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Engineering & Technology Design

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 sep 2019

According to Learning Enterprise Institute (lean.org), the book, 'Designing the Future' by James M. Morgan and Jeffrey K. Liker, describes the robust new Lean Product and Process Development (LPPD) framework and shares real-world examples from a diverse set of industries. The book explains how the leading companies are using LPPD to create better futures for themselves and all their stakeholders. Authors go beyond broad generalizations on how to 'be innovative' and dig deeper into the theoretical bedrock and concrete development practices that are generating exceptional results at pioneering LPPD companies. Examples in the book show specifically how companies are redesigning product development systems to consistently design and deliver a progression of market-leading products and services. The book explains how LPPD is different from traditional ways of thinking and doing product development. The book helps in learning how to - (1) Avoid the 'extremes' that turn milestones into a 'coercive bureaucracy' and instead turn them into the foundation of a lean development process. (2) Drive out fear, but not accountability. (3) Develop high-performance teams and team members. (4) Cultivate chief architects with complete product and business responsibility. (5) Create flow and reduce rework in the development process. (6) Apply leadership lessons from Alan Mulally and other senior development leaders, as well as the critical elements of a powerful management system. (7) Use the Obeya (big room, war room) system to increase transparency, collaboration, focus, and speed while engaging the entire enterprise. (8) Improve the scientific thinking skills of engineers and developers. (9) Apply the seemingly contradictory concept of 'fixed and flexible' - Yin and Yang - of lean product development as an opportunity, not a conflict. (10) Hire the right people using different approaches, including extreme interviewing events. (11) Use a Commodity Development Plan to develop components in parallel that are on time, functional, and fit together. (12) Improve development problem solving through effective use of A3s and employ a simple but effective 'trick' to check the quality of an A3 report. EXCERPTS FROM INTERVIEW WITH AUTHORS - James M. Morgan: 'The book is for all serious practitioners who are working to find a better way to develop products, processes and services. Especially for those who are in leadership positions who want to improve organizational development capabilities in order to create great products and a great place to work.'; 'Deep immersion at the gemba (the actual place) during the study period to truly understand your customer and their context. To truly study and listen deeply to your customer in a very intentional way. To look broadly across your industry to understand the current state and conduct detailed product or service dissections where called for. Creating an active learning plan and experimentation to test ideas and close knowledge gaps. To create a concept paper to clarify your thinking and engage and enroll others.'; 'Milestones are the key to orchestrating development across functions. They are the primary mechanism for integrating work and for understanding normal from abnormal conditions so that the development team may act accordingly.'; 'The obeya space needs to become the center and the heartbeat of the project. Whether the team is collocated or not, it is the place where they come together to share and collaborate. It is the primary source of project information.'; 'I believe that it (to build aligned and focused teams) is impacted by hiring/selection of people, development of people, manager selection and promotion and of course leadership behaviors. One key is to develop an effective management system. In my view a management system is comprised of two key elements: leadership behaviors and an operating system.'; 'The best leaders have the grit to keep going - and to keep their team moving forward. One key is to look at problems as gems, as opportunities to improve your product, your process, your team - yourself.'; 'Make it okay to experiment, make mistakes, question things and raise issues. Create time and resources for learning - both capturing and applying learning. Design reviews are an excellent mechanism for learning. Then make knowledge available in user-friendly way.'; 'Apply the LPPD principles and practices in your transformation. Start by deeply understanding your current state, develop a compelling vision, learn through pilot experimentation, create an aligned plan, and focus on relentless executing leveraging tools like obeya, milestones, reflection events and design reviews.' Jeffrey K. Liker: 'We also talk about the role of the chief engineer - an overall architect for the product who assimilates all the data and spends time with customers and integrates many perspectives into a vision. These are specially developed people who become the chief architects.'; 'The main failure mode of milestones is viewing them as checkpoints. In LPPD there is feedback and adjustment happening all of the time. The checkpoint is a major opportunity to reflect and learn. It should not feel like passing a test.'; 'The obeya paces the work of many functional specialists so they are checking the status of their work products in short intervals, seeing how they can help each other, seeing gaps between plan versus actual and taking corrective action. It should focus on deviation management.'; 'A big part of the management system is the target setting process. The chief engineer sets the product targets and each function develops appropriate targets to support the chief engineer.'; 'It is also critical to have knowledge gatekeepers for each function who are the keepers of the know-how database for their specialty to avoid lots of information that never gets used.'; 'An exciting culture leads to an exciting product. We also talk about the importance of strong functional groups that are teaching the deep knowledge of their engineering discipline.' Read on...

InfoQ: Q&A on the Book 'Designing the Future'
Authors: Ben Linders, James Morgan, Jeffrey Liker


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 aug 2019

Researchers from IIT-Madras (Tamil Nadu, India), Prof. Asokan Thondiyath and research scholar Nagamanikandan Govindan, have designed and developed a multimodal robotic system, termed as 'Grasp Man', that has good grasping, manipulation and locomotion abilities. Their research, 'Design and Analysis of a Multimodal Grasper Having Shape Conformity and Within-Hand Manipulation With Adjustable Contact Forces', is recently published in ASME Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics. The robot is fitted with a pair of graspers that provide morphological adaptation, enabling it to conform to the geometry of the object being grasped, and allowing it to hold objects securely and manipulate them much like the human hand. The two graspers are equipped with a robotic platform that provides behavioural adaptation. The robot will have various industrial applications such as pipe inspection, search-and-rescue operations, and others that involve climbing, holding, and assembling. Prof. Asokan says, 'The motivation behind this research is to realise a robot with a minimalistic design that can overcome the need for task-specific robots that are capable of navigating and manipulating across different environments without increasing the system complexity.' Read on...

