emissions and list participants such as Chevrolet, The North Face, REI, NHL, MLS, Idaho Power, Silk and Oregon State University.  The Foundation has identified projects that yield certain credits to address the offset needs of these individual entities.

Overall, emission reduction credits are here to stay. The Climate Change initiative is considered to be gaining more traction with the WCI platform being established and is predicted to pick up steam on a national level as states begin to adopt their own regulations regarding greenhouse gas emissions. The Clean Air Act is still in force and additional GGE compliance could be implemented through the EPA.

We are seeing significant effort to “clean up” our environment by reducing emissions by putting into effect compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations, propane fueling stations, hybrid automobiles, electric-powered automobiles, methane capture from wast sites, re-processing of oils and several other reclaim measures.  A much greater number of our population is beginning to recognize that we have one world–one Earth.  We had better take care of it.

 

 

FORWARD THINKING

May 2, 2015


I’m always impressed with a person a company or even a country that exhibits forward or visionary thinking.  It says a great deal about the ability of anyone or any entity to determine future events when you decide what those events are to be; what they look like; who they affect and when they occur as far as timing.  One example of long-range thinking is the decision by Norway to “switch off” FM radio signals beginning in 2017.

Forbes magazine published an article entitled: “Norway Is Switching Off FM Radio, Starting In 2017”.  This post was written by Amit Chowdhry and published in their 20 April 2015 online magazine.

Before we go much further, let us take a look at FM or Frequency Modulation and refresh our memories as to just what that technology is all about.

FREQUENCY MODULATION

FM broadcasting is a VHF (Very High Frequency) broadcasting technology, pioneered by Edwin Howard Armstrong.  This technology uses frequency modulation (FM) to provide high-fidelity sound over broadcast radio. The term “FM band” describes the frequency band in a given country which is dedicated solely to FM broadcasting. This term is slightly misleading, as it equates a modulation method with a range of frequencies.

In telecommunications and signal processing, frequency modulation (FM) is the encoding of  information in a carrier wave by varying the instantaneous frequency of the wave. (Compared with amplitude modulation, in which the amplitude of the carrier wave varies, while the frequency remains constant.)

In analog signal applications, the difference between the instantaneous and the base frequency of the carrier is directly proportional to the instantaneous value of the input-signal amplitude.

Digital data can be encoded and transmitted via a carrier wave by shifting the carrier’s frequency among a predefined set of frequencies—a technique known as frequency-shift keying (FSK). FSK is widely used in modems and fax modems, and can also be used to send Morse code. Radio-teletype also uses FSK. Frequency modulation is used in radiotelemetryradar, seismic prospecting, and monitoring newborns for seizures via EEG. FM is widely used for broadcasting music and speech, two-way radio systems, magnetic tape-recording systems and some video-transmission systems. In radio systems, frequency modulation with sufficient bandwidth provides an advantage in cancelling naturally-occurring noise.

Now, let’s discuss the situation in Norway and what the Norwegian government has determined their course of action relative to FM.

FM and NORWAY

The Norway Ministry of Culture has announced a complete transition towards digital radio by switching off FM radio across the country.  The change will begin January 11, 2017 and end December 13, 2017.  The will introduce Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) which will offer listeners in Norway a wide range of radio channel content. DAB currently offers twenty-two (22) national channels in Norway compared to the five national channels on FM radio. About 56% of listeners in Norway use some form of digital radio every day.  This is according to a Gallup survey.

Norway is the first country to schedule a date for FM shutdown, but there are several other countries in Europe and Southeast Asia planning to switch to DAB. The change does not come as a surprise because the Norway Ministry of Culture proposed turning off FM radio four years ago. “This is considered to be an important day for everyone who loves radio. The minister’s decision allows them to concentrate resources even more upon what is most important, namely to create high quality and diverse radio-content to our listeners”, said Thor Gjermund Eriksen, the head of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, in a statement.

The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation or NBC reported that the digital radio service is free over-the-air, but it requires a special receiver attachment on the listener’s end.  NBC indicated that digital radio also has partly higher population coverage than FM does, especially along roads. FM radio is about eight times more expensive to use than digital radio and is much more dependable for spreading messages in case of emergency. An estimated 7.9 million radio sets will be affected by the FM radio switch-off and twenty percent (20%) of private cars in Norway are currently equipped for digital radio.

The digital radio standard has been actively developed over the past twenty-five (25) years by European researchers. And Norway was the first country to implement the standard in 1995. In 2007, an updated form of DAB launched in Norway called DAB+. Radio broadcasters will be able to decide whether to use DAB or DAB+ transmissions.

