The International Space Station (ISS) has been in existence since 1969 in some form or the other.  A very quick history of its humble beginnings is given below.  Also, given below is a hyperlink to an absolutely fascinating UTUBE video of the existing ISS and various components of the internal workings of the station.  I do not know what I expected, but the facility is a marvelous combination of hardware, software and electronics.  I suppose when I thought of the ISS, I had in mind the deck of the Starship Enterprise.  Not even close—much more impressive.

A condensed version of the time line is given below but please go to the NASA website to get the extended chronology of the ISS.

  • On January 24, 1984, President Ronald Reagan commissioned NASA to build the international space station and to do so within the next 10 years.
  • On November 20, 1998 the first segment of the ISS launches: a Russian proton rocket named Zarya (“sunrise”).
  • On December 4, 1998, Unity, the first U.S.-built component of the International Space Station launches—the first Space Shuttle mission dedicated to assembly of the station.
  • The first crew to reside on the station was on November 2, 2000.  Astronaut Bill Shepherd and cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev become the first crew to reside onboard the station, staying several months.
  • U.S. Lab Module was Added February 7, 2001.  Destiny, the U.S. Laboratory module, becomes part of the station. Destiny continues to be the primary research laboratory for U.S. payloads.
  • The European Lab Joined the ISS February 7, 2008. The European Space Agency’s Columbus Laboratory becomes part of the station.
  • On March 11, 2008 the Japanese Lab joined the ISS.  The first Japanese Kibo laboratory module becomes part of the station.
  •  

HISTORY:

The International Space Station (ISS) took ten (10) years and more than thirty (30) missions to assemble. It is the result of unprecedented scientific and engineering collaboration among five space agencies representing fifteen (15) countries. The space station is approximately the size of a football field: a four hundred and sixty (460)-ton, permanently crewed platform orbiting two hundred and fifty (250) miles above Earth. It is about four times as large as the Russian space station Mir and five times as large as the U.S. Skylab.

The idea of a space station was once science fiction, existing only in the imagination until it became clear in the 1940s that construction of such a structure might be attainable by our nation. As the Space Age began in the 1950s, designs of “space planes” and stations dominated popular media. The first rudimentary station was created in 1969 by the linking of two Russian Soyuz vehicles in space, followed by other stations and developments in space technology until construction began on the ISS in 1998, aided by the first reusable spacecraft ever developed: the American shuttles.

Until recently, U.S. research space onboard the ISS had been reserved for mostly government initiatives, but new opportunities for commercial and academic use of the ISS are now available, facilitated by the ISS National Lab.

There is no way I can provide a better description of the ISS than the video I hope you will look at.  That hyperlink is given as follows:  Hope you enjoy it.

HOW IT WORKS: The International Space Station


Archimedes declared “Eureka I’ve found it”.  Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith of the “A-Team” said, “I love it when a plan comes together”. Boo-yah is a cry of success used by the Army. Well, down here in the South we call the act of discovery a Jubilation T. Cornpone moment.  Okay, have you ever made the statement: “I thought of that some months ago” only to lament the fact that you did not act appropriately and give your idea wings?  We all have. Let’s take a look at several “serendipity” moments that resulted in great discoveries being brought to commercialization.

