"Across The Great Divide," [bridging the generation gap] "Today's
"Tracking Weather's Flight
Path," "IEEE Spectrum"
"A Pen That Could Let You Scribble Your Way Across the
"The New York Times"
"Lack of Drunk-Driving Statutes Will Force Shift in Highway
"Rx for Medical
Waste," "Mechanical Engineering"
"Writing And Using Case
Studies," "CE News"
"Senate Approves $7.8 Billion Plan to Aid
Everglades," "The New York
"Stepping Up to the
Plate," [engineer analyzes baseballs] "Prism"
"A Tentative Comeback for
"A Tale of the Unstoppable Electronic
Kit," "Electronic Engineering
"New Life For Nuclear
Power?" "Chemical & Engineering News"
"Passing The Ball, Not The
Buck," [delegation] "Today's Engineer"
"Feds: Lab Reported False
Results," "Engineering News-Record"
'Up To Code'... but Which
Code?" "American Consulting Engineer"
1. "Across The Great Divide," "Today's Engineer," by Catherine S.
McGowan, pp.15-19, 3rd Quarter/00:
The age gaps separating today's
workers are much larger than they used to be, and as a result there are
two very different generations working together--Baby Boomers and
Xers--and they often clash, reports "Today's Engineer." This,
plus the fact that many managers are younger, and are managing people
who older than they are can create a tough challenge in the workplace.
Baby Boomers and Generation Xers have striking differences in
their backgrounds and work attitudes. Many Generation X workers (born
between 1964 and 1977) grew up with divorced parents or with two working
parents, and had few rules or authority figures, says "TE." While they
are good at working in teams and are productive and technologically
savvy, they don't like rules and supervision. Baby Boomers, on the other
hand, generally grew up in households where their mothers were home all
day, and they are known to like authority and the use of a specific plan
to get a project done. While Generation Xers see Baby Boomers as
workaholics and constantly in need of reassurance, says "TE," Baby
Boomers think Generation Xers lack loyalty, commitment, and a work
As a result of these differing perspectives, there are often
problems in communicating, leading, and following in the workplace.
Since workplace demands have also changed, an improvement in
intergenerational relations is essential, says "TE." The key to working
towards unity, is acknowledging and accepting differences rather than
shying away from them. According to the article, by having dialogue and
ending stereotypes, Generation Xers and Baby Boomers can work well
together and achieve greater professional success.
2. "Tracking Weather's Flight Path," "IEEE Spectrum," by Tekla S. Perry,
Many engineers, scientists, and researchers are working hard to tackle
the issue of weather problems affecting airline safety and plane delays,
says "IEEE Spectrum." The main meteorological culprits are turbulence,
fog, thunderstorms, and ice. A large problem in dealing with bad weather
is the fact that completely current and accurate flight condition
forecasts for pilots aren't yet available. Weather reports, according to
the article, are sometimes so late, that pilots borrow PC's from their
passengers to check the latest forecasts on the Internet.
NASA teams are now working on creating systems to provide better
flight path and weather information including turbulence detection and
forecasting thunderstorms, reports "Spectrum." Researchers are also
designing computer maps of the terrain that have simple geographical
graphics that pilots can easily understand. "We don't want a pilot
diverting around a thunderstorm only to fly into a mountain," a NASA
project manager told "Spectrum." With all of this new information,
pilots could then design new flight paths. To address the problem of
icing, the National Center for Atmospheric Research is creating an on-
board ice mapping system that will instantly display exactly where and
when a plane is encountering ice.
For fog and low clouds, researchers are trying to develop
automated systems to predict when the fog will lift to help eliminate
delays and assist pilots in knowing when they can land, says "Spectrum."
A model which uses sonic detection, ranging instruments, and algorithms
was tested this past summer, and is expected to be used in fog-affected
cities like San Francisco by the end of summer 2001. The next step is to
expand the number of airports and planes that have the new technology,
says "Spectrum." This next step lies largely in the hands of the
airlines who must decide whether they are willing to pay for technology
that can make flying safer.