YourStory: IIT-Madras researchers design robot with graspers that function like the human hand
Author: Teja Lele Desai


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 aug 2019

Research study, 'Onboard Evolution of Understandable Swarm Behaviors', published in Advanced Intelligent Systems by researchers from University of Bristol (Simon Jones, Sabine Hauert) and University of the West of England (Alan F. Winfield, Matthew Studley), brings development of a new generation of swarming robots which can independently learn and evolve new behaviours in the wild a step closer. Researchers used artificial evolution to enable the robots to automatically learn swarm behaviours which are understandable to humans. This could create new robotic possibilities for environmental monitoring, disaster recovery, infrastructure maintenance, logistics and agriculture. This new approach uses a custom-made swarm of robots with high-processing power embedded within the swarm. In most recent approaches, artificial evolution has typically been run on a computer which is external to the swarm, with the best strategy then copied to the robots. Prof. Jones says, 'Human-understandable controllers allow us to analyse and verify automatic designs, to ensure safety for deployment in real-world applications.' Researchers took advantage of the recent advances in high-performance mobile computing, to build a swarm of robots inspired by those in nature. Their 'Teraflop Swarm' has the ability to run the computationally intensive automatic design process entirely within the swarm, freeing it from the constraint of off-line resources. Prof. Hauert says, 'This is the first step towards robot swarms that automatically discover suitable swarm strategies in the wild. The next step will be to get these robot swarms out of the lab and demonstrate our proposed approach in real-world applications.' Prof. Winfield says, 'In many modern AI systems, especially those that employ Deep Learning, it is almost impossible to understand why the system made a particular decision...An important advantage of the system described in this paper is that it is transparent: its decision making process is understandable by humans.' Read on...

Engineering.com: Robots Learn Swarm Behaviors, Aim to Escape the Lab
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 jan 2019

Autonomous shopping concept intends to bring brick-and-mortar and internet shopping into a unified and integrated retail experience. The grab-and-go smart shopping carts promote cashier-free automatic check-out eliminating wait in lines. TechSpot's contributing writer, Cohen Coberly, says, 'While it seemed like brick-and-mortar retail would be all but killed off following the explosive rise of online shopping, what we're instead seeing throughout the US is not death, but evolution.' According to a 2018 survey by RIS News, 'The leading new shopping option wanted by consumers was "grab-and-go" technology (in which customers can self-checkout using their smartphones). 59% said they'd like to use this, and 9% had used it.' In a global survey of 2250 internet users conducted by iVend Retail and AYTM Market Research, 'Roughly 1/3rd of respondents said they would like to make automatic payments using digital shopping carts.' Caper is a smart shopping cart startup. Josh Constine, technology journalist and editor-at-large for TechCrunch, reports, 'The startup makes a shopping cart with a built-in barcode scanner and credit card swiper, but it's finalizing the technology to automatically scan items you drop in thanks to three image recognition cameras and a weight sensor. The company claims people already buy 18% more per visit after stores are equipped with its carts.' Linden Gao, co-founder and CEO of Caper, says, 'It doesn't make sense that you can order a cab with your phone or go book a hotel with your phone, but you can't use your phone to make a payment and leave the store. You still have to stand in line.' The current Caper cart involves scanning an item's barcode and then throwing it into the cart. Brittany Roston, senior editor and contributor at SlashGear, reports, 'The smarter version will eliminate the barcode part, making it possible to simply put the items in the cart while the built-in tech recognizes what they are.' Chris Albrecht, managing editor at The Spoon, also reports, 'The future iterations, already in the works, will remove the barcode and will use a combination of computer vision and built-in weight scales to determine purchases. The customer completes shopping, and pays on the built-in screen.' The concept of scanless carts involves deep learning and machine vision. Cameras are mounted in the cart. The screen on the cart gives the shopper different kinds of information - store map, item locator, promotions, deals etc. It recommends items based on contents already in the basket. Read on...

Tech Xplore: Next-level autonomous shopping carts are even smarter
Author: Nancy Cohen


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 jan 2019

Team of researchers from University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (Prof. Timothy F. Scott, Prof. Mark A. Burns, Martin P. De Beer, Harry L. Van Der Laan, Megan A. Cole, Riley J. Whelan) have developed a new approach to 3D printing that lifts complex shapes from a vat of liquid at up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D printing processes. 3D printing could by highly beneficial for small manufacturing jobs without the need for a costly mold. But the usual 3D printing approach of building up plastic filaments layer by layer hasn't been usable in that aspect. Prof. Scott says, 'Using conventional approaches, that's not really attainable unless you have hundreds of machines.' The U. of Michigan innovative 3D printing method solidifies the liquid resin using two lights to control where the resin hardens - and where it stays fluid. This enables solidification of the resin in more sophisticated patterns. The process can make a 3D bas-relief in a single shot rather than in a series of 1D lines or 2D cross-sections. The printing demonstrations from this approach include a lattice, a toy boat and a block M. Prof. Burns says, 'It's one of the first true 3D printers ever made.' By creating a relatively large region where no solidification occurs, thicker resins - potentially with strengthening powder additives - can be used to produce more durable objects. The method also bests the structural integrity of filament 3D printing, as those objects have weak points at the interfaces between layers. Prof. Scott adds, 'You can get much tougher, much more wear-resistant materials.' The research paper, 'Rapid, continuous additive manufacturing by volumetric polymerization inhibition patterning', is to be published in Science Advances. Read on...