CONCLUSION

I’m afraid our country would have hearing after hearing with the outcome being stagnation if we attempted such a move.  I know the advent of digital radio generated a great moaning and gnashing of teeth from AM and FM stations now existent in the US. Special interest seem to govern what we do in this country and only when looming disaster is on the horizon do we act.

As always, I welcome your comments.

 

WHERE THE JOBS ARE

May 1, 2015


The following data was taken from a survey done by nerdwallet.com:  Best Places for Engineers, 23 February 2015.

If you follow my postings you know I primarily concentrate on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professions. I track the job market relative to job availability and salary rates over the country and the world.  An online publication called NerdWallet recently published a very informative article on job availability for engineers.  Here is the methodology used to provide the results.

Methodology:

The overall score for each of the metro areas was calculated using the following measures:

  1. Engineers per 1,000 total jobs (50% of each overall score). Data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2013 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates.
  1. Annual mean wage for engineering jobs (25% of each overall score). Data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2013 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates.
  1. Median gross rent for each place (25% of each overall score). Data is from the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.

This study analyzed 350 of the largest metro areas in the U.S.

The following engineering fields, as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, were used to compound the data: aerospace, biomedical, chemical, civil, computer hardware, electrical, electronics, environmental, health and safety engineers, industrial, marine engineers and naval architects, materials, mechanical, mining and geological engineers and all other engineers.  This list just about covers the “waterfront” as far as working-class engineers.  Let’s take a look at the results.

List 1-10

List 11-20

In looking at the list above, we can make the following observations:

  • Eleven of the top twenty cities and areas are in the South. The list includes the following southern cities:
  1. Huntsville, Alabama

With a NASA flight center and an Army arsenal, Huntsville is nicknamed “The Rocket City” for good reason. Engineers make up 6% of its employed population and make nearly $103,000 a year, which is higher than the national mean. Median rent is the second lowest in our top 10, at around $725 a month. Huntsville, a northern Alabama city near the Tennessee border, is a hub for aerospace engineers.

  1. Warner Robins, Georgia

Drive 90 minutes south of Atlanta and you’ll hit Warner Robins, where nearly 4% of the working world is in engineering. Here you’ll find the Robins Air Force Base, which employees more than 25,000 people, and the Museum of Aviation, the second-largest museum in the nation’s Air Force. However, engineers in this area earn the lowest salary of our top 10, around $86,000 a year, which is lower than the national mean.

  1. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida

Aside from ocean views, the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville area offers career opportunities for engineers, who make up about 3% of the employed population, earn almost $94,000 a year and pay around $876 in rent. Harris Corp., a worldwide telecommunications company, and Intersil Corp., a semiconductor manufacturer, are headquartered in the area, employing thousands.

  1. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas

In the Lone Star State’s most populated area, engineers earn their livelihood in the energy sector at companies including Phillips 66, Marathon Oil and Kinder Morgan. Engineers in this area make a mean salary of almost $123,000, which is the second highest in our top 20. This area also made our top 10 list of Best Places for STEM Graduates.

  1. Midland, Texas

As the saying goes, “Everything’s bigger in Texas,” including the engineering sector. Engineers here take home the largest salary of our top 20 — about $141,000 a year. Midland, with key industries including aerospace, oil and gas, has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, 2.6%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  1. Decatur, Alabama

Just 25 miles west of our list’s leading place, Decatur engineers have access to many opportunities in Huntsville. But Decatur itself is home to a United Launch Alliance facility, where spacecraft launch equipment is manufactured. Engineers make up about 2% of Decatur’s workforce, making it the smallest engineering industry in our top 10. However, it still has more engineers per 1,000 employees than the national average.

  • All 20 locations have larger engineering industries than the national average of twelve (12) engineers for every 1,000 employees.
  • Engineers in thirteen (13) of the top twenty (20) places earn more than the national mean engineering salary, which is $92,170.
  •  Fourteen (14) locations have lower median rent than the average U.S. metro area, which is $905 a month.
  • A great deal of employment results from proximity to universities and military-industrial complexes although the “oil patch” certainly draws a great number of individuals in STEM professions.
  • There is a significant absence from areas of the northeast and the “rust belt”; i.e. the northern and mid-western states.

I also think certain factors such as lower taxes; less congestion during commute, milder climate, and lower cost of living contribute to overall reasons for companies locating in southern areas.

I hope you enjoyed this one. I will make every effort to keep this list current.  As always, I appreciate your comments.  Keep them coming.


