Engineering Big Challenges

Machines are designed to fulfill a purpose.  That purpose is usually to solve a specific problem. In broad terms, machines convert input energy into motion to perform a task or produce a product.  Machines are inanimate, even though they often exhibit motion through the use of mechanisms.  Machinery is primarily about doing work, doing it […]

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What is Intelligence?

In order to have a discussion about artificial intelligence, we need to understand what intelligence is.  Just defining what intelligence is, is no small thing.  Mankind has been trying to define it for as long as we have been around.  Rats can exhibit considerable intelligence by solving a maze using cognitive and problem solving intelligence. […]

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Artificial Intelligence may not be so Intelligent

Computers have, so far, shown no signs of evolving.  No cellphone has initiated a phone call on it’s own to start a conversation with a human. The science of statistics suggests that a room full of monkeys will someday generate a Shakespeare play.  Something to do with random processes and time.  A computer will never […]

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The Language of Control and other Semantic Problems

The English language is the de facto second language of the world.  And with respect to the many great contributions of science pioneers in all the many cultures of the world, English ends up as the language of engineering and control systems.  Not really surprising since English is also the primary language of commerce, even […]

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Power Conversions

Generating electrical power for use by consumers or industry is a big business.  There is a lot of applied science required in order to make it all work.  Strangely the dominant method of generating electricity is almost always by burning something to make steam, the steam turns a turbine that is attached to a generator. […]

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Electric Power

Delivering electric power across the United States was an incredible accomplishment that spanned decades.  From the early electric ‘grids’ in urban areas dedicated to bringing electric light to millions of customers to the giant electric GRID that we have today has changed modern society forever. there are many issues with the current grid.  The fact […]

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Delivering Electric Power

More than any other form of power, electricity has the virtue of portability. Compared to steam, hydraulic or any other form of power, electrons are easier to move…

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Machine Learning

Machine learning is a special branch of artificial intelligence.  Sadly, a lot of the terminology used in discussion of these subjects is ambiguous and designed to suggest equivalence…

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Robots and Automation

In manufacturing circles, the recent headline that Foxconn, Apple’s biggest contract manufacturer, intends to install 60,000 robots to replace workers is big news.  The implications of that news…

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Manufacturing lines are getting a little Blurry

3D printing is making a big splash in the market.  There have been a number of variants of the technology that are driving very complex changes into the…

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Work is What We Do – Part 2

How we do work has changed dramatically over the last few hundred years.  We can arbitrarily refer to the Industrial Revolution using steam power as Industrie 1.0, irrespective…

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Work is What We Do – Part 1

Work is what we do to feed, clothe and shelter ourselves and our loved ones.  Work is that effort required to achieve survival and safety.  Throughout human history…

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Reflections on the Manufacturing Technology Show

For decades we have had the Machine Tool Show in Chicago every two years.  Currently the show, formerly know as the International Machine Tool Show is now being…

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The Industrial Internet of Things, for Real

How might the Industrial Internet of Things actually play out?  Big Data and Internet of Things are huge buzz words that are being thrown around pretty loosely.  Mostly…

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More Material Handling Magic

Could a future implementation of the Industrial Internet of Things include an application that manages the flow of products super efficiently so that the local grocery store can…

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Material Handling Magic

Arthur C. Clarke said “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”  Every so often a shift takes place that borders on magic.  In the world of material…

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Is it Intelligence?

The next revolution in automation is much hyped, Industrie 4.0 as the Europeans refer to it.  What is it really?  The application of relatively unlimited computing power to…

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Intelligence is Coming to an object near You

Does Artificial Intelligence mean that mankind’s goal is to create human intelligence?  Depends on who you ask.  If that is the assumption, it is not likely to happen…

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Machine Intelligence

The Machine Intelligence debate goes on, with the latest topics including predictive maintenance. The implication seems to be that if a machine can predict equipment failures and eliminate…

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Reinvent the Old and make it New

When cost barriers drop, suddenly old problems start to look like new opportunities. There are many examples of older technology that has never become widely adopted due to…

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The next generation of grinding

by Steve Meyer, Contributing Editor One company is leveraging CAD, vision systems and robotics to make dramatic improvements in grinding large castings. The next generation of grinding will…

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Are we there yet?

Industry 4.0 is a marketing campaign to create a perception of value in something that doesn’t exist yet.  On one hand, the emergence of lower cost, intelligent peripherals…

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Robot Hero?

The world of mechatronics has an unlikely hero.  A bomb disposal robot became the delivery system for 1 pound of C4 explosive which killed the sniper in Dallas…

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Is Driver-less Driving the Answer?

Tesla Motors had it first fatality.  The response from Tesla included a very odd statistic.  The company estimates that there were 130,000,000 miles driven last year in Tesla…

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The Future of Control

There are three major trends that will shape the coming generation of control technology.  These trends are largely independent and not likely to go away.  They are increasing…

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