University of Michigan News: 3D printing 100 times faster with light
Authors: Timothy Scott, Mark Burns, Nicole Casal Moore, Kate McAlpine


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 aug 2018

The possibility of eco-friendly biodegradable paper-based batteries is now made a reality by the scientists at Binghampton University (SUNY), Prof. Seokheun 'Sean' Choi from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and Prof. Omowunmi Sadik from the Chemistry Department. Their research titled 'Green Biobatteries: Hybrid Paper-Polymer Microbial Fuel Cells' was recently published in Advanced Sustainable Systems. Prof. Choi engineered the design of the paper-based battery, while Prof. Sadik was able to make the battery a self-sustaining biobattery. The biobattery uses a hybrid of paper and engineered polymers. The polymers - poly (amic) acid and poly (pyromellitic dianhydride-p-phenylenediamine) - were the key to giving the batteries biodegrading properties. Prof. Choi says, 'There's been a dramatic increase in electronic waste and this may be an excellent way to start reducing that. Our hybrid paper battery exhibited a much higher power-to-cost ratio than all previously reported paper-based microbial batteries. The polymer-paper structures are lightweight, low-cost and flexible. Power enhancement can be potentially achieved by simply folding or stacking the hybrid, flexible paper-polymer devices.' Read on...

BingU News: SCIENTISTS CREATE BIODEGRADABLE, PAPER-BASED BIOBATTERIES
Author: Rachael Flores


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jul 2018

Team of 25 researchers from 7 institutes in Europe, USA and China (Linköping University, Sweden: Shula Chen, Xiao-Ke Liu, Liangqi Ouyang, Yingzhi Jin, Galia Pozina, Irina A. Buyanova, Weimin M. Chen, Olle Inganäs, Fengling Zhang, Feng Gao; Georgia Institute of Technology, USA: Zilong Zheng, Veaceslav Coropceanu, Jean-Luc Brédas; Chinese Academy of Sciences, China: Deping Qian, Huifeng Yao, Sunsun Li, Bowei Gao, Jianhui Hou; École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland: Wolfgang Tress; Imperial College, UK: Thomas R. Hopper, Artem A. Bakulin; The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong: Jing Liu, Shangshang Chen, He Yan; University of Cambridge, UK: Jiangbin Zhang) have come together to develop rules for designing high-efficiency organic solar cells. Their research, 'Design rules for minimizing voltage losses in high-efficiency organic solar cells', was published in Nature Materials. Lead researcher, Prof. Feng Gao of Linköping University, says, 'We have formulated some rational design rules to minimize energy losses in organic solar cells. Following these rules, we present a range of examples with low energy losses and high power conversion efficiencies.' The research provides two fundamental rules to minimize energy losses in organic solar cells - (1) Minimize the energy offset between donor and acceptor components. (2) Make sure that the low-gap component in the blend has a high photoluminescence yield. According to researchers, theoretically the limit for the fraction of the sun's energy that can be obtained in solar cells is around 33%, but laboratory experiments with silicon-based solar cells have achieved 25% at best. Prof. Olle Inganäs of Linköping University, 'But we now know that there is no difference - the theoretical limit is the same for solar cells manufactured from silicon, perovskites, or polymers.' Read on...

Photonics Media: Design Rules for Building Efficient Organic Solar Cells
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 jul 2018