Kelley Blue Book (KBB)  recently examined the world of high-efficiency cars the same way a tight-fisted consumer might. That might be why five of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s ten (10) most fuel-efficient cars didn’t even make the list.

I have collected photos of KBB’s best, along with a few extra shots of high-mileage vehicles that didn’t make the cut. From pure electrics to hybrids to turbo diesels, the following is a look at the best and greenest cars on the road today. Before we take a look, let’s gage our post by looking at a very brief history of KBB.

HISTORY:

In 1918, a young man named Les Kelley parked three Model T Fords in an open lot, put $450 in the till and started the Kelley Kar Company. It was to become the largest dealership in the world and, along the way, spawn a need for placing values on used and even new cars, known as Blue Book® values.

1914 was an interesting year. A 19-year-old named Babe Ruth pitched his first game in the majors as a Baltimore Oriole.  And Les Kelley, the son of a preacher from Arkansas, made his way to California at the age of 17.

Les had no money and no job, but he owned an old car. It was in fine shape because he had a knack for mechanics and had overhauled it himself. All of his friends admired his car and frequently tried to buy it. After much persuasion he finally did sell it to one of them. With the money he received from this deal Les bought another old Ford. After giving this car a thorough overhauling, he traded it off, taking in two used cars and a little money on the deal. He reconditioned these cars and sold them. With the money he bought other used automobiles and found himself making enough money to pay his way through college.

1918 was an interesting year. Babe Ruth was now a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, as they defeated the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. World War I ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. And like many young men at the end of the war, Les Kelley sought to establish himself in the business world. He leased part of a lot from another car dealer in Los Angeles and started the Kelley Kar Company with three cars for sale. His brother, Buster, at age 13, joined Les as a lot boy, changing tires and washing cars. By the age of 18 Buster ran the repair shop with a dozen mechanics, and Les managed sales. Les and Buster did so well that they had to move to progressively larger sites.

In the early 1920s, to help acquire new inventory, Les Kelley distributed to other dealers and to banks a list of automobiles he wished to buy and the prices he was willing to pay for them. The automotive community began to trust his judgment so much as an accurate reflection of current values, they started to request the list for their own use. When someone asked a dealer what his used car might be worth, the dealer usually took a look at Mr. Kelley’s list, conveniently tucked under his desk blotter. It didn’t take long for Les Kelley to realize that he could provide an ongoing service to dealers and bankers alike.

1926 was an interesting year for individual achievement. A 19-year-old American named Gertrude Ederle swam the English Channel. “Our Trudy” was the first woman to conquer the Channel, and her time was almost two hours faster than the men’s record. Babe Ruth led the Yankees into the World Series (although he made the final out in game seven, when he was caught stealing). Edsel Ford had risen to President of Ford Motor Company, soon to announce the Model A.

And in Los Angeles, Les Kelley decided to expand the list of automobile values he had been producing since 1918 and published the first Blue Book of Motor Car Values . He showed factory list price and cash value on thousands of vehicles, from Cadillacs to Duesenbergs, from Pierce-Arrows to Hupmobiles. A 1926 Packard sedan limousine with balloon tires might fetch as much as $3,825. But a 1921 Nash touring car, even with a clock, was only worth $50. Les named the publication Blue Book after the Social Register, because it meant that you would find valuable information inside. (Emily Post had also just published her first book of etiquette, which was to later be named Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage ). And Les Kelley was to make Kelley Blue Book synonymous with the authoritative source for car values. To this day, across the country, people ask the question, “What’s the Blue Book value of my car?” At the dealership Les was selling “Selected Blue Seal Automobiles,” so he carried the blue and gold ribbon medallion onto the cover of the Blue Book, where it remains today.

By the late 1950s Les Kelley, then in his sixties, decided to cash in on some of that success. He made a decision to sell the dealerships rather than move them again (this time would have meant a move from downtown L.A., the current site of the Staples Center). By 1962 the Kelleys were completely out of the car business and devoting full time to the Blue Book , with Buster as Publisher and Bob (shown here) as Assistant Publisher. The company moved to Long Beach and later to Orange County. Les continued to be active in the business until his death in 1990, at the age of 93.

For the next 30 years the Blue Book was to thrive as a “trade” publication, meaning it was only sold to businesses involved in the automotive industry, such as car dealers, financial institutions and insurance companies. These customers used the bimonthly book to determine everything from loan values to suggested retail prices. Kelley Blue Book continued to innovate, becoming the first publication to show the effect of high or low mileage on a car’s value.

