This Week’s Top 5 Engineering Technology News Articles

Happy Friday, folks! This week, Spiderman makes an appearance in our most interesting engineering technology news articles and SpaceX makes history for the 2nd time as they launch the Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule into space to resupply the International Space Station again.


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Is Elevator Simulation the Key to Building New Skyscrapers?

Unlike my wife, heights don’t bother me that much. Sure, I get a little freaked out when I stand at the edge of an observation deck on a skyscraper, but I assume everyone is a little affected when they look down 1000 feet to the ground below them.

For me, getting there is the hard part. I’m not a huge fan of elevators in tall buildings. I’ve never had an incident – and I’m a big fan of roller coasters – but I can’t shake the feeling that something bad is going to happen as I’m ascending the Empire State Building or Seattle’s Space Needle in what feels like a rickety old elevator. (I think the engineers at Top of the Rock in Rockefeller Center got it right when they made the elevator’s ceiling glass so you could see where you are going.) Continue reading

Simulating Ratchetting and Shakedown

Ratchetting refers to the progressive increase in plastic strain in a structure under nonsymmetric cyclic loading. The accumulated plastic strain increases without bound as the cyclic loading continues. Shakedown is similar to ratchetting except that the plastic strain progressively stabilizes under nonsymmetric cyclic loading.  As the cyclic loading continues, the accumulation of plastic strain eventually stops.

Both ratchetting and shakedown can be simulated using ANSYS Mechanical software.

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Simulation and Engineering: State of the Art?

In conversations with work colleagues, we often discuss and debate the question, “What constitutes a state-of-the-art simulation tool?” Having worked in the simulation world for 25 years, I say that the time for a “state-of-the-art simulation tool” has passed. I now answer anyone who asks me, “It is not a tool that represents the state of the art but, rather, a methodology.”

There are many tools that simulate various things, and many of them are quite good. For example, I am firmly convinced that ANSYS HFSS represents the gold standard of 3-D computational electromagnetic simulation tools. However, this is simply one tool in a bag of tools used by engineers; individual tools by themselves do not represent the state of  the art in simulation.

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The State of Industrial Flares

This week, I attended the American Flame Research Committee’s Combustion Symposium in Houston where I presented a paper on radiation modeling.

Most of the papers presented were about industrial flares. If you live near a process plant, you must have seen these large stacks reaching into the clear blue sky. At the end of these stacks are large flames that can be seen from a distance. For most urban area residents, these flares create a concern about public health and safety especially if there is some black smoke as well in the fireball.

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