In a developing country like India low-income groups often lack access to proper healthcare. But, mobile technology can provide ways to enable these groups have knowledge and resources to drive preventative healthcare. Lead researchers, Aakash Ganju (co-founder of Avegen), Sumiti Saharan (Neuroscientist, Team Lead of Design & Research at Avegen), Alice Lin (Global Director of social innovation at Johnson & Johnson), Lily W. Lee (President of Almata, a division of Avegen), explain the research conducted by their team on the digital usage patterns of underserved groups in two urban areas of India, and iteratively tested user interface and content design. Researchers generated primary research insights from more than 250 new mothers and fathers living in low-income communities, and achieve understanding of the core barriers and digital needs of this population. Researchers suggest, 'Embedding health care into digital tools requires that providers overcome contextual barriers and undertake deliberate design processes. To succeed, providers must develop a nuanced understanding of the obstacles to consuming information digitally, as well as glean insights from technology, interface design, and behavioral science.' Following are some insights from the research - (1) Cost is no longer the biggest barrier: In the last year, a strong government regulatory authority has promoted competition and consumer benefits that have rapidly driven down both smartphone and data costs. (2) Infrastructure can overcome any remaining cost barriers: Only 5% of people living in less-connected and less-developed localities owned smartphones, compared to a significant 56% of individuals with similar incomes living in neighborhoods with good mobile network and infrastructure. (3) Digital experiences are not often built for low-income, urban populations: The most pervasive barrier to digital adoption in India today is a lack of knowledge about how to use digital interfaces. Language is also a barrier. India has an overall literacy rate of 74%. However, only about 10% of Indians can communicate in English - the language of the Internet. Local language content is scarce. There are gaping holes in the understanding of early-stage user requirements and pain points, from both the digital interface and content experience perspectives. (4) There is a lack of trust in health-related digital information: Low-income, underserved communities who have not been exposed to authentic digital content often have extreme distrust in digital information pertaining to health. Only 12% of families thought information from digital sources was reliable, compared to more than 90% finding information from doctors and mothers to be most, very, or somewhat reliable. According to researchers, to truly meet the needs of underserved consumers, providers must focus on the following areas - (1) High-quality content: To engage users on digital platforms, providers must use differentiated content that connects with a user's specific journey. The form, tone, and continuity of content matters. Video formats optimized for small, low-quality displays are most effective in driving engagement. When visual formats are not feasible, audio formats are the next best alternative. Understand the environments in which users consume health. Include local elements in the content, like referring to local clinics etc. (2) Behavior change: Engaging users is vital to directing changes in consumer health behavior. It's important to be deliberate about the design of the user journey. Offering incentives for content consumption, sharing, and specific health-related behaviors can help nudge users toward desired health-related behaviors. (3) Technology: Mobile apps need to be light and fast, have low memory and data requirements, and be able to run on slow and patchy networks. Display data consumption frequently, enhanced ability to view offline content and share content within community is important for engagement. (4) Design team structure: Multidisciplinary teams that bring together expertise in technology, design, business and sustainability, end-user thinking, and behavioral sciences tend to create the most effective designs. To design for the end user, providers must design with the end user, particularly for populations who are not digitally fluent. Teams should develop a thinking environment and processes that allow for hypothesis development, application design, testing, analytics, and retesting in rapid, parallel, iterative cycles. Read on...

Stanford Social Innovation Review: Expanding Access to Health Care in India Through Strong Mobile Design
Authors: Aakash Ganju, Sumiti Saharan, Alice Lin Fabiano, Lily W. Lee


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 may 2018

Researchers at The University of British Columbia (Okanagan, Canada), Prof. Abbas Milani and graduate student Armin Rashidi, are working to solve the issue of wrinkling when it comes to making textile composites. Their research, 'A multi-step biaxial bias extension test for wrinkling/de-wrinkling characterization of woven fabrics: Towards optimum forming design guidelines', was recently published in Materials & Design Journal. According to Prof. Milani, wrinkling is one of the most common flaws in textile composites, which are widely used for prototypes, as well as mass production within prominent aerospace, energy, automotive and marine applications. Researchers have investigated several de-wrinkling methods and have discovered that they can improve their effectiveness by pulling the materials in two directions simultaneously during the manufacturing process. Mr. Rashidi says, 'The challenge was to avoid unwanted fibre misalignment or fibre rupture while capturing the out-of-plane wrinkles. Manufacturers who use these types of composites are looking for more information about their mechanical behaviour, especially under combined loading scenarios.' Prof. Milani, who is director of Materials and Manufacturing Research Institute at UBC Okanagan, says, 'Composite textiles are changing the way products are designed and built in advanced manufacturing sectors. As we continue to innovate in the area of composite textiles to include more polymer resin and fibre reinforcement options, this research will need to continue in order to provide the most up-to-date analysis for manufacturers in different application areas.' Read on...

UBC Okanagan News: Researchers improve textile composite manufacturing
Author: Nathan Skolski


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 apr 2018

According to a report by The Times of India, engineers in India are now showing more interest in the automobile industry as compared to the usual IT industry, signalling a boom time for the more traditional manufacturing sector. Tightening of US visa rules, streamlining of staff by big IT companies and increasing importance of big data and artificial intelligence in automobile industry are some factors promoting this shift. NASSCOM says that IT sector will see single-digit growth for the third-consecutive year and jobless growth for the second year. Gopal Mahadevan, CFO of Ashok Leyland, says, 'Earlier mechanical engineers were going to the IT industry but now they're coming back. There appears a reverse brain drain happening and suddenly we're getting lots of applications from this segment, much more than in the last 3 years.' According to the Naukri Jobspeak data for March 2018, there has been significant hiring growth for the auto industry. The sector has witnessed a 33% growth in March 2018 compared to March 2017. Rajan Wadhera, President of Automotive Division at Mahindra & Mahindra, says, 'The IT allure is beginning to wear off as that segment has almost reached a saturation point. The pay growth is also not as good as it once was. So the attraction to join the auto industry is back.' Thammaiah B. N., MD of Kelly Services, says, 'Product specialists are in demand and their experience levels are in the tune of 8 to 10 years or higher. The auto industry itself has stepped up its hiring by 30% and IT has been a major contributor.' Read on...