As a natural evolution, the company began publishing other value guides. A New Car Price Manual was added in 1966, and the company became the industry’s leading provider of pricing services. Auto dealers sometimes carried recreational vehicles or took them as trade-ins, so they needed information on these too. Kelley Blue Book developed RV guides that place values on everything from travel trailers to campers to ATVs to snowmobiles. A separate Motorcycle Guide was published, and a Manufactured Housing Guide.

As the quality of cars improved, people began to drive them longer. The average age of a vehicle on the road today has been estimated to be about nine years. The Blue Book covered seven years, so it made sense to produce a sister publication, the Older Car Guide , that provided values another 14 years back. Then came the Early Model Guide , which today provides values all the way back to 1946!

In 1993 Kelley Blue Book made its initial venture into the consumer marketplace by publishing a Consumer Edition of the Blue Book . It quickly became the nation’s number-one-selling automotive book, often making the USA Today best-seller list. It features 15 years of used car values on more than 10,000 models of cars, trucks and vans and is available in bookstores, auto supply stores and other locations.

Quietly though, something called the World Wide Web was introducing regular people to a medium called the Internet. It was innovation time again, and Kelley Blue Book saw a further opportunity to facilitate transactions between consumers and retailers. The company created a Web site, kbb.com, running on a single PC and offering first, new car prices in 1995 and then its famous used car values in 1996. Early in 1996, 20,000 people a month found their way to the site, largely by word-of-mouth. That number has grown a bit since then and now exceeds seven million visitors a month coming to kbb.com and millions more viewing Blue Book information on numerous portals and other automotive sites, including those of auto manufacturers and car dealers.

When kbb.com was launched in 1995, it charged consumers $3.95 for a pricing report. Almost immediately Kelley Blue Book received email from some customers arguing that information on the Internet should be free. Rather than disagree with its own customers, the company pulled the plug on charging after just three weeks and began the switch to a business run like radio and television, supported by advertising and partners. The pricing reports have been free to consumers ever since.

KBB’s 2015 RATINGS:

So much for history. Let’s now take a look at what KBB considers fifteen of the “greenest” automobiles in the lineup today.  Here we go.

VW JETTA

VW GOLF

TOYOTA CAMRY HIBRID

TESLA

SMART CAR

PRIUS

LEAF

KIA

HONDA HYBRID

FORD FOCUS

FORD C-MAX HYBRID


FIAT E

 

CHEVY VOLT

CHEVY SPARK

BMW i3

Please note, the automobiles given above, for the most part, look at mileage only. Not reliability or cost of ownership.  Those numbers represent a post for another day.  Hope you enjoy this one.


If you follow my postings you know I love to fly and got my pilot’s license when I was fifteen.  Due to FAA regulations, I had to wait until I was sixteen before I could fly solo.  I logged quite a few hours during my fifteenth year but with a rated pilot in the right seat.  A digital of the type aircraft I flew is given as follows:

Piper Tri-Pacer

As you can see, most would call this a puddle-jumper.  It got me there and I had a good time doing it.

We go from fairly unsophisticated to the cutting-edge when we look at the F-35 Lightning II.  Let’s take a look.

PROGRAM:

The F-35 Lightning II Program (also known as the Joint Strike Fighter Program) is the Department of Defense’s focal point for defining affordable next generation strike aircraft weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and our allies. (The word affordable is now in question since there have been significant cost overruns for the entire program.)  The F-35 will bring cutting-edge technologies to the battle space of the future.  The JSFs advanced airframe, autonomic logistics, avionics, propulsion systems, stealth, and firepower will ensure that the F-35 is the most lethal, supportable and survivable aircraft ever to be used by so many war fighters across the globe.   Digital photographs of the fighter are given as follows:

F-35 Fighter

F-35 Fighter(2)

Someone once said, “ if it looks like it will fly—it will fly”.  This aircraft definitely looks like it can fly and intended for the US Navey, US Air Force and the US Marine Corps.