3. "A Pen That Could Let You Scribble Your Way Across the Internet,"
"The New York Times," by Matt Lake, p.E12, 9/28/00:
Another advance in state-of-the-art technology is a new Internet
accessible pen. As "The New York Times" reports, the Anoto Bluetooth
pen is expected to go on the market as early as July 2001. The pen can
send e-mail, faxes, and place e-commerce orders. It looks and writes
like a regular ballpoint pen except that it has an L.E.D. indicator
light on the side. Inside, it has a typical ink cartridge, but also
contains special radio broadcast circuitry and image processing
The pen uses the Bluetooth wireless networking standard to
transmit whatever you write, as long as the user is within 30 feet of a
Bluetooth-compatible cell phone, computer, or network base station,
reports"The Times." The pen also requires special stationery with tiny
patterns of dots that help track the pen's movement and gather words
into memory. Once the words are in memory, the pen can then transmit the
image to a computer, handheld device, or to a cell phone.
The stationery also allows users to send faxes or e-mails. All
you have to do is write your message, check a small box, write down the
e-mail address or phone number, and the pen will deliver the message
through your cell phone, says "The Times." Users can also write personal
notes or lists that can be sent to their personal computers. The next
step is to develop a pen that can read, store, and transmit other
languages, such as Chinese, that are difficult to put on most standard
4. "Lack of Drunk-Driving Statutes Will Force Shift in Highway Aid,"
"Engineering News-Record," p. 11, 9/25/00
On October 1, the beginning of the federal fiscal year, 32 states
and the District of Columbia face a collective loss of a quarter of a
billion dollars for failing to enact stricter drunk-driving laws,
according to "Engineering News-Record." The Federal Highway
Administration says that 16 states lacked laws that ban open containers
of alcohol in motor vehicles, as well as laws that take action against
repeat offenders of drunk-driving statutes. These failures will cost the
states a combined $152.9 million. Eleven states and the District of
Columbia do not have repeat-offender statutes, costing them nearly $75
According to "ENR," the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st
Century says that 1.5% of a state's Interstate maintenance, National
Highway System, and Surface Transportation Program funds must be put
toward safety measures if the state doesn't implement open-container or
repeat-offender laws. The funds would be transferred to drunk-driving
enforcement efforts or roadwork performed to eliminate safety hazards,
"ENR" says. The penalties will also apply in 2001 if the laws have not
been enacted by then.
5. "Rx for Medical Waste," "Mechanical Engineering," by Michael Valenti,
p. 52-56, September/00
The Environmental Protection Agency says that as much as 15% of
the nearly 1 million tons of medical waste generated in the U.S. each
year poses a potential infection hazard, "Mechanical Engineering"
reports. For years, most hospitals incinerated contaminated materials or
sent them to off-site incinerators to ensure that all pathogens had been
destroyed. Regulations stipulated by the Clean Air Act of 1990, however,
have changed the economics of incineration, "ME" reports. To deal with
the costly aspects of the new regulations, many hospitals have chosen
alternative waste treatment technologies, including microwave systems or
A disinfection system developed by Sanitech International
Holdings can be connected to a hospital's electrical lines and water
pipes. Through a shredding process, hospital waste volume is reduced by
as much as 80%. The waste can also be treated at lower temperatures,
reducing energy consumption and the potential for harmful air emissions,
"ME" says. The process has been implemented by a four-hospital coalition
in Wisconsin and is also used remotely by hospitals in Virginia and
North Carolina in conjunction with SafeWaste, which sends mobile units
to the hospitals and treats waste on-site.
Another type of alternative waste treatment method that is
gaining attention, "ME" says, is a hot air shredding system developed by
KC MediWaste of Dallas. The system combines a dry sterilization process
with fluidized bed technology. The result is a cyclonic mixing action
that creates high heat and mass transfer, ultimately propelling the
waste into a compactor that reduces volume by 80%.
6. "Writing And Using Case Studies," "CE News," by Marge O'Connor,
Getting the word out about impressive engineering projects you've
accomplished is a great way to enhance your career and improve your
firm's image, says "CE News." These articles are known as "case studies"
by public relations and marketing firms, and can provide a written
record of your achievements complete with quotes from delighted clients.