The Economic Times: Automobile industry is the new IT for India's engineers
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 oct 2017

India's future success will be defined on the basis of how its positive elements like demographic dividend, IT and software, manufacturing, agriculture, government initiatives (Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, Startup India) etc, gel together effectively and grow. Adding to all these, focus on research, design and innovation, will further propel creation and development of new and emerging technologies and concepts. Specifically, Indian auto industry does have R&D capabilities, but it is mostly driven by foreign collaborations and partnerships. Moreover, Indian operations of most foreign auto makers rely on their global development centers when it comes to technological innovations. But the dynamics of the industry are shifting, and companies are mobilizing resources and assets towards design and development also, in addition to manufacturing. The change is also visible in the electric vehicle segment with a strong policy focus. Recent conference organized by NASSCOM and Autocar Professional was directed towards discussing the design, R&D and technology based future of the industry. Sameer Yajnik, COO-APAC of Tata Technologies, says, 'Indian engineers, thus far, have brought together just a few parts of the jigsaw puzzle in terms of vehicle development, but this is set to be transformed. With EVs, ADAS, autonomous, connected cars, et al, there are a slew of technology-driven changes that need to be responded to and India is an excellent place.' Patrick Newbery, Chief Digital Officer of Global Logic, says, 'Design and engineering work best when coupled together, and the Indian start-up ecosystem has displayed a good show of that already...Amalgamating design and engineering, as well as with its ability to innovate and create as a response-stimulus to change, India holds a strong place in developing new future technologies, where even the US would be looking outside to outsource these innovative solutions. There is more likelihood of innovation coming out of such environment.' Current spend in automotive engineering and R&D of Europe is 35%, that of US is 25% and, India's is at 10%. This is expected to triple in next 3 years. Sanjeev Verma, CEO of Altran India, says, 'India holds a very important place in the whole jigsaw and especially can play a great role in designing passive safety and IoT systems...With the whole ecosystem springing up now, the next three to four years are going to be extremely transformational for the development vertical in the Indian automotive sector.' Commenting on design in India, Raman Vaidyanathan of Tech Mahindra says, 'Indian engineering is bound to be more frugal, compared to the rest of the world because of the country’s legacy in being cost conscious. This is very positive as it implies that a good quality product, designed and developed to a cost in India could be produced in the emerged markets, while the reverse is going to prove rather expensive.' The challenge of skilled human resources in design and engineering in India remains. NASSCOM has started a foundation course in integrated product development that has reached 1000 colleges since CY2015. Government, academica and industry has to come up with integrated strategies that need to be applied to upgrade the knowledge and skills of graduates coming out of technology institutes and ensure success of design, research and development in India. Read on...

Autocar Professional: Beyond Make in India - Design and develop in India now imperative
Authors: Sumantra B. Barooah, Mayank Dhingra


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 sep 2017

Team of architects at Ant Studio (India) - Monish Siripurapu, Abhishek Sonar, Atul Sekhar, Sudhanshu Kumar - have used computational technologies (CFD Analysis) and reinvented the traditional evaporative cooling technique to lower temperature of emissions from an electronics factory with less cost, energy consumption and impact on surrounding environment. Ancient Egyptians, Persians and later on Mughals in India utilized the evaporative cooling technique to overcome hot climate. According to a research study by Prof. Asif Ali of Aligarh Muslim University (India), published in International Transaction Journal of Engineering, Management, & Applied Sciences & Technologies (2013), 'The emperor's throne at the centre of Diwan-e-Khas is surrounded by two sets of openings four meters apart from each other. These openings were covered with grass mats with sprinkled water during summers...' The architects from Ant Studio stacked cylindrical terracotta cones, giving it a circular shape, and water was made to run over them. Hot air coming from the generators passed over the system lowering the temperature substantially. Further technical details of the system can be obtained from an ArchDaily.com article 'This Innovative Cooling Installation Fights Soaring Temperatures in New Delhi.' Monish Siripurapu, founder of Ant Studio, says, 'As an architect, I wanted to find a solution that is ecological and artistic, and at the same time evolves traditional craft methods...I believe this experiment worked quite well functionally. Findings from this attempt opened up a lot more possibilities where we can integrate this technique with forms that could redefine the way we look at cooling systems, a necessary yet ignored component of a building’s functionality. Every installation could be treated as an art piece...The circular profile can be changed into an artistic interpretation while the falling waters lend a comforting ambience. This, intermingled with the sensuous petrichor from the earthen cylinders allow for it to work in any environment with the slightest of breeze. Having said that, there are many factories throughout the country that face a similar issue and this is a solution that can be easily adopted and a widespread multiplication of this concept may even assist the local potters.' Read on...

Atlas Obscura: Architects in India Use Natural Cooling to Take the Edge off Factory Emissions
Author: Vittoria Traverso


