Paul J. Heney's Blog (26)

Racing for a global advantage in manufacturing

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation is a non-partisan think tank that works to formulate and promote policies to advance technological innovation. President Robert Atkinson recently spoke to a group of industrial component manufacturers at the Annual Conference of the National Fluid Power Association about the economics of innovation.

Atkinson spent a good deal of time talking about the so-called Great Recession, the worst recession this country has seen since…


Added by Paul J. Heney on May 1, 2013 at 9:54am — No Comments

Will female engineers ever get a break?

Fascinating story developing about a sexist obituary that the New York Times wrote about a female rocket scientist. They started off with this:

Yvonne Brill, a Pioneering Rocket Scientist, Dies at 88

Published: March 30, 2013

She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from…


Added by Paul J. Heney on April 3, 2013 at 6:11am — 8 Comments

The trouble with Nissan

Until recently, I was happy with my car. In fact, I’d say that my current vehicle, a 2005 Nissan Murano, is maybe the car I’ve been most pleased with over the years.

So, what happened? A couple months ago, my left side speakers began to go on and off intermittently—so I assumed it was probably a loose wire and not an individual speaker issue. I had the vehicle in to the dealership for another issue, and I asked them to look at it.

After pulling the stereo, the service fellow…


Added by Paul J. Heney on February 17, 2012 at 9:31am — 2 Comments

The art of design

It’s fascinating to see old cell phones in movies from the 80s and 90s. I’m amazed not just at the obnoxious sizes of the devices, but also at the lack of elegance in the designs. That’s not to berate the designers who crafted the phones, but it shows how much the art of design has come to the forefront in engineering today. Steve Jobs famously employed design to move technology forward. With his passing, many of us are asking, “Who is going to lead that charge now?”

Certainly the…


Added by Paul J. Heney on February 7, 2012 at 11:01am — 1 Comment

The mystery of the ziplock omelet: Is it toxic?

So, a coworker related to me how his mother-in-law made an omelet by combining the raw ingredients in a plastic ziplock bag, sealing it, and boiling it in water for 14 minutes. I was a bit skeptical, but tried it last night, and it worked like a dream. It was so easy, didn't require any skill and there was absolutely no clean up required. I should add that it also tasted fantastic.

I posted on Facebook about it, and was surprised that many people hated on the idea. One of the…


Added by Paul J. Heney on December 16, 2011 at 7:32am — 9 Comments

Robotic designs look to nature for inspiration

If there are no new ideas, why not look to the oldest idea generator around — evolution.

The concept of using nature as inspiration for mechanical design has been around for a long time. What young engineer hasn’t heard the story of George de Mestral, the Swiss electrical engineer who invented Velcro? de Mestral famously took his dog for a hike, and upon…


Added by Paul J. Heney on December 15, 2011 at 11:34am — 2 Comments

Inspiration via nature or technology?


If Einstein had been born 100 years later, would he still have invented relativity?

That question came up during my fascinating discussion with Howie Choset, Professor of Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute. Howie’s lab has done some brilliant work with developing a variety of snake robots, which crawl and climb in amazing ways. He teased me that he didn’t want to be pigeon-holed as “the snake robot guy,” and for sure he shouldn’t be, given the…


Added by Paul J. Heney on December 8, 2011 at 7:24am — 1 Comment

World Energy Council sees a radically different transport sector by 2050

The World Energy Council (WEC) expects that transport fuel demand in the next forty years will come mainly from developing countries such as China and India, where demand will grow by 200 to 300%. In contrast, the transport fuel demand for the developed countries will drop by up to 20%, mainly due to increased efficiencies. The demand of the developing countries is expected to surpass that of the developed countries by the year 2025.

The report also sets out that oil may still…


Added by Paul J. Heney on December 8, 2011 at 7:11am — No Comments

When engineers write ...

Great stuff from The O Pine blog — and courtesy of our own Leslie Langnau, who found this.


Have an engineer write this sentence:


"I went to the grocery store to buy some bread, a case of Mountain Dew, and a copy of Swimsuit Nerds." 

... and you'll get:

"I went to the grocery store, a place where thousands of goods, primarily foodstuffs but also including household wares of various types, are sold to the public at a slight markup from the…


Added by Paul J. Heney on November 8, 2011 at 9:14am — 3 Comments

Booth duty for engineers (or how to fail at a tradeshow)

Industrial tradeshows are necessary evils. People who don’t travel seem to think they’re comprised of an endless array of fantastic locales, amazing meals and endless partying. The reality is more about sore feet and legs, unhealthy convention center food, excessively long customer dinners, and that dreaded phrase, booth duty.