  • Legend has it that Archimedes was about to bathe when he discovered that an object’s buoyancy force equals the weight of the fluid it displaces. Thrilled, he ran naked through Syracuse shouting “Eureka”.
  • According to biographers, Paul McCartney composed this melody in a dream at the Wimpole Street of then-girlfriend Jane Asher.  Upon waking, he rushed to a piano and played the tune to avoid forgetting it.  The tune was Yesterday.
  • Riding a streetcar in Bern, Switzerland, Einstein was struck by the sight of the city’s medieval clock tower—and was inspired to devise his elegant special theory of relativity: time can beat at different rates throughout the universe, depending on how fast you move.
  • We can all thank Josephine Knight Dickson for those ubiquitous adhesive bandages later known as Band-Aids.  She often cut and burned herself while cooking.  So, in 1920 these events prompted her husband, Earle, a Johnson cotton buyer, and Thomas Anderson to develop a prototype so Josephine could dress her wounds unaided.
  • At the tender age of fourteen (14) Philo Farnsworth was plowing a potato field when he suddenly realized how television could work.  The back-and-forth motion of the till inspired him to imagine how an electron beam could scan images line by line—the basis for almost all TVs until LCD and plasma screens.
  • 3M scientist Spencer Silver just could not interest the company in his low-tack, pressure-sensitive adhesive.  Then colleague Arthur Fry found an application—at choir practice. Coating the sticky stuff on paper, Fry reasoned, he could create stay-put paper in his hymnal as a bookmark.
  • GoPro visionary Nick Woodman invented his wrist-strap-mounted, 35-millimeter camera while trying to capture his passion surfing on film. He turned it into a business that, at its height, was worth eleven (11) billion dollars.
  • The quickie oven (microwave) was born while engineer Percy Spencer was working on magnetrons for military radar sets.  When a candy bar in his pocket melted near various radar components, Spencer realized microwaves could penetrate the exterior of a food and cook it from inside out-unlike old-school ovens that cook from the outside in.
  • In 1905, eleven (11) year old Frank Epperson of Oakland, California mixed sugary soda power with water and left it out on a cold winter’s night.  The concoction froze-and proved delicious when he licked it off the wooden stirrer. Epperson, who died in 1983, dubbed his accidental treat the Epsicle and later patented it.  He sold the rights in 1925.
  • One day in 1941, George de Mestral took his dog for a walk in the Swiss woods.  When returning, he noticed burrs stuck to his pants–which refused to be removed. Under a microscope, de Mestral saw that the burrs had tiny hooks that attached themselves to thread loops in his pants.  Sensing a business opportunity, he connected with a Lyon fabric manufacturing firm and named the product with portmanteau of “velvet” and “crochet”—French for hook.
  • At the height of WWII, a mechanical engineer named Richard James was trying to devise springs that could keep sensitive ship equipment steady at sea.  After accidentally knocking spring samples from a shelf, he watched in astonishment as the springs gracefully “walked” down instead of falling. Teaming with his wife, Betty, James developed a plan for the wonderful novelty toy Slinky.

All of these “inventions” were waiting to happen but just depended upon creative minds to bring them into fruition.  This is the manner in which creativity works.  Suddenly with great flashes of brilliance.


We all love to see where we are relative to others within our same profession especially when it comes to salaries.  Are we ahead—behind—saying even?  That is one question whose answer is good to know.  Also, and possibly more importantly, where will the engineering profession be in a few years.  Is this a profession I would recommend to my son or daughter?  Let’s take a look at the engineering profession to discover where we are and where we are going.  All “numbers” come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Graphics are taken from Design News Daily.   I’m going to describe the individual disciplines with digitals.  I think that makes more sense.

The BLS projects growth in all engineering jobs through the middle of the next decade. For the engineering profession as a whole, BLS projects 194,300 new jobs during the coming ten (10) years. The total number of current engineering jobs is 1,681,000. I think that’s low compared to the number of engineers required.  (NOTE: I may state right now we are talking about degreed engineers; i.e. BS, MS, and PhD engineers.)

The average salary for an engineer is $91,010. The average across all engineering disciplines may not be particularly meaningful. The following slides who the average salaries for individual engineering disciplines.

These fields cover the major areas of engineering. Hope you enjoyed this one. Show it to your kids and grandkids.


I don’t know if you are in the market for a new car but J.D. Power has recently completed a quality study for the 2019 U.S. models.  New-vehicle quality in 2019 stays flat compared with 2018, marking the first year without improvement since 2014, according to the J.D. Power 2019 Initial Quality Study (IQS), SM recently released.   More brands worsened than improved over the past 12 months.  Not good but good to know.  We are going to take a look at the key findings and present the rankings in a gar graph.  That bar graph is presented later in this post.

“Automakers continue to make progress in areas like infotainment that attract a lot of consumer attention,” said Dave Sargent, Vice President of Global Automotive at J.D. Power. “However, some traditional problems crept up this year including paint imperfections, brake and suspension noises, engines not starting and the ‘check engine’ light coming on early in the ownership experience. Also, more people are having issues with their advanced driver assistance systems, which are critical for building consumer trust in future automated vehicles.”