The projects you choose to write about in your case studies
should be interesting and have good publicity potential, says "CE News."
It is also a great asset if your client is well known. In case studies,
use photographs recording each project stage. Key elements should
include covering the overall scope of the project from goals to budget
to time involved, information on team members, your role, and quotes
from clients. You should also use clear language and mention any added
contributions that you made to the project, such as increased safety or
Once the case study is completed, put it in your company
newsletter, use it in presentations and mailings, and use it in a press
release to get media coverage says "CE News." Case studies can get
immediate and positive results for firms, and are an ideal method of
selling your accomplishments.
7. "Senate Approves $7.8 Billion Plan to Aid Everglades," "The New York
Times," by Lizette Alvarez, p. A1, 9/26/00
In an 85-to-1 vote, the Senate has approved a $7.8 billion plan
by the Army Corps of Engineers to restore the Everglades and its
ecosystem, "The New York Times" reports. The plan would capture and
redirect rainwater into the Everglades, revamping Southern Florida's
water supply. The measure, however, is still entangled in partisan
disputes in the House, and a vote has not yet been scheduled.
By redirecting the water flow, the "Times" says, the plan would
resuscitate 12 million acres of saw grass and swamplands, revitalizing
dying plant and animal life. Nearly 70 different plant and animal
species in the Everglades are fighting extinction. Supporters of the
plan say it would also provide an adequate freshwater supply for South
Florida's cities and farms. The legislation calls for the federal
government to split the bill with the state, a recognition of the
federal role in the Everglades' faultering. Congress ordered the Corps
of Engineers to reroute the flow of water in 1948, resulting in 1.7
billion gallons of freshwater being shifted out to sea everyday. The
Everglades ended up receiving too much water during its rainy season and
too little when it was dry.
Many environmental groups initially endorsed the new project,
but some of them question whether such a complex, untested plan is
necessary. They also say that the Corps of Engineers must be monitored
while carrying out such a complicated project over an extended amount of
time, the "Times" notes. The Corps' long-term plan involves capturing
freshwater and storing it, and removing dikes and barriers at the
eastern end of the Everglades to allow water to flow into the marshland.
8. "Stepping Up to the Plate," "Prism," by Ray Bert, p. 37-39,
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of home runs hit
by Major League baseball players. The home-runs-per-game average reached
an all-time high of 2.41 by late August, translating to nearly 400
homers a season, "Prism" says. Theories for the surge in home run
hitting include stronger hitters, smaller stadiums, and weaker pitching.
There are some, however, who point to the baseballs, claiming that
they've been intentionally altered, or "juiced," to produce more crowd-
pleasing hits. The Rawlings company, a major sports equipment producer
and makers of official major league balls since 1977, claims that the
baseballs have not changed.
Major League Baseball turned to Jim Sherwood, a mechanical
engineering professor and director of the Baseball Research Center at
the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, to determine if there has been
any change in the baseballs over time, says "Prism." Sherwood weighed,
measured, and cut apart baseballs for several months to see if they were
consistent with major league standards. He also conducted numerous tests
on the coefficient of restitution (COR), a measure of a ball's rebound
Though Sherwood found no significant differences between the
baseballs used during the 2000 season and those used in years past, he
determined that perhaps some specifications should be raised. The balls
tested were mostly uniform, Sherwood says, but specifications are such
that two legal balls could vary in batted-ball distance by as much as 49
feet. Moreover, the balls tested had COR values toward the higher end of
the acceptable range, "Prism" says. Sherwood also believes that bats,
which players usually alter by shaving or sanding, may also have
something to do with the increase in the number of long balls.
9. "A Tentative Comeback for Bioremediation," "Science," by Todd
Zwillich, p. 2266-2267, 9/29/00:
Nearly 30 years ago, a General Electric researcher developed a
genetically modified bacterium that could partially degrade crude oil.
