Space Satellites Power Enhanced Connectivity on Earth

My house has a 30 Mb/s internet connection that I use to stream entire movies. I talk to people on the other side of the world and participate in virtual meetings on my mobile phone, which fits in my pocket and works everywhere. I also use my mobile to drive through cities I’ve never seen before, following the best route as determined from satellites in space that track the location of my phone using GPS coordinates. You are probably thinking “so what?” because you, like billions of other people, have the same kind of connectivity. This is what should impress you most: We are so used to this easy connectivity that we have forgotten how incredible this technology is compared to what we had 20 years ago. Engineering simulation played a big role in getting us to this point, and it will play and even bigger role in the future. Continue reading

Simulating The Right Stuff: SpaceX and Beyond

Front and rear views of the surface mesh of the Apollo Capsule

Front and rear views of the surface mesh of the Apollo Capsule

I was not around at the time of the first supersonic flight or the birth of the Mercury space program, neither did I witness the first man walk on the moon. Hence I can only imagine what the atmosphere was like during the days of the pioneers when names like Chuck Yeager, Yuri Gagarin, Alan Shepard, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong were headline news and national heroes. However, maybe I am getting a taste of a collective sense of excitement as new companies such as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are stepping up to the launch pad. Continue reading

This Week’s Top 5 Engineering Technology News Articles

Happy Friday, folks!  This week’s roundup of the latest engineering technology news happens to have a theme – space and education. I didn’t intend for it to be this way, it just happened! There is lots of interesting content floating around this week, from new games being launched to teach kids how to code and the UK figuring out they need more engineers, to algae being researched as a potential alternative fuel source by NASA and the first simulation of asteroid exploration.

And remember, if you come across an interesting engineering or engineering technology article that you think should be included in my weekly roundup, feel free to send it over:

For the instant gratification types:

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Technology AND Process Spin Offs from Space

The space industry has long been at the forefront of fielding pioneering technology and solving some of the toughest engineering challenges. It is not unusual to see technology spin offs appearing in everyday life, for example novel light-weight and insulating materials, miniaturized electronics and sensors that get embedded in systems we take for granted such as cars and aircraft. Often overlooked is the impact of high-end space engineering on human life. According to NASA, space shuttle technology directly contributed to a miniaturized artificial heart, a balance evaluation system to help treat stroke victims, bioreactors for the development of therapeutic drugs, diagnostic equipment for blood analysis, lighting technology to treat brain tumors and prosthesis material for artificial limbs. What I find most interesting is that not only has the space technology spun out into this diverse set of biomedical applications, but that each of them makes extensive use of physics-based simulation — see for example the case studies at the ANSYS Healthcare site. It seems that not only the technology but the design tools and processes have also spun out. This theme was recently explored in an article in New Space Magazine.