Initial quality is measured by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100) during the first ninety (90) days of ownership, with a lower score reflecting higher quality. In this year’s study, only thirteen (13) brands improved, while 18 worsened. The industry average remained unchanged at ninety-three (93) PP100.

Following are key findings of the 2019 study:

  • Gap between Korean brands and others continues to widen: The three highest-ranking brands—Genesis, Kia and Hyundai—are all from Korean manufacturer Hyundai Motor Group, and the gap between these three brands and all others has widened considerably. Remarkably, six teen (16) of eighteen (18) models from Hyundai Motor Group rank in the top three in their respective segments. These vehicles tend to perform especially well in the areas of infotainment and other electronic components.
  • Domestic brands above average: Ford (83 PP100), Lincoln (84 PP100), Chevrolet (85 PP100), Dodge (90 PP100) and Buick (92 PP100) all perform better than the industry average of 93 PP100. Overall, Domestic-branded vehicles perform close to the average in most areas.
  • All European brands are below average: In contrast to the success of the Korean automakers and the leading domestic and Japanese brands, all ten (10) European marques are below average. The largest gaps for the European vehicles are infotainment and other electronics.
  • Porsche 911 again achieves the best score of any model: The Porsche 911, with just fifty-eight (58) PP100, has the best score of any model for the second consecutive year.
  • Infotainment problems are decreasing: Infotainment remains the most problematic category for new-vehicle owners. However, this area is the most improved from 2018, led by fewer problems for voice recognition and Bluetooth.
  • Problems with driver assistance systems are increasing: As advanced driver assistance systems become more widespread and increasingly complex, more owners are indicating problems. The average for premium brands is 6.1 PP100, up from 5.0 last year, while the average for mass market brands is 3.5 PP100.
  • New and redesigned vehicles still trail carryover vehicles: Vehicles that were launched in 2019 have an average problem level of 103 PP100, which equals the best score ever. However, this is still well below the score for carryover models, which have an average problem level of 91 PP100.

Highest Ranking Brands:

Genesis ranks highest in overall initial quality with a score of just sixty-three (63) PP100. Kia (70 PP100) places second and Hyundai (71 PP100) ranks third. This is the second year in a row that the three Korean brands are at the top of the overall ranking, and it is the fifth consecutive year that Kia is the highest-ranked mass market brand. Ford (83 PP100) ranks fourth and Lincoln (84 PP100) ranks fifth, marking the first time both Ford Motor Company brands place in the top five in the same year.

Land Rover is the most-improved brand, with owners reporting thirty-seven (37) PP100 fewer problems than in 2018. Other brands with strong improvements include Jaguar (18 PP100 improvement), and Dodge and Volvo (each with 8 PP100 improvement). This is the highest Dodge has ever ranked in the study.

The parent corporation receiving the most model-level awards is Hyundai Motor Group (six awards), followed by General Motors Company (five); BMW AG (three); Ford Motor Company (two) and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (two).

  • Hyundai Motor Group models that rank highest in their respective segments are Genesis G70; Hyundai Santa Fe; Kia Forte; Kia Rio; Kia Sedona; and Kia Sportage.
  • General Motors Company models that rank highest in their segments are Cadillac Escalade; Chevrolet Equinox; Chevrolet Malibu; Chevrolet Silverado HD; and Chevrolet Tahoe.
  • BMW AG models that rank highest in their segments are BMW 2 Series; BMW X4; and MINI Cooper.
  • Ford Motor Company models that rank highest in their segments are Ford Fusion and Ford Ranger.
  • Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. models that rank highest in their segments are Nissan Maxima and Nissan Titan.

Other models that rank highest in their respective segments are Dodge Challenger, Lexus RX and Mercedes-Benz CLS.

You can see the pictorial ranking as follows:


Portions of this post are taken from “Design News Daily Magazine”, online version, FW 18, 2019.

