Ideas in Motion

Pulleys: Did You Know?

May 3, 2019 9:02:00 AM / by Anthony Butler posted in History, Pulleys, Belts

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The evolution of pulleys is fascinating. These mechanisms we take for granted in everyday life actually have their roots in civilizations dating back 5500 years. Since then, the number of improvements and uses have increased to a staggering level, forever revolutionizing societies across the globe.

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Improving the Quality of Work: Getting into Flow

Apr 16, 2019 2:29:31 PM / by Anthony Butler posted in Time Management, Engineers, Psychology

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Have you ever been so focused on an activity that you lost track of time? Yet, at other times have so many things competing for your attention that you lose brain power and productivity because of all the external distractions? Most of us experience both of these “states,” but usually feel personally satisfied when we have “put our mind” on the singular task of getting something done. Well, this article is here to help us learn how to “put our mind to the task” a little more frequently. We examine the concept of flow – that state of perfect concentration where our thoughts and emotions completely align to the task at hand without preoccupation, anxiety and other impediments to our work – its relationship to emotional intelligence, and how to achieve it.

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10 Principles of Lean Manufacturing

Apr 1, 2019 1:02:39 PM / by Anthony Butler posted in Manufacturing, lean, news

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The origin of lean manufacturing can be traced back to Henry Ford’s assembly line. If there’s one thing Ford did impeccably, it was cutting waste. Yet, it wasn’t until the mid-1940s when Toyota Corporation picked up on the idea of minimal waste and perfected the process. Toyota’s lead engineer, Taaichi Ohno, designed an operating system solely focused on reducing errors, ordering parts and supplies, shrinking inventory, and above all, eliminating waste – all with the aim of reducing warehousing costs.

 

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New Strides in Nanotechnology—Smaller and More Powerful than Ever

Mar 21, 2019 2:31:24 PM / by Anthony Butler posted in Medical Technology, Nanotechnology, Energy

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The National Nanotechnology Initiative defines nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension of a size from 1 to 100 nanometers (1 nanometer is one billionth of a meter). The prefix, “nano” is from a Greek word meaning “dwarf.” The nanometer, which is the diameter of a helium atom, is the unit of measure to express dimensions on an atomic scale. It is also used to express the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation near the visible end of the light spectrum. Because the definition is based on size, the applications can include surface science, organic chemistry, molecular biology, semiconductor physics, energy storage, microfabrication, and microengineering, among others. Currently, scientists are interested in exploring the potential of nanotechnology to create new materials and devices in nanomedicine and biomaterials, nanoelectronics, energy production, and consumer products. Here, we explore some of the strides science is making in these fields.

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Prosthetics Bring New Prospects for Engineers

Mar 6, 2019 12:06:18 PM / by Anthony Butler posted in 3D Engineering, Engineers, Prosthetics, Medical Technology

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Tomorrow’s engineers and today’s innovators are pursuing specialized education and career options that were never available, until now. The future is here. Technology that was once considered science fiction is reality—uniting engineering and medicine in cross-disciplinary collaborations is revolutionizing the field of prosthetics.

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Building a Space Station: A brief history and how-to

Feb 20, 2019 7:00:00 AM / by Anthony Butler posted in technology, 3D Engineering, Space, SpaceX

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You look up at the night sky and watch a tiny dot moving across, it can't be a bird, or a plane, way too small and too far away. “Could that be a satellite? Did I just watch a UFO?” You ponder, nope. In all probability, what you just saw was the International Space Station—the grandest and most expensive construction project ever attempted by humanity.

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Embracing This Age of Robotics

Feb 6, 2019 12:16:05 PM / by Anthony Butler posted in technology, Robotics, Manufacturing

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Robotics are changing the face of almost every industry, with the manufacturing sector appearing to benefit the most. In fact, some people refer to this age as the “fourth industrial revolution,” and for a good reason. If the current statistics are anything to go by, then you’d be right to say that we are in the age of robotics. On a global scale, data shows that a whopping 1.3 million industrial robots have made their way into factories.

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Gears 101: The Fascinating Evolution of the Gear for “Gearheads”

Jan 21, 2019 4:21:21 PM / by Anthony Butler posted in Engineers, Gears, History

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A natural refinement to the invention of the wheel, gears were thought to have been invented by the Greeks. Philosopher and scientist, Aristotle, wrote about a rotating wheel that turned another wheel in the opposite direction in the fourth century B.C.E. By the third century B.C.E., water wheels and clocks were common on the Greek peninsula. Yet, the first specific mention of gears in Greek writings occurred around 50 C.E. by Heron of Alexandria, a mathematician and inventor. Heron is most renowned for Metrica, a three-volume compendium of observations of the mathematics and engineering of Babylonia, ancient Egypt, and the Greco-Roman world.

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A Practical Guide to Time Management & Productivity

Jan 17, 2019 4:15:54 PM / by Anthony Butler posted in technology, Time Management, Engineers

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Engineers face a constant barrage of competing priorities from customers, co-workers, managers, and vendors, all while still juggling family life and personal issues. Life satisfaction and productivity are on a steady decline for engineers, because external pressure and digital distractions make it impossible to maintain creativity, focus, and a work-life balance. The daily demands at work, including emails, notifications and text messages, are continually interrupting workflow and diverting attention. Consistent productivity disintegrates as time spent deeply focusing lessens.

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Manned Mission to Mars: How Close are We?

Jan 7, 2019 6:00:00 AM / by Bill Link posted in Mars, 3D Engineering, Exploration, Space, SpaceX

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Charles Bolden, a former space shuttle commander and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator from 2009 to 2017, dreamed of being the first person on Mars when he first checked in for astronaut training in 1980. At the time, NASA thought that a crewed Mars mission was thirty years away. Of course, we know now that prediction was overly optimistic. Yet there have been technological advancements and a renewed interest in human exploration of the Red Planet in the past few years. How soon could a Mars mission be possible, and what technology will NASA need to make it a reality?

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