Tradeshows can be an effective way to make contacts, learn about new trends and help your company’s sales. Engineers who are forced to staff a booth are…


Added by Paul J. Heney on October 19, 2011 at 2:00pm — 1 Comment

The Internet & deep thinking

The question of whether the “the Internet is making us stupid” has been raised countless times. But rarely has it been done so with more insight than in Nicholas Carr’s recent book, What the Internet is Doing to our Brains. Carr gives a fascinating rundown about the history of human communication, and even discusses how people back in the day thought inventions like the printing press were going to be the death knell for human intelligence.


With hindsight, we see that…


Added by Paul J. Heney on October 17, 2011 at 9:44am — 1 Comment

Can we get by without nuclear power?

When we first saw the horrible footage of the Japanese earthquake and the devastating tsunami that followed, who could have imagined the reverberations that have now been felt across the world’s energy sector?


The resulting damage to the Fukushima nuclear reactors have made many—from engineers to scientists to public officials—question the wisdom of our reliance on nuclear power, and its role moving forward.


One of the biggest developments has been German…


Added by Paul J. Heney on September 13, 2011 at 8:00am — 5 Comments

A visit to Purdue University's Maha Fluid Power Lab

Any list of fluid power research superstars would have to include Dr. Monika Ivantysynova, head of the Maha Fluid Power Laboratory at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. Ivantysynova, who worked at the University of Hamburg for years, has always been an academic researcher who strives to work in conjunction with industry. And her almost decade-long tenure at Purdue has been no… Continue

Added by Paul J. Heney on July 21, 2011 at 11:50am — No Comments

"Gigapixel" photo of new Boeing 737

Fascinating image, take a look:


It's the highest-resolution image ever taken of a Boeing Next-Generation 737 airplane. The photo is so rich in detail it must be counted in gigapixels, which is 1,000 times the information of megapixels.



Added by Paul J. Heney on July 21, 2011 at 7:39am — No Comments

Miniaturization using low-cost PCB technology

Nice article from the June 2011 issue of DW:



Miniaturization using low-cost PCB technology

 As feature sizes shrink on component packaging, printed circuit boards must become more complex

By Matt Romig…


Added by Paul J. Heney on June 13, 2011 at 7:41am — No Comments

What is your engineering degree worth?

I see my engineering degree every morning. It hangs above my dresser, a badge of honor for five of the toughest, yet most rewarding years of my life. It represents late nights studying, way too much calculus and thermodynamics, and likely an ulcer or two.

I was lucky to have chosen a public institution where even the out-of-state tuition was reasonable. And I was fortunate to have grandparents who were willing to help cover the cost of tuition. Many of my friends graduated with tens…


Added by Paul J. Heney on June 10, 2011 at 7:09am — 25 Comments

Auto forge loader uses telescopic cylinder in tight space

Interesting application story from TRD Manufacturing, a Bimba company: A machine integrator had to design an automatic forge loader that could detect the orientation of the first operation head offset on a ¾-in. square steel fastener, rotate the part accordingly, and place it in the forge die for the second…


Added by Paul J. Heney on May 26, 2011 at 8:30am — No Comments

Military Vehicles Exhibition & Conference scheduled for August in Detroit

Haven't been to this show myself, but tentatively planning on making the drive up to Michigan for it this August ... anyone else on the EX planning on attending?



Military Vehicles Exhibition & Conference

August 9-11, 2011



Added by Paul J. Heney on May 12, 2011 at 6:56am — No Comments

Looking for an Electrical Engineering editor!

Electrical Engineering Editor


Design engineering b2b media company seeks electrical engineer to cover all aspects of EE developments—from sensors to microchips to power supplies and beyond. This position requires a person who is willing and able to become the industry authority in this market.


Our ideal candidate will have an electrical engineering degree and good writing skills. S/he should be comfortable on camera and meeting with industry…


Added by Paul J. Heney on May 9, 2011 at 7:13am — No Comments

R&D at B&R—and a sitdown with the company's General Manager

Hannover Fair is a bit of an overwhelming affair. More than 20 large halls, dozens of technologies, hundreds of thousands of attendees and 6,500 exhibiting companies practically take over a small town in northern Germany for 5 days each April.

So it was nice to get away for a day from the show floor, and travel south to visit the international headquarters of B&R… Continue

Added by Paul J. Heney on April 28, 2011 at 1:34pm — No Comments


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