This Week’s Top 5 Engineering Technology News Articles

Happy Friday Saturday, folks! This week’s roundup of interesting engineering technology news articles looks at some great gifts to buy the engineer in your life, a potential new way to power the US in the future and Boeing’s latest simulator technology.


IEEE Spectrum
Study Suggests 99.9% Renewables is Feasible and Cost-Effective

Image of wind mill

Courtesy of IEEE Spectrum

This could be a big deal — Researchers from the University of Delaware found that renewables could actually sustain a big chunk of the US grid. The entire country has a capacity of just over 1000 gigawatts, and this new study revealed a method that could sustain around 72 gigawatts.

The researchers evaluated 28 billion combinations of renewable energy and storage, modeled out over a simulated four-year period using historical weather patterns and electricity requirements. (Hope they used simulation to look at all those combos!)

The major find: “At 2030 technology costs and with excess electricity displacing natural gas, we find that the electric system can be powered 90 to 99.9 percent of hours entirely on renewable electricity, at costs comparable to today’s.”

Chip Design Magazine
The Current State of Model-Driven Engineering

Panelists from national laboratories, industry and the Portland State System Engineering graduate program recently got together to talk about model-driven engineering. The goal was to connect systems engineering and IT modeling to domain specialties in electronic, mechanical and software engineering. (Sounds a lot like ANSYS’ idea of systems-level and multiphysics engineering…)

From an ANSYS perspective, systems-level engineering means that you’re looking at how the parts of a product (and physics of a product like thermal and structural) will interact together and affect each other from the beginning of the design phase.

The forum noted that one factor encouraging model-driven development is that many component companies are now moving up the supply chain to create subsystems, which include both embedded hardware and software. And as companies are moving further up the system supply chain, they are finding out that traditional optimization modeling techniques don’t scale across multiple points and physics. This inefficient process leads to overdesign, where designers leave too much margin on the table.

But, that said, a system-level model must be simple enough for all engineers to use. Today, most analysis are set up and performed by a few experts with PhDs. These experts are becoming a bottleneck and there needs to be democratization of simulation to the engineering masses.

Well said, if I do say so myself!

Broadcast Engineering
JVC, Boeing Enhance Training Simulation in CRVS

Image of Boeing's new flight simulator with JVC technology

Courtesy Boeing photo illustration and Broadcast Engineering

At a recent conference in Orlando, Boeing demonstrated something cool — a new technology in its flight simulators called “constant resolution visual system”, CRVS, delivers almost 4X the resolution of high definition. Talk about feeling like you’re “really there”.

JVC’s new projection technology keeps the system’s projector small and affordable while increasing CRVS’ visuals.

While I can’t be sure, I’d venture to say that it wasn’t easy to design something this complex to be smaller AND pack it with more functionality- I bet JVC probably used engineering technology to help them get the job done!

Design News
10 Tech Gifts to Buy Your Engineer for Christmas

Have an engineer in your life and no idea what to buy him/her for the holiday? Have no fear, Design News is here (with really cool tech-y gadgets to satisfy even the geekiest of the geeks – and I say that with love).

Some gift ideas include:

  1. A disty catalogue
  2. Duct tape or crazy glue – two all-purpose tools that your engineer probably goes through like hot cakes
  3. Preamp Vacuum tube- 12AX7 anyone?
  4. The Big Bang Theory DVD box set (my personal favorite!)

So you tell us, what is on your holiday wish list this year?

Yahoo! News
Physicists Testing to See if Universe is a Computer Simulation

Derek McDonald blogged about this the other day, but it was too cool and interesting to not bring up again, being that the world was supposed to end yesterday.

Here’s the short version: According to philosophy Professor Nick Bostrom, we (as in the human race) are almost certainly living in a computer simulation, much like the premise of the movie The Matrix.

Now, researchers at Cornell are testing his theory on whether or not we actually exist or are just a part of a computer simulation. Basically,if the energy signatures in the Cornell simulations match the signatures in the universe, then that means we exist in a real universe.

So, the question remains — red pill, or blue pill?