The JSF will fulfill stated Service needs as follows:

  • U. S. Navy First day of war, survivable strike fighter aircraft to complement F/A-18E/F
  • U.S. Air Force Multirole aircraft (primary-air-to-ground) to replace the F-16 and A-10 and complement the F/A-22
  • U.S. Marine Corps STOVL aircraft to replace the AV-8B and F/A-18 as their only strike fighter
  • United Kingdom Royal Navy & Royal Air Force STOVL aircraft to replace Sea Harriers & GR.7s as a supersonic strike fighter
  • Other Countries Potential JSF customers include current operators of F-16, F/A-18, and AV-8B

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION:

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program is an internationally oriented program consisting of partnerships with a number of countries. See below for links to the transcripts of the signing ceremonies of the official partnership of each of the programs cooperating partners: United Kingdom (signed 17 Jan 2001 for $2B)

Italy (signed 24 Jun 2002 for $1B)
Netherlands (signed 17 Jun 2002 for $800M)
Turkey (signed 11 Jun 2002 for $175M)
Canada (signed 7 Feb 2002 for $150M)
Australia* (signed 31 Oct 2002 for $150M)
Denmark (signed 28 May 2002 for $125M)
Norway* (signed 20 Jun 2002 for $125M)

A quick look at the various suppliers relative to companies and countries contributing resources may be seen as follows:

VENDORS AND MAJOR CONTRACTORS

CAPABILITIES:

Stealth. The F-35 is designed as a stealth counterpart to the F-22 Raptor air dominance fighter and one that can share “first day of the war” duties against defended targets although it can’t perform air-air or SEAD/ “Wild Weasel” missions to the same standard. The F-35 has a larger single engine instead of the Raptor’s twin thrust-vectoring F119s, removing both super-cruise (sustained flight above Mach 1) and super-maneuverability options. The F-22A is also a much “stealthier” aircraft from all angles, and independent analysis and modeling has concluded that the F-35’s stealth will be weaker from the sides and the rear. Even so, the F-35 is a big improvement over existing ‘teen series’ fighters, and a step above Generation 4+ options like the F/A-18E/F Super HornetEurofighterRafale, and JAS-39 Gripen.  This fact is considered by the DoD to be a drawback.

Engine. The F-35 was designed to offer interchangeable engine options. That has been an important feature for global F-16 and F-15 customers, improving costs and performance, while providing added readiness insurance for dual-engine fleets like the USAF, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, etc. Pratt & Whitney’s lobbying eventually forced GE & Rolls-Royce’s F136 out of the F-35 program, and made their F135-PW-100 engine the only choice for global F-35 fleets.  A special F-135-PW-600 version with Rolls Royce’s LiftFan add-on, and a nozzle that can rotate to point down, will power the vertical-landing F-35B.

The US military had better hope that an engine design problem never grounds all of their fighters. While they’re at it, they should hope that both performance and maintenance contracts remain reasonable, despite the absence of any competitive alternative.

Sensors. The Lightning II will be equipped to levels that would once have defined a high-end reconnaissance aircraft. Its advanced APG-81 AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar is smaller and less powerful than the F-22A’s APG-77v1; but still offers the strong AESA advantages of simultaneous air-air and air-ground capabilities, major maintenance & availability improvements, and secure, high-bandwidth communications benefits. The F-35 also shares a “sensor fusion” design advance with the F-22, based on an even more extensive sensor set embedded all around the airframe. Both planes will be able to perform as reconnaissance aircraft, though the F-35 will have superior infrared and ground-looking sensors. Both fighters will also have the potential to act as electronic warfare aircraft, though not to the same level as the Super-Hornet’s EA-18G Growler derivative.

These sensors are connected to a lot of computing power, in order to create single-picture view that lets the pilot see everything on one big 20″ LCD screen and just fly the plane, rather than trying to push buttons, switch views, and figure it all out at 6g. As part of that sensor fusion, the F-35 will be the first plane is several decades to fly without a heads-up display. Instead, pilots will wear Elbit/Rockwell’s JHMDS helmet or BAE’s HMSS, and have all of that information projected wherever they look. JHMDS is both a strength that adds new capabilities, like the ability to look “through” the plane’s floor, and a single point-of-failure weakness.

Maintenance. The F-35 has a large number of design features that aim to simplify maintenance and keep life cycle costs down. Since operations and maintenance are usually about 65% or more of a fighter’s lifetime cost, this is one the most important and overlooked aspects of fighter selection.

Stealth aircraft have always had much higher maintenance costs, but the F-35’s designers hope that new measures can reverse that trend. Some of the plane’s stealth coatings are being baked into composite airplane parts, for instance, in the hope that customers will need fewer “Martians” (Materials Application and Repair Specialists) around to apply stealth tapes and putties before each mission. Technical innovations like self-diagnosing aircraft wiring aim to eliminate one of the toughest problems for any mechanic, and the fleet-wide ALIS information and diagnostic system is designed to shift the fleet from scheduled maintenance to maintenance only as needed.