Other researchers quickly followed suit, envisioning a world in which
toxic wastes could be cleaned up by pollution-eating bugs, reports
"Science." High costs and technical difficulties, however, soon
dissolved those hopes, and the experiments retreated from biotech start-
up companies to government labs, where they fell into obscurity,
Bioremediation is making a slow comeback, though. Since 1998, a
group has been successfully cleaning up a toxic spill in Michigan using
bacteria imported from California. The Department of Energy is also
slated to perform its first field test of bioremediation on a heavily
polluted site before the end of the year. DOE, however, is not using
genetically altered bugs and does not want to risk it, "Science" says.
Public resistance to releasing such microbes is high, yet some
scientists believe that in order for the experiments to succeed, genetic
modification must occur.
Still, "Science" notes, there are researchers who do employ
recombinant technology. Michael Daly and his colleagues at the Uniformed
Services University of the Health Sciences in Maryland announced that
they had transferred a gene from a common lab bacterium into another
microbe, making it resistant to toxic mercury II. Similar experiments
have been conducted by researchers at Stanford University and at
Michigan State University, "Science" says.
10. "A Tale of the Unstoppable Electronic Kit," "Electronic Engineering
Times," by George Rostky, pp.214-216, 10/2/00:
A small airplane and airplane parts company whose founder, entrepreneur
Edward Bayard Heath died in a plane crash in 1931, evolved into a huge
business selling electronic kits, inspiring untold numbers of future
engineers, reports "Electronic Engineering Times." The company still
exists today in a very different form, and has enjoyed a long and
impressive technological ride.
After Heath's death, the Heath Company went bankrupt, and was
snatched up for $300 in 1935 by Howard and Helen Anthony. The Anthonys
produced accessories and electronic equipment for small planes, but it
was after World War II that Howard Anthony thought of creating the first
electronic kit. The kit, an oscilloscope, was put on the market in 1947
and sold for $39.50, says "EE Times." The kit was a smash success, and
the company expanded its line to include kits for amateur radio
equipment and color televisions; and grew to have 65 of its own stores
selling the kits. After Anthony's death in 1954, Heath went through new
owners, but its kit business thrived and became known for its easy-to-
read kit manuals.
Later Heath expanded to create educational manuals, technical
materials, and courses for secondary and post-secondary schools, and in
the late 1970s it became the first company to offer a personal computer
kit, which was a huge success for Heath, says "EE Times." In 1979, Heath
was sold to Zenith Radio Corp. and focused on the sale of computers to
the U.S. government and the public, achieving sales of almost $1
billion. The company's kit division, however, was neglected and died,
but a legacy from the kit era remains, reports "EE Times." Today, Heath
Educational Systems specializes in creating manuals and technical
materials for personal computer and telecom technicians, thus continuing
the amazing life span that Heath has had from one man's idea.
11. "New Life For Nuclear Power?" "Chemical & Engineering News," by Jeff
Johnson, pp.39-43, 10/2/00:
Nuclear power has made a huge comeback, says"Chemical & Engineering
News." In 1995, many experts in the nuclear industry felt that nuclear
power in the U.S. was on its death bed, but in 1999 the industry had its
best year ever. The 103 functioning nuclear power plants in the country
ran at 88.5% of their capacity and increased their annual production
rate by 8%. Currently, 31 states have nuclear power plants. A
significant factor in its resurgence, says "C&EN," is the fact that the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) which is in charge of licensing the
plants, has simplified its re-licensing process and now has safety
requirements that most plants can attain.
Another advantage that the nuclear industry is now enjoying is
energy deregulation and the fact that in many states they can write off
their old construction debts, says "C&EN." As a result, nuclear power
plants can sell for more than ever before. A recent example is the sale
last August of Northeast's Millstone Power Station for $1.3 billion,
which broke all records. By comparison, a few years ago, a nuclear power
plant sold for a mere $81 million. The U.S. leads the world in the
number of nuclear power plants at 103. France is second with 59,
followed by Japan with 53.
In the U.S., there are plans to build more nuclear reactors,
says "C&EN." In the last ten years, $1.3 billion has been spent on
developing new nuclear power plant designs. While the industry is
optimistic about the prospect of being able to build a new plant within
the next five years, outside energy analysts don't agree. They say that
it is too risky and expensive. Additionally, there are many other energy
sources that are becoming increasingly popular, including solar power,
fuel cells, and wind power. Still, nuclear power's biggest hurdles are
internal, according to "C&EN." The waste problem remains unsolved, and
so does nuclear power's negative public image.