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 sep 2017

Education and learning has to keep pace with the happenings in industry, and equip students with the cutting-edge knowledge and skills, to assure their success in the highly competitive marketplace. Simon Biggs, Education Liaison Officer for Wales at Renishaw, explains how 3D printing is the new technology that is becoming mainstream part of the classrooms for engineering and mathematical learning. Mr. Biggs says, '3D printing is a well-established industrial technology for prototyping and manufacturing, particularly popular with the aerospace and defence sectors. Also known as additive manufacturing (AM), 3D printing is the process of making a solid 3D object from a digital computer aided design (CAD) file...3D printing is a rapid production method with minimal waste material. Its design flexibility means users can manufacture bespoke objects for a low cost...Understanding and using this growing technology can benefit children's learning, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects but also beyond these more traditional fields in music, design technology, history, geography and biology...Exciting and innovative projects are also a simple way to keep pupils engaged in STEM subjects, which is a vital step forward in addressing the STEM skills shortage.' Explaining the rise of 3D printers in schools and their use to develop new skills in students, he says, 'The increasing numbers of 3D printers in schools is not only due to the increasing recognition of 3D printing being a relevant and engaging educational tool, but also relates to the number and availability of low cost 3D printing machines...Advances in resources available for teachers and other education professionals are also making 3D printing more widely accessible...Using 3D printing as a production method enables students and pupils to move from the conception of an idea to producing a physical object with relative ease...Interrogating a physical object can make it easier for pupils to spot mistakes in designs. This allows them to gain valuable problem solving skills in a creative, hands-on way.' Read on...

The Engineer: The future of 3D printing in education
Author: Simon Biggs


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 jun 2017

Innovation Showcase (ISHOW) by American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is a hardware competition for socially minded projects. The purpose is to create awareness that hardware engineers too play a role in social innovation. K. Keith Roe, President of ASME, says, 'Our research showed a tremendous lack of support for hardware innovators seeking to enter global markets and make a societal impact.' Paul Scott, ASME ISHOW Director, says, 'From South America to West Africa to Southeast Asia, there are many talented folks that are changing paradigms with their work.' Currently, ASME ISHOW is held in US, Kenya and India. This year's American competition will be held on 22 June 2017. According to ISHOW website (thisishardware.org), 10 American finalists alongwith their projects are - (1) Hahna Alexander (SmartBoots: Self-charging work boots that collect status and location data and provide workforces in hazardous environments with actionable insights); (2) Jonathan Cedar (BioLite HomeStove: An ultra-clean cookstove that reduces smoke emissions by 90% and biomass fuel consumption by 50% compared to traditional open fire cooking, while also co-generating electricity from the flame to charge mobile phones and lights); (3) Matthew Chun (RevX: A transfemoral rotator that restores dignity to low-income amputees by enabling them to sit cross legged, dress themselves, get back to work, and more); (4) Shivang Dave (QuickSee: PlenOptika developed the QuickSee to disrupt the barriers to eyeglass prescriptions for billions of people worldwide so that they can get the eyeglasses they need); (5) Alexandra Grigore (Simprints: With a novel fingerprinting system, Simprints aims to create a world where lack of identity is never the reason why anyone is denied basic services in healthcare, education and finance); (6) Mary McCulloch (Voz Box: Millions of people, right now, are nonverbal. Current devices are too expensive and uncustomizable. The Voz Box is an innovative speech generation device that has customizable sensors and is affordable); (7) Erica Schwarz (Kaleyedos Imaging Device (KID): A revolutionary infant retinal imager that will empower neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) worldwide to decrease the incidence of visual impairment and blindness due to infant retinal disease); (8) Kenji Tabery (VeggieNest: Smart home gardening systems, and aims to address the growing market need for access to organic, affordable, and nutritious produce that enable global consumers to be food secure); (9) Team Sixth Sense (Team Sixth Sense: We have designed a system of sensor to attach to lower-limb prosthetics that works with NeoSensory's current technology to provide realtime vibrotactile feedback); (10) Quang Truong (EV 8 Cooler: Evaptainers creates low-cost mobile refrigerators that run on water. These are perfect for low income families who live off grid or cannot afford a conventional refrigerator). Read on...

Technical.ly DC: 10 engineers will showcase hardware's role in social innovation
Author: Nia Dickens


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 mar 2017

Norimasa Nishiyama of German Electron Synchrotron DESY, and international team of researchers from Germany and Japan (Ryo Ishikawa, Hiroaki Ohfuji, Hauke Marquardt, Alexander Kurnosov, Takashi Taniguchi, Byung-Nam Kim, Hidehiro Yoshida, Atsunobu Masuno, Jozef Bednarcik, Eleonora Kulik, Yuichi Ikuhara, Fumihiro Wakai, Tetsuo Irifune), have created a 2mm diameter disc of transparent silicon nitride, one of the hardest material known. The scientific report titled, 'Transparent Polycrystalline Cubic Silicon Nitride', was recently published in Nature. The transparent ceramic could be used for ultra-tough windows able to withstand extreme conditions. Windows that let users peer into engines and industrial reactors, or protect optical sensors from high pressures or heat are usually made of diamond, an expensive material that becomes unstable at 750°C. On the other hand, transparent silicon nitride ceramic can withstand temperatures upto 1400°C and is much cheaper. Read on...

Chemistry World: Super-hard transparent ceramic looks good
Author: Katrina Krämer


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 mar 2017

Team of researchers from IIT-Kharagpur, Prof. Sudip Misra, Prof. N. S. Raghuwanshi, Anandarup Mukherjee and Arijit Roy, has designed India's first indgenous drone, BHIM, that can create a Wi-Fi zone within a nearly 1 km radius when it flies overhead. It is specifically designed for emergency and conflict situations. It has a battery backup of 7 hours, can fly into a disaster zone and create a seamless communication network for those involved in the operation. The automated drone has an actual vision-based guidance with built-in intelligence that helps it identify if an area is crowded or not. It will then fly away and land in a safer place. According to Prof. Sudip Mishra, 'Such advanced built-in intelligence is not available in drones now. The design is completely in-house. The controlling and guiding algorithms of the drone have been developed in our lab.' Internet of Things (IoT) is an important component of the drone. Read on...

The Times of India: IIT-Kharagpur develops superpower drone BHIM
Author: Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 12 mar 2017

Researchers from Hokkaido University (Japan) have created 'fiber-reinforced soft composites' or tough hydrogels combined with woven fiber fabric. The study, 'Energy-Dissipative Matrices Enable Synergistic Toughening in Fabric Reinforced Soft Composites' (Authors - Yiwan Huang, Daniel R. King, Taolin Sun, Takayuki Nonoyama, Takayuki Kurokawa, Tasuku Nakajima, Jian Ping Gong), was recently published in Advanced Functional Materials. Researchers combined hydrogels containing high levels of water with glass fiber fabric to create bendable, yet tough materials, employing the same method used to produce reinforced plastics. They found that a combination of polyampholyte (PA) gels, a type of hydrogel they developed earlier, and glass fiber fabric with a single fiber measuring around 10µm in diameter produced a strong, tensile material. The procedure to make the material is simply to immerse the fabric in PA precursor solutions for polymerization. The developed fiber-reinforced hydrogels are 25 times tougher than glass fiber fabric, and 100 times tougher than hydrogels. Moreover, the newly developed hydrogels are 5 times tougher compared to carbon steel. According to lead researcher, Prof. Jian Ping Gong, 'The fiber-reinforced hydrogels, with a 40 percent water level, are environmentally friendly. The material has multiple potential applications because of its reliability, durability and flexibility. For example, in addition to fashion and manufacturing uses, it could be used as artificial ligaments and tendons, which are subject to strong load-bearing tensions.' Read on...

Hokkaido University News: New "tougher-than-metal" fiber-reinforced hydrogels
Authors: Jian Ping Gong, Naoki Namba


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 feb 2017

Society continues to face challenges to construct affordable, high-quality, innovative and future-focused built environments. Many building processes are sub-standard and obsolete, with sustainability concerns. Current research on integration of digital technologies within architectural and construction processes promises substantial contributions to sustainability and productivity. Research connections between diverse fields like architecture, structural design, computer science, materials science, control systems engineering, and robotics are required. Researchers during the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 2017 reveal latest developments in digital fabrication in architecture at 1:1 building scale. They explain successful integration of digital technologies in design, planning, and building processes to transform the building industry. (1) On Site Digital Fabrication for Architecture: Prof. Jonas Buchli, Agile and Dexterous Robotics at ETH Zurich (Switzerland), proposes a radical focus on domain specific robotic technology enabling the use of digital fabrication directly on construction sites and in large scale prefabrication. (2) The New Mathematics of Making: Prof. Jane Burry, Director of the Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory at RMIT University in Melbourne (Australia), explores how these opportunities (Digital computation; Linking of design attributes to extraneous factors; Mathematical design models etc) for automation, optimization, variation, mass-customisation, and quality control can be fully realised in the built environment within full scale construction. (3) Building Materials for 3D Printing: Prof. Ronald Rael, Architecture at University of California at Berkeley (USA), reveals the development of new materials that can overcome the challenges of scale and costs of 3D printing on 1:1 construction scale. He demonstrates that viable solutions for 3D printing in architecture involve a material supply from sustainable resources, culled from waste streams or consideration of the efficiency of a building product's digital materiality. Read on...

ETH Zurich Global News: Digital Fabrication in Architecture - The Challenge to Transform the Building Industry
Author: Rahel Byland Skvarc


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jan 2017

Team of researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA) (Markus Buehler, Zhao Qin, Gang Seob Jung, Min Jeong Kang), has designed one of the strongest lightweight materials known, by compressing and fusing flakes of graphene, a 2-dimensional form of carbon. The new material, a sponge-like configuration with just 5% the density of steel, can have a strength 10 times more. The findings, published in the journal 'Science Advances', show that critical factor of 3-D form is their unusual geometrical figure, suggesting that similar strong, lightweight materials can be made from other materials by creating similar geometric figures. 2-D materials have exceptional strength alongwith unique electrical proberties. But they are extraordinarily thin. Prof. Buehler says, 'They are not very useful for making 3-D materials that could be used in vehicles, buildings, or devices. What we've done is to realize the wish of translating these 2-D materials into 3-D structures.' Prof. Qin adds, 'Once we created these 3-D structures, we wanted to see what's the limit - what's the strongest possible material we can produce.' According to Prof. Buehler, 'You can replace the material itself with anything. The geometry is the dominant factor. It's something that has the potential to transfer to many things.' Prof. Huajian Gao of Brown University comments, 'This is an inspiring study on the mechanics of 3-D graphene assembly. The combination of computational modeling with 3-D-printing-based experiments used in this paper is a powerful new approach in engineering research. It is impressive to see the scaling laws initially derived from nanoscale simulations resurface in macroscale experiments under the help of 3-D printing. This study shows a promising direction of bringing the strength of 2-D materials and the power of material architecture design together.' Read on...

MIT News: Researchers design one of the strongest, lightest materials known
Author: David L. Chandler


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 sep 2016

Researchers from Stanford University [Po-Chun Hsu, Alex Y. Song, Peter B. Catrysse, Chong Liu, Yucan Peng, Jin Xie, Shanhui Fan, Yi Cui] have developed a low-cost, plastic-based textile that, when woven into clothing, has the ability to keep the body cool more efficiently as compared to the natural or synthetic fabrics that are used today. The research was published in journal 'Science' titled, 'Radiative human body cooling by nanoporous polyethylene textile'. According to Prof. Yi Cui of Materials Science and Engineering, 'If you can cool the person rather than the building where they work or live, that will save energy.' The new material cools by letting perspiration evaporate through it, as fabrics normally do. But the other most innovative characteristic of the material's cooling mechanism is that it allows heat that the body emits as infrared radiation to pass through the plastic textile. Prof. Shanhui Fan of Electrical Engineering says, '40-60% of our body heat is dissipated as infrared radiation when we are sitting in an office. But until now there has been little or no research on designing the thermal radiation characteristics of textiles.' Researchers engineered the cooling material by blending nanotechnology photonics and chemistry to give polyethylene, the material used as kitchen wrap, a number of characteristics desirable in clothing material. It allows thermal radiation, air and water vapor to pass right through, and it is opaque to visible light. Prof. Cui says, 'If you want to make a textile, you have to be able to make huge volumes inexpensively.' According to Prof. Fan, 'This research opens up new avenues of inquiry to cool or heat things, passively, without the use of outside energy, by tuning materials to dissipate or trap infrared radiation.' Read on...

Stanford News: Stanford engineers develop a plastic clothing material that cools the skin
Author: Tom Abate


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 sep 2016

Multidisciplinary team of researchers lead by Prof. Amin Salehi-Khojin from University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) have engineered a process through a solar cell to mimic plants' ability to convert carbon dioxide into fuel, a way to decrease the amounts of harmful gas in the atmosphere and produce clean energy. According to Prof. Salehi-Khojin, 'The artificial leaf essentially recycles carbon dioxide. And it's powered entirely by the sun, mimicking the real photosynthesis process. Real leaves use the energy from the sun and convert carbon dioxide to sugar. In the artificial leaf that we built, we use the sun and we convert CO2 to (synthetic gas), which can be converted to any hydrocarbon, like gasoline.' Describing the process Prof. Salehi-Khojin said, 'The energy of the sun rearranges the chemical bonds of the carbon dioxide. So the sun's energy is being stored in the form of chemical bonds, which can be burned as fuel...Scientists around the world have been studying carbon reduction, as this type of reaction is called, for years.' Prof. Nathan Lewis of California Institute of Technology, who has been studying solar fuels and artificial photosynthesis for more than 40 years, says, 'UIC's development is only a small piece of an eventual solar fuel product that can be widely implemented. There's a lot of steps that need to occur to envision how these things would translate into a commercializable system, but it's a step for building a piece of a full system that may be useful.' Prof. Michael R. Wasielewski of Northwestern University comments, 'UIC's development could push renewable energy technology forward.' The research, 'Nanostructured transition metal dichalcogenide electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction in ionic liquid', was recently published in journal 'Science'. UIC News Center website (news.uic.edu) provides the following information about co-authors and collaborators of this research - Amin Salehi-Khojin, Mohammad Asadi, Kibum Kim, Aditya Venkata Addepalli, Pedram Abbasi, Poya Yasaei, Amirhossein Behranginia, Bijandra Kumar and Jeremiah Abiade of UIC's Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, who performed the electrochemical experiments and prepared the catalyst; Robert F. Klie and Patrick Phillips of UIC's Physics Department, who performed electron microscopy and spectroscopy experiments; Larry A. Curtiss, Cong Liu and Peter Zapol of Argonne National Laboratory, who did Density Functional Theory calculations; Richard Haasch of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who did ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy; José M. Cerrato of the University of New Mexico, who did elemental analysis. Read on...

Chicago Tribune: UIC researchers develop artificial leaf that turns CO2 into fuel
Author: Ally Marotti


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 12 aug 2016

Team of multidisciplinary researchers from Case Western Reserve University (USA) [Victoria Webster; Roger Quinn; Hillel Chiel; Ozan Akkus; Umut Gurkan; Emma L. Hawley; Jill M. Patel; Katherine J. Chapin], have created a 'biohybrid' robot by combining sea slug materials with 3D printed parts, that can crawl like sea turtle. Scientists suggest that in future, swarms of biohybrid robots could be released for such tasks as locating the source of a toxic leak in a pond that would send animals fleeing. They could also be used to search the ocean floor for a black box flight data recorder, a potentially long process that may leave current robots stilled with dead batteries. According to Ms. Webster, PhD student and lead researcher, 'We're building a living machine - a biohybrid robot that's not completely organic - yet. For the searching tasks, we want the robots to be compliant, to interact with the environment. One of the problems with traditional robotics, especially on the small scale, is that actuators - the units that provide movement - tend to be rigid.' Researchers also explain that if completely organic robots prove workable a swarm released at sea or in a pond or a remote piece of land, won't be much of a worry if they can't be recovered. They're likely to be inexpensive and won't pollute the location with metals