I often hear there will come a time when education will be completely online, in other words, no classroom.  The teacher will lecture via the internet and all classes may come to us through video conferencing or SKYPE-like services.  I know I am ‘old-school” but I do not think that will nearly fill all requirements students have relative to obtaining enough information and structure needed to enter the workforce after graduation.  I KNOW, eliminating the classroom will not suffice as far as fulfilling an engineering degree that is usable. (Usable is the operative word here.)  There is too much give-and take in the classroom for that to occur.   Too many questions would go unanswered providing a dearth of preparation for the “outside and real” world.

The factor that just may prove me incorrect is the cost of an engineering education.  Getting an engineering degree is tough, and the soaring cost of colleges doesn’t make it any easier. For many years, college costs have been rising at twice the rate of inflation, and today’s most expensive engineering degrees reflect that, having recently cracked the seventy thousand dollars ($70,000)-a-year plateau.

To be sure, all of those seventy thousand plus schools offer financial aid, often in substantial amounts. In some cases, the final dollar figure may be comparable to that of a state school after all the aid is totaled up. That, of course, is if the applicant receives financial aid. I am using current figures from US News & World Reports Best Colleges, and have put together a list of the most expensive engineering schools in the US. All of the colleges on the list offer great educations. You really need to sit down for this one.  Here we go.

1. Harvey Mudd College, $75,003. The country’s most expensive engineering degree belongs to a school that may not have the Harvard- or MIT-name-brand, but nevertheless features a top-notch engineering program. In this year’s edition of US News & World Reports Best Colleges, Mudd tied for first as the best engineering program among schools where the top degree is a bachelors or masters. A tiny school with just 844 students, Mudd takes a different approach to education. A big part of the school’s method involves fellowships for students, enabling them to make a strong connection between engineering theory and the real world. The final cost — $75,003 – includes tuition, room and board. About 50% of “Mudders,” as its students are known, receive financial aid, with $43,208 being the average package. (Image source: Wikipedia/by Imagine)

2. Columbia University, $73,446. Columbia University’s engineering school is the country’s third oldest, and is ranked 18th among schools whose highest degree is a Ph.D. The New York City-based college is extremely selective, offering entry to only about 6% of applicants. The average accepted applicant has an ACT score ranging between 32-35, with 96% in the top 10% of their class. Financial aid is generous – averaging about $58,000 – but only about half of incoming students receive such aid. (Image source: Wikipedia/by Andrew Chen)

3. University of Southern California, $71,625. As private universities go, USC is a whopper, with about 18,000 undergraduates, of which about 10% are enrolled in engineering. US News & World Report ranks USC’s Viterbi Engineering School 24th among colleges whose highest degree is a Ph.D. Departments include mechanical, aerospace, astronautical, biomedical, industrial, chemical, electrical, and civil. About 38% of admitted students receive financial aid, with the average package being $51,509. (Image source: Wikipedia/by Bestweekevr)

4. University of Pennsylvania, $71,200. A private university in the Ivy League, the University of Pennsylvania is both a great and expensive source of education. Its engineering school is legendary for its development of the first general-purpose computer, ENIAC, in 1946. US News & World Report ranks it 24th among engineering schools whose highest degree is a Ph.D. About 46% of students receive financial aid, with the average package being $48,971. (Image source: Wikipedia/by Bryan Y.W. Shin)

5. Northwestern University, $71,193. Northwestern University in Evanston, IL features one of the premier engineering colleges in the US, with a ranking of 14th from US News & World Report. It is, however, extremely selective, with only about 9% of candidates accepted. The average incoming ACT is 32-35, and 91% of accepted applicants are in the top 10% of their high school class. About 45% of undergrads receive financial aid, with the average package coming to $49,030. (Image source: Wikipedia)

6. Tufts University, $70,942. Tufts University of Medford, MA, isn’t a household name, but it’s a stellar, highly selective school. In 2019, only 14% of applicants were admitted, and the average incoming student had an ACT score ranging from 31-34. About 9% of Tufts’ small undergrad population (enrollment, 5,483) is enrolled in the engineering curriculum. Its engineering school is ranked 59th among those whose highest degree is a Ph.D. Financial aid is awarded to 38% of applicants. (Image source: Wikipedia/by Halpaugh)

