September 7, 2016

The convergence of mechanical and electronic engineering, coupled with embedded software, has produced an engineering discipline called mechatronics.  The “official” definition of mechatronics is as follows:

A multidisciplinary field of science that includes a combination of mechanical engineering, electronics, computer science, telecommunications engineering, systems engineering and control engineering”.

Technical systems have become more and more complex, requiring multiple disciplines for accomplishment of product designs that satisfy the needs of consumers and industrial markets.  If you read the technical literature, you have run across the phrase “the internet of things” or IoT. IoT is the interworking of physical devices, vehicles, buildings, airplanes, consumer appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and network connectivity enabling these devices and objects to collect and exchange data.

If I may, let’s now take a look at several fascinating numbers:

  • The world-wide public cloud services market is projected to grow 16.5% in 2016 to a total of $204 billion. This is up from $175 billion in 2015.  The world-wide X86 server virtualization market is expected to reach $5.6 billion in 2016, an increase of 5.7% from 2015 (Gartner, Inc.)
  • In July of this year, Apple announced it had recently sold its billionth iPhone since introduction in 2007.
  • The number of mobility devices managed from 2014 to 2015 increased 72%. (Citrix, “7 Enterprise Mobility Statistics You Should Know.”
  • 58% of consumers would consider eventually owning/riding in an autonomous automobile. (Deloitte 2015 Global Mobile Consumer Survey.)
  • The number of connected devices world-wide will rise from 15 billion today to 50 billion by 2020. (Cisco/DHL Trend Report, April 2015)
  • By 2020, 90% of cars will be online, compared with just 2% in 2012. (Telefonica, Connected Car Report 2013)
  • Nearly half (48%) of consumers check their phones up to 25 times per day. (Deloitte 2015 Global Mobile Survey)
  • The US mobile worker population will increase from 96.2 million in 2015 to 105.4 million mobile workers in 2020. (IDC, “US Mobile Worker Forecast,2015-2020.)
  • Mobile workers will account for nearly three quarters (72.3%) of the total U.S. workforce. (IDC,” U.S. Mobile Worker Forecast, 2015-2020.)
  • 86% of those ages 18-29 have a smartphone. 83% of those ages 30-49 have a smartphone. 87% if these percentages are for those living in households earning $75,000 and up.

To keep pace with the design of complex, connected products requires engineers from different disciplines working closely together.  These engineers will be from different disciplines and will coordinate on design, simulation, prototyping and testing.  It also requires real-time input from co-workers outside engineering departments. For this reason, our schools and universities MUST alter their teaching methods to attract and train individuals capable of working to bring the U.S. population these marvelous advances in technology.  This not only means in the product development area but in manufacturing also.  Many companies see technology as a means to redefine what it means to be a manufacturer.  Thanks to the growing popularity of IoT in industrial and consumer products, design complexity shown no signs of slowing.

I cannot wait to see what the future holds.


October 30, 2013

There are thousands of people that really don’t know what engineers do on a daily basis.   Several years ago, I was working in the front yard desperately trying to get grass seed down before a Saturday afternoon rain.  A new neighbor came down the street and I moved out to welcome him to the “hood” and say hello.  During our conversation he indicated he was an accountant and asked what I did for a living.   Engineer, I replied.  “I love trains” was his comment.   No, I’m a mechanical engineer, not a train conductor.   What do you guys do, I’ve always wondered?   At this point, I went into some detail as to what differing disciplines of engineering were available to an entering university freshman.  He was blown away by the reality.   This ‘ol boy is a graduate accountant—CPA at that and he had no idea as to what the engineering profession was all about.  ( Oh by the way—he does NOT do my taxes.)

Given below are several comments made by prominent people concerning the engineering profession?  They are truly enlightening.  Take a look.

  • “Scientists investigate that which already is. Engineers create that which has never been.”

Albert Einstein

  • “Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems.” “Normal people … believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t have enough features yet.”

— Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert comic strip

  • “I think one problem we’ve had is that people who are smart and creative as engineers went into financial engineering.”

— Walter Isaacson, writer and biographer of Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein

  • “You never see girls running after engineers.”