12. "Passing The Ball, Not The Buck," "Today's Engineer," by Barton
Reppert, pp.8-12, 3rd Quarter/00:
Being able to delegate well is an essential element to a manager's
success and the success of staff, says, "Today's Engineer." But for some
reason, many managers don't want to let go of the reins. In some cases,
managers can be workaholics who have problems trusting their
subordinates or anyone else. Experts say that not being able to delegate
can lead to terrible results for a company in the long run, including a
lack of productivity, job satisfaction, and unskilled employees.
Further, managers who are not able to successfully delegate, can hurt
their own chances for success and promotion.
Managers who can't delegate well also can't communicate well
to their subordinates about what tasks they're supposed to be doing,
says "TE." Experts recommend that to get the message across, managers
should have interactive meetings with employees and have detailed
initial project meetings. Managers should also give employees working on
a project more authority to complete tasks. Letting employees accomplish
a project by their own methods is a good idea that bad managers never
do. Often, bad managers have one image of the one method to accomplish a
project and don't trust their employees' abilities. Delegation can be hard for many engineers, according to the
article, because often they are used to thinking academically and
technically. As managers, however, they may face more people problems.
Experts advise that engineers spend more time focusing on communications
issues at the beginning of the project to ensure success. In the end,
mastering effective delegation works out well for everyone and has great
rewards, reports "TE."
13. "Feds: Lab Reported False Results," "Engineering News-Record," by
Mary Buckner Powers, p. 12, 10/2/00:
Federal prosecutors involved in a far-reaching investigation of
an environmental lab say that as many as 59,000 construction projects
could have received faulty environmental test results from a Texas lab,
according to "Engineering News-Record." A federal grand jury handed down
a 30-count indictment against 13 employees of Intertek Testing Services
Environmental Laboratories Inc., Richardson, Texas. Charges against
these individuals range from conspiracy to commit mail fraud to
presenting false and fraudulent claims against the U.S. Federal
prosecutors, according to "ENR," accuse the defendants of manipulating
data by failing to recalibrate equipment between tests.
The alleged fraud, reports "ENR," took place between 1994 and
1997, when the labs were facing difficult times. They were under
pressure to keep volumes up, and shortcuts were taken to save money,
"ENR" says. Justice officials say that so far, site reviews have not
produced concern for human health. Intertek officials says that the
company has funded measures to discover threats to human health and to
the environment. Parsons Engineering Science, however, one of several
firms using the lab, filed a lawsuit against Intertek over the cost of
retesting nine projects. An attorney says more projects could be
14. " 'Up To Code'... but Which Code?" "American Consulting Engineer," by
Jim Parsons, pp.8-9, September/October/00:
The country's two main providers of regulatory documents for the
building industry, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and
the International Code Council (ICC), are in the midst of a face-off,
says "American Consulting Engineer." Both organizations are creating
their own separate families of model building codes. The ICC model was
started in 1994, but is not finished. NFPA, which has developed codes
such as the National Electric Code, the National Fire Alarm Code, and
the National Fuel Gas Code, started work on its own family of codes in
June. NFPA's documents have been used in building codes published by
other model building code organizations, but this is the first time that
NFPA has tried to expand into all areas of building codes, including
plumbing and structural codes.
According to "ACE," NFPA decided to expand and compete with ICC
because the organization feared that ICC wouldn't include its National
Electric Code in its family of model codes. The NEC is NFPA's biggest
selling publication. The two groups have met many times to discuss
having ICC agree to make the NEC, without amendments, a major part of
its model. But the talks failed in the spring of 2000. Then in April,
NFPA announced its intentions to create its own family of model codes
and use its NEC as a major component, reports "ACE." NFPA plans to have
its model ready by 2002. Unless ICC and NFPA can reach a compromise,
says "ACE," there may be two sets of building codes in the design and
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