7. Dartmouth College, $70,791. New Hampshire-based Dartmouth College is a liberal arts school, and as such gives a bachelor of arts degree (B.A.) to all engineering science majors, then encourages them to stay on and earn a Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) degree. Like all Ivy League schools, it’s extremely selective, with only about 10% of applicants gaining admission. Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering is ranked 48th among schools whose top degree is a Ph.D. About 50% of undergrads receive financial aid, with the average package coming to $50,625. (Image source: Wikipedia/by Kane5187)

8. Brown University, $70,326. Brown University in Providence, RI, is yet another of the highly-selective Ivies, with only about 8% of applicants being admitted. It’s engineering college, which makes up about 6% of Brown’s undergrad population, is ranked 38th among schools whose highest degree is a Ph.D. About 44% of new students receive financial aid, with the average package being $49,269. (Image source: Wikipedia/by Apavio

9. Smith College, $69,924. Smith College in Northampton, MA is typically thought of as a liberal arts school, and is in fact rated 11th among all the nation’s liberal arts colleges by US News & World Report. Still, the small all-women’s school completed a new science and engineering facility in 2009, with the idea that it would “blur the boundaries between traditional disciplines, creating an optimum environment for students and faculty to address key scientific and technological developments of our time.” Smith’s engineering program is ranked 15th among schools whose top degree is a bachelors or masters. (Image source: Wikipedia/by Samasinter)

10. Carnegie Mellon University, $69,883. Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh has long been regarded as one of the nation’s premier engineering schools. In 2019, US News & World Report ranked it sixth among schools whose highest degree is a Ph.D. The university is relatively small, with an undergrad population of just 6,664, but engineering makes up a whopping 24% of those students. Carnegie Mellon is world-renown for its work in robotics, with many of its grad students filling key spots in companies making autonomous cars. About 39% of undergrads receive financial aid, with the average package being $43,182. (Image source: Wikipedia/by Dllu).

CONCLUSION:  You will notice that MIT, Stanford, Georgia Tech, Duke, Rose-Hulman, University of Wisconsin, Perdue, etc. were not even mentioned.  These are remarkable schools when considering an engineering degree.  Really, most accredited engineering universities do an excellent job, certainly for undergraduate work leading to a BS in engineering.  Look at the faculty, the location, the cost and you will do just fine choosing a university that meets all of your engineering-student needs.

SMARTS

March 17, 2019


Who was the smartest person in the history of our species? Solomon, Albert Einstein, Jesus, Nikola Tesla, Isaac Newton, Leonardo de Vinci, Stephen Hawking—who would you name.  We’ve had several individuals who broke the curve relative to intelligence.   As defined by the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language, IQ:

“an intelligence test score that is obtained by dividing mental age, which reflects the age-graded level of performance as derived from population norms, by chronological age and multiplying by100: a score of100 thus indicates performance at exactly the normal level for that age group. Abbreviation: IQ”

An intelligence quotient or IQ is a score derived from one of several different intelligence measures.  Standardized tests are designed to measure intelligence.  The term “IQ” is a translation of the German Intellizenz Quotient and was coined by the German psychologist William Stern in 1912.  This was a method proposed by Dr. Stern to score early modern children’s intelligence tests such as those developed by Alfred Binet and Theodore Simin in the early twentieth century.  Although the term “IQ” is still in use, the scoring of modern IQ tests such as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale is not based on a projection of the subject’s measured rank on the Gaussian Bell curve with a center value of one hundred (100) and a standard deviation of fifteen (15).  The Stanford-Binet IQ test has a standard deviation of sixteen (16).  As you can see from the graphic below, seventy percent (70%) of the human population has an IQ between eighty-five and one hundred and fifteen.  From one hundred and fifteen to one hundred and thirty you are considered to be highly intelligent.  Above one hundred and thirty you are exceptionally gifted.

What are several qualities of highly intelligent people?  Let’s look.