Despite these measures, March 2012 operations and maintenance projections have the F-35 at 142% O&M cost, relative to F-16s, and subsequent reports have risen as high as 160%. It remains to be seen if the advantages of F-35 innovations manage to fulfill their promise, or if projections that they’ll be outweighed in the end by increased internal complexity, and by the proliferation of fault-prone electronics, come true. That has certainly been the general trend over the last 50 years of fighter development, with a very few notable exceptions like America’s F-16s and A-10s, and Sweden’s JAS-39 Gripen.

SPECIFICATIONS:

The specifications for this fighter are really impressive.  As you can see, it can fly at MACH 1.6 and pull a survivable maximum of 9.0 Gs.   It also is capable of carrying a huge array of weapons.  The complete package is given below.

SPECIFICATIONS

COCKPIT:

The F-35 features a full-panel-width glass cockpit touchscreen “panoramic cockpit display” (PCD), with dimensions of 20 by 8 inches (50 by 20 centimeters). A cockpit speech-recognition system (DVI) provided by Adace I has been adopted on the F-35 and the aircraft will be the first operational U.S. fixed-wing aircraft to employ this DVI system, although similar systems have been used on the AV-8B Harrier II and trialled in previous aircraft, such as the F-16 VISTA.

helmet-mounted display system (HMDS) will be fitted to all models of the F-35. While some fighters have offered HMDS along with a head up display (HUD), this will be the first time in several decades that a front line fighter has been designed without a HUD.   The F-35 is equipped with a right-hand HOTAS side stickcontroller. The Martin-Baker US16E ejection seat is used in all F-35 variants. The US16E seat design balances major performance requirements, including safe-terrain-clearance limits, pilot-load limits, and pilot size; it uses a twin-catapult system housed in side rails. The F-35 employs an oxygen system derived from the F-22’s own system, which has been involved in multiple hypoxia incidents on that aircraft; unlike the F-22, the flight profile of the F-35 is similar to other fighters that routinely use such systems.  The cockpit is a pilot’s dream (or nightmare).

COCKPIT

COSTS OVER-RUNS:

The cost of the U.S. Defense Department’s most expensive weapons program, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, declined by 1 percent in the past year to $391 billion while lawmakers remain concerned about its software.

The estimated price tag to develop and build 2,457 F-35 Lightning II fighter jets includes $326.9 billion for air frames and $64.3 billion for engines, according to newly released figures from the Pentagon. The combined amount is $4.5 billion, or 1.1 percent, less than an estimate of $395.7 billion released in March 2012.

The decline was attributed in part to revised labor rates charged by the prime contractor — Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin Corp. — and its subcontractors, according to the Defense Department.

The F-35 is among a Pentagon portfolio of 78 weapons programs projected to cost a total of $1.66 trillion. That’s a 2.7 increase in cost from last year’s projection of $1.62 trillion for 83 systems. Despite the modest rise, none of the programs were flagged for having significant cost overruns.

The figures were released the same week a Republican-led subcommittee in the House of Representatives voted to require that Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, create an independent panel to review the F-35’s software development and submit a report on its status to congressional defense committees by March 3, 2014.

The House Armed Services’ tactical air and land forces subcommittee, led by Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, included the language in its draft of the 2014 defense authorization bill, which sets policy goals and spending targets for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

Kendall himself has said the amount of code still needed to be written creates “some risks” and Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the service’s F-35 program manager, has said he’s concerned the slow pace of software development may delay the delivery of the most lethal version of the fighter jet beyond 2017.

That model of the aircraft, known as 3F, is designed to be equipped with a suite of internal and external weapons, including the GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition, laser-guided Paveway II bomb, Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile and infrared Sidewinder missile.

The Pentagon in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 plans to spend $8.4 billion to buy 29 F-35 Lightning IIs, including 19 for the Air Force, six for the Marine Corps and four for the Navy, according to the budget request released last month. The plane is designed to replace such aircraft as the F-16, A-10, F/A-18 and AV-8B.

CONCLUSIONS:

This is a marvelous piece of technology but it is tremendously expensive.   It is obviously designed to consider “wars of the future”, where they may be fought and who just might be the enemy.  This one is too big to fail and the program, in some fashion, will go to fruition.


Data for this post was taken from the following sources: 1.) Design News Daily, and 2.) Those references given on the individual slides.

I have been a “blue-collar” working engineer since graduation in 1966.  I think it’s a marvelous profession and tremendously rewarding.  I also find that engineering is one of the most trusted professions.  When you are designing a bridge, a machine, a biomedical device, etc. there is little room for PC.   Being politically correct will get you a bum design.  You design towards accomplishing an objective or satisfying a consume needs.  Also, you can’t talk your way into success.  You have to perform at every phase of the engineering program.  There are processes in place that aid our efforts along the way.  Some of these are as follows:

  • Six Sigma
  • Design for Six Sigma
  • QFD or Quality Functional Deployment
  • FMEA or Failure Mode Effect Analysis
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics
  • Reliability Engineering
  • HALT—Highly Accelerated Laboratory Testing
  • Engineering Reliability

There are others depending upon the branch of engineering in question.  There are also a large number of computer programs specifically written for each engineering discipline.

With that being the case, what would you say are the highest paying engineering salary levels by discipline?  You might be surprised.  I was.  The following slides basically speak for themselves and represent entry level, mid-level and high-paying salaries for graduate engineers.  Let’s take a look at the top ten (10).

BIOMEDICAL

I’m not surprised at biomedical engineering being in the top ten.  There is a huge demand for “bio-engineers” due to rapid advances in technology and significant needs relative to non-invasive medical investigations.

The next one, Civil Engineering, does surprise me a little although we live with a crumbling infrastructure.  Much more needs to be accomplished to redesign, replace and upgrade our roads, dams, bridges, levees, etc etc.  We are literally falling apart.CIVIL

The next two should not surprise anyone.  IT is driving innovation in our time and the need for computer programmers, hardware engineers and software engineers will only increase as time goes by.

COMPUTER ENGINERING HARDWARE

COMPUTER ENGINEERING SOFTWARE

Chemical engineering has always been one of the top engineering disciplines.  CEs can apply their “trade” to an extremely large number of endeavors.

CHEMICAL ENGINEERING

EE

During my time EEs were the highest paying jobs.  They still are.

Years ago, environmental engineering was included in the CE discipline. Today, it is important enough to stand alone and provide excellent salary levels.

ENVIRONMENTAL

GEOLOGY AND MINING

Geology and Mining engineering has taken off in recent years due to needs brought about by the oil industry.  More than ever, new sources of natural gas and oil are needed.  The term fracking was unknown ten and certainly twenty years ago.

Material Science is one of the most fascinating areas of investigation undertaken in today’s engineering world.  Composite structures, “additive” manufacturing, adhesives, and a host of other areas of materials engineering are producing needs throughout the profession.

Materials Science

MATERIALS AND SCIENCE

MECHANICAL

I am a mechanical engineer and greatly enjoy the work I do in designing work cells to automate manufacturing and assembly processes.  The field is absolutely wide open.

I hope you enjoy this very brief look at the top ten disciplines.  I also hope you will be encouraged to show this post to you children and grandchildren.  Explain what engineers do and how our profession benefits mankind.


Compressed Natural Gas or CNG is finding its way into a variety of applications, both commercial and residential.  Our country is looking for alternatives to petroleum-based products for transportation and CNG is one method to accomplish this desired outcome.

  • Global CNG demand was 61,668 MCM in 2013 and is expected to reach 108,957.9 MCM by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 8.5% from 2014 to 2020.
  • Light duty vehicles (LDV) were the largest CNG consuming segment and accounted for 48.3% of total market volume in 2013. Growth of passenger cars particularly in emerging markets of BRICS is expected to drive this segment. LDV is also expected to witness highest growth rate over the forecast period. The segment is expected to grow at an estimated CAGR of 9.1% from 2014 to 2020.
  • Asia Pacific was the leading regional CNG market and is expected to continue its dominance over the next six years in the global market. The region accounted for 46.6% of total market volume in 2013. Positive outlook on automotive industry coupled with government support to promote the use of alternative transportation fuel particularly in China and India is expected to drive the regional CNG market. Central & South America is expected to be the fastest growing regional market for CNG at an estimated CAGR of 17% from 2014 to 2020.
  • Highly fragmented CNG industry participants compete on the basis of price differentiation across various regions. Major industry participants operating in the global CNG market include National Iranian Gas Comp, Indraprastha Gas Ltd (IGL), China Natural Gas Inc and Mahanagar gas Ltd (MNGL).

Industry Analysis

In the United States, the CNG market has grown at a rate of 3.7% since the year 2000. The market for these products has seen slow growth to this point for the following reasons: 1.) Availability of the products, 2.) Heat build-up during the compression process, 3.) Time delays in the refilling process and 4.) The expense of locating CNG at the market locations. The areas of greatest growth in the CNG market are in the area of transporters that possess fleets (Tractor Trailers), Straight Trucks, and Public Transportation such as school and/or city buses. California and Texas lead the way with CNG fueling stations on a national level. There are approximately 1,300 CNG fueling stations in the US today; however, 730 are public stations with the remainder being private fleet stations.  To give you an idea as to the need, there are currently fewer than ten (10) public CNG filling stations within the Tri-State area of Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. Southeast Tennessee currently has no CNG fueling stations. The industry is rapidly changing as the 2014 EPA NHTSA Heavy Duty Truck Program has been put in place by President Obama. This legislation has forced fleet and fuel managers to reduce emissions as well as increase fuel efficiency. Small savings have been made by reducing drag, adequate tire pressure, and reduced idling practices. CNG is a “game changing” modification that addresses the new standards that are currently in place as well as future reductions that are scheduled for 2018.  The proper approach is to adopt a customer centric approach that addresses the needs of the immediate market based on available original equipment and after market manufacturers. Some industry pundits have estimated CNG will realize 25% annual growth for the next five (5) to ten (10) years on a conservative level.

Market Segment

Key points in defining the market segment for CNG are existing markets and projected future markets. Electric power and industrial markets make up almost 60% of the current consumer market. Existing markets include the fields of Agriculture, Industrial, and Motor Fuel in a static environment. Projected markets include opportunities in a more mobile environment. Transportation appears to be the most likely segment to grow as it makes up less than one percent (1%) of total natural gas used. Currently, the market is distributed with limited, if any, diversity of participants. Trending for share gains and losses typically represents large potential for gains across the entire industry. Share losses are predominantly absorbed by the diesel fuel and propane distributors, as recent supply shortages have clearly proven in the motor fuel and poultry industries. Market share will be lost by the above mentioned industries due to loss of confidence by the respective customer bases. The current and projected trends in the motor fuel industry are now driven by the Tier II Fuel Initiative causing off road diesel fuel to be banned in the near future. The result of the ban will continue to be increases in motor fuel pricing. As motor fuel costs increase, CNG becomes not only the clean alternative fuel replacement, but also the affordable alternative. CNG cuts the cost of a diesel equivalent gallon by as much as fifty percent (50%) based on the volatile and often fluctuating diesel market. Also, CNG is a much more effective fuel in cold weather areas as opposed to diesel and the multiple problems which exist.

The implied trends in the propane and agricultural industries currently indicate an extended, long-term propane supply shortage. The result is that CNG becomes the efficient, clean energy solution by cutting propane costs by twenty-five (25) to fifty percent (50%). Users of CNG are looking for quality and productivity improvements. The history of CNG development has resulted in the need for creative technology solutions that enable the full application of the CNG Natural Gas Industry. Recent patenting and innovation that Cielo has identified allows CAF to operate more efficiently than diesel or propane. The stability of this market segment is solid, based on CNG product category performance over the past two years. The forecasters predict an exponential growth over the next two years.

The major market segments for CNG are:

  • Agricultural, with customer applications being in the fields of poultry farming, grain drying, irrigation, hydroponics and propane displacement for remote locations with no historical access to natural gas.
  • Industrial, with customer applications in the fields of electric generators, heat production, lumber drying, and forklift fuel.
  • Motor Fuel, involving Duel Fuel Fleets and Designated Gasoline Fuel Fleets.

The Motor Fuel segment of the market is generally based on diesel with retail prices in the range of $3.50 to $4.00 per gallon. The vast majority of sales in this category will be handled by on site stations at fleet terminals or using the GTM model providing on demand fleet fueling. Transportation represents the largest sector of gas consumption and emissions in the US. The aforementioned legislation has forced fleet and fuel managers to prepare for potential penalties that could have dramatic balance sheet implications if found to not be compliant.

Over the past thirty (30) years, equipment manufacturing companies have proven that meaningful features can be developed for this class of fuel. These companies have primarily focused on the use of pipelines to improve the quality of transport in Natural Gas. These products have been successfully distributed in many areas of the industry, in a limited capacity.

In the next 5 to 10 years it is estimated that there will be more than 18 million vehicles on US highways. The market potential for CNG in these quantities–with a current retail price of $2.50 per DGE (Diesel Gallon Equivalent)–is approximately $2.6 billion per month in revenue with an equivalent net profit of $45 million dollars. This translates to a market share of approximately two percent (2%) of the overall market. An excellent comparison is the country of Iran has 3,300,000 natural gas vehicles on the road today compared to United States with 250,000 to 300,000.

In conclusion, CNG seems to be one very great possibility for commercial AND domestic transportation.  Only time will tell.  As always, I welcome your comments.

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