— Anthony Mackie, actor, on why he chose the Juilliard School over an engineering curriculum

  • “Scientists dream about doing great things. Engineers do them.”

-– James A. Michener, American author and Pulitzer Prize winner

  • “Engineer undergraduates should not be charged fees. They should receive grants, not student loans, and the government will get the money back long-term from increased exports.”  “Engineering is treated with disdain, on the whole. It’s considered to be rather boring and irrelevant, yet neither of those is true.”

— James Dyson, inventor and founder of the Dyson Co.

  • “I emphasize that virtually every engineering calculation is ultimately a failure calculation, because without a failure criterion against which to measure the calculated result, it is a meaningless number.”

-– Henry Petroski, author, and professor of civil engineering and history at Duke University

  • “You have teenagers thinking they’re going to make millions as NBA stars when that’s not realistic even for one percent of them. Becoming a scientist or engineer is.”

— Dean Kamen, inventor, founder of First Robotics Competition, past Design News Engineer of the Year

  • “I went to engineering school, I went to physics class. I said, ‘Screw this; I don’t want to be here. I’d much rather be at a club playing music.’”

-– Huey Lewis, musician and songwriter, best known for his band, “Huey Lewis and the News

  • “The engineering is long gone in most PC companies. In the consumer electronics companies, they don’t understand the software parts of it. And so you really can’t make the products that you can make at Apple anywhere else right now.”

-– Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc.

  • “A good scientist is a person with original ideas. A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few original ideas as possible. There are no prima donnas in engineering.”

-– Freeman Dyson, British-American theoretical physicist and mathematician

  • “I was always a silent comedy nerd. I would stay up late and sneak downstairs to watch ‘Saturday Night Live’ and ‘Kids in the Hall.’ And things like that. Very early on, my parents realized I was not going to be an engineer or a doctor. I just don’t have those inclinations at all.”

-– Mindy Kaling, actress, comedian.

  • “I was always fascinated by engineering. Maybe it was an attempt to get my father’s respect or interest, or maybe it was just a genetic love of technology, but I was always trying to build things.”

-– James Cameron, director

  • “A lot of people think in terms of people, emotions and feelings. That’s more complicated. Engineering mentality makes it, in theory, a little easier.”

— Marc Andreessen, software engineer and co-author of Mosaic, the first widely used Web browser

  • “There’s nothing I believe in more strongly than getting young people interested in science and engineering, for a better tomorrow, for all humankind.”

-– Bill Nye, science educator, television host, mechanical engineer

  • “With engineering, I view this year’s failure as next year’s opportunity to try it again. Failures are not something to be avoided. You want to have them happen as quickly as you can so you can make progress rapidly.”

Gordon Moore, co-founder, chairman emeritus, Intel Corp.

  • “It’s true that the original idea was mine, but what you see today is probably the work of tens of thousands of the world’s best engineers, all concentrating on improving the product, reducing the cost, things of that sort.”

-– Jack Kilby, Nobel Prize winner, co-inventor of the integrated circuit

  • “Silicon Valley has some of the smartest engineers and technology business people in the world.”

-– Elon Musk, CEO and chief product architect, Tesla Motors

  • “I worked with such concentration and focus and I had hundreds of obscure engineering or programming things in my head. I was just real exceptional in that way.”

-– Steve Wozniak, computer engineer and co-founder of Apple Inc.

  • “There is nothing in machinery, there is nothing in embankments and railways and iron bridges and engineering devices to oblige them to be ugly. Ugliness is a measure of imperfection.”

-– H.G. Wells, author of The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and The Invisible Man.

  • “Millions of people were inspired by the Apollo Program. I was 5 years old when I watched Apollo 11 unfold on television, and without any doubt it was a big contributor to my passions for science, engineering, and exploration.”

— Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com


  • “I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer.”

–- Neil Armstrong, astronaut



June 1, 2013

The following information was taken from FORBES MAGAZINE.

The past few months various corporations have been greatly criticized for paying few if any Federal corporate taxes.  Keep in mind, they follow existing tax codes but they simply find “loopholes” that allow them to minimize tax liabilities. Don’t we do the very same?  I know I do. FORBES MAGAZINE just published a list of twenty-five (25) companies and the taxes they did pay in 2012.  It’s quite a list and very telling.  Let’s take a look.  (PLEASE NOTE: These are not in any order.  You may do that on your own. )

  •   Wells Fargo
  • JP Morgan-Chase
    • $8.1 Billion in Taxes
    • $22.9 Billion in Net Income
    •  26% Effective Tax Rate
  • Apple
    • $ 14.2 Billion in Taxes
    • $41.7 Billion in Net Income
    •  25% Effective Tax Rate
  • Chevron
    • $20 Billion in Taxes
    • $26 Billion in Net Income
    •  43% Effective Tax Rate
  • Exxon Mobile
    • $31 Billion in Taxes
    • $45 Billion in Net Income
    • 39% Effective Tax Rate
  • Wal-Mart
    • $8 Billion in Taxes
    •  $17 Billion in Net Income
    • 31% Effective Tax Rate
  • Conoco
    • $7.9 Billion in Taxes
    • $8.4 Billion in Net Income
    • 51.4% Effective Tax Rate
  • Berkshire Hathaway
    • $6.9 Billion in Taxes
    • $14.8 Billion in Net Income
    •  28% Effective Tax Rate
  • IBM
    • $5.3 Billion in Taxes
    • $ 16.6 Billion in Net Income
    • 24% Effective Tax Rate
  • Microsoft
    • $4.6 Billion in Taxes
    • $ 15.5 Billion in Net Income
    •  22.8% Effective Tax Rate
  • Phillip Morris
    • $3.8 Billion in Taxes
    •  $8.8 Billion in Net Income
    •  29.5% Effective Tax Rate
  • Goldman Sachs
    • $3.7 Billion in Taxes
    • $7.6 Billion in Net Income
    • 33% Effective Tax Rate
  • Comcast
    • $3.7 Billion in Taxes
    • $6.2 Billion in Net Income
    • 32% Effective Tax Rate
  • Procter & Gamble
    • $3.6 Billion in Taxes
    • $12.9 Billion in Net Income
    • 23.5% Effective Tax Rate
  • Johnson & Johnson
    • $3.3 Billion in Taxes
    • $10.9 Billion in Net Income
    • 23.7% Effective Tax Rate
  • Intel
    • $3.2 Billion in Taxes
    • $ 10.3 Billion in Net Income
    • 23.6% Effective Tax Rate
  • Occidental Petroleum
    • $3.1 Billion in Taxes
    • $4.6 Billion in Net Income
    • 42% Effective Tax Rate
  • United Health Care
    • $ 3.1 Billion in Taxes
    • $5.3 Billion in Net Income
    • 33.9% Effective Tax Rate
  • Walt Disney
    • $3.0 Billion in Taxes
    • $  5.6 Billion in Net Income
    • 32.7% Effective Tax Rate
  • At&T
    • $2.9 Billion in Taxes
    • $7.3 Billion in Net Income
    • 27.8% Effective Tax Rate
  • Oracle
    • $2.9 Billion in Taxes
    •  $10.6 Billion in Net Income
    • 21.4% Effective Tax Rate
  • Coca-Cola
    • $2.7 Billion in Taxes
    • $9.0 Billion in Net Income
    • 23.1% Effective Tax Rate
  • Home Depot
    • $2.7 Billion in Taxes
    • $4.5 Billion in Net Income
    • 37.2% Effective Tax Rate
  • McDonalds
    • $2.6 Billion in Taxes
    • $ 5.5 Billion in Net Income
    • 32.4% Effective Tax Rate
  • Google
    • $2.6 Billion in Taxes
    • $ 10.7 Billion in Net Income
    • 19.4% Effective Tax Rate

In looking at a summary:

TOTAL TAXES: $ 157.70 Billion

                TOTAL NET INCOME:  $382.9 Billion


I run a small three-man engineering consulting firm.  My taxes run approximately 41%; i.e. Federal, city, country, etc etc.  I definitely feel our tax rates are much too high.  We are taxing those companies providing valuable services AND providing valuable employment.  Does anyone really think the codes will change for the better?  Congress and the IRS will never relinquish control and they do that by taking from those who work for a living.  The value-added is not really balanced.  I welcome your viewpoint.

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