QUALITIES:

  • A great deal of self-control.
  • Very curious
  • They are avid readers
  • They are intuitive
  • They love learning
  • They are adaptable
  • They are risk-takers
  • They are NOT over-confident
  • They are open-minded
  • They are somewhat introverted

You probably know individuals who fit this profile.  We are going to look at one right now:  John von Neumann.

JON von NEUMANN:

The Financial Times of London celebrated John von Neumann as “The Man of the Century” on Dec. 24, 1999. The headline hailed him as the “architect of the computer age,” not only the “most striking” person of the 20th century, but its “pattern-card”—the pattern from which modern man, like the newest fashion collection, is cut.

The Financial Times and others characterize von Neumann’s importance for the development of modern thinking by what are termed his three great accomplishments, namely:

(1) Von Neumann is the inventor of the computer. All computers in use today have the “architecture” von Neumann developed, which makes it possible to store the program, together with data, in working memory.

(2) By comparing human intelligence to computers, von Neumann laid the foundation for “Artificial Intelligence,” which is taken to be one of the most important areas of research today.

(3) Von Neumann used his “game theory,” to develop a dominant tool for economic analysis, which gained recognition in 1994 when the Nobel Prize for economic sciences was awarded to John C. Harsanyi, John F. Nash, and Richard Selten.

John von Neumann, original name János Neumann, (born December 28, 1903, Budapest, Hungary—died February 8, 1957, Washington, D.C. Hungarian-born American mathematician. As an adult, he appended von to his surname; the hereditary title had been granted his father in 1913. Von Neumann grew from child prodigy to one of the world’s foremost mathematicians by his mid-twenties. Important work in set theory inaugurated a career that touched nearly every major branch of mathematics. Von Neumann’s gift for applied mathematics took his work in directions that influenced quantum theory theory of automation, economics, and defense planning. Von Neumann pioneered game theory, and, along with Alan Turing and Claude Shannon was one of the conceptual inventors of the stored-program digital computer .

Von Neumann did exhibit signs of genius in early childhood: he could joke in Classical Greek and, for a family stunt, he could quickly memorize a page from a telephone book and recite its numbers and addresses. Von Neumann learned languages and math from tutors and attended Budapest’s most prestigious secondary school, the Lutheran Gymnasium . The Neumann family fled Bela Kun’s short-lived communist regime in 1919 for a brief and relatively comfortable exile split between Vienna and the Adriatic resort of Abbazia. Upon completion of von Neumann’s secondary schooling in 1921, his father discouraged him from pursuing a career in mathematics, fearing that there was not enough money in the field. As a compromise, von Neumann simultaneously studied chemistry and mathematics. He earned a degree in chemical engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute in  Zurich and a doctorate in mathematics (1926) from the University of Budapest.

OK, that all well and good but do we know the IQ of Dr. John von Neumann?

John Von Neumann IQ is 190, which is considered as a super genius and in top 0.1% of the population in the world.

With his marvelous IQ, he wrote one hundred and fifty (150) published papers in his life; sixty (60) in pure mathematics, twenty (20) in physics, and sixty (60) in applied mathematics. His last work, an unfinished manuscript written while in the hospital and later published in book form as The Computer and the Brain, gives an indication of the direction of his interests at the time of his death. It discusses how the brain can be viewed as a computing machine. The book is speculative in nature, but discusses several important differences between brains and computers of his day (such as processing speed and parallelism), as well as suggesting directions for future research. Memory is one of the central themes in his book.

I told you he was smart!


With the federal government pulling out of manned space flight, it gave private companies ample opportunity to fill in the gaps.  Of course, these companies MUST have adequate funding, trained personnel and proper facilities to launch their version(s) of equipment, support and otherwise that will take man and equipment to the outer reaches of space.  The list of companies was quite surprising to me.  Let’s take a look.

These are just the launch vehicles.  There is also a huge list of manufacturers making man-rovers and orbiters, research craft and tech demonstrators, propulsion manufacturers, satellite launchers, space manufacturing, space mining, space stations, space settlements, spacecraft component manufacturers and developers, and spaceliner companies.   I will not publish that list but these companies are available for discovery by putting in the heading for each category.  To think we are not involved in space is obviously a misnomer.

 

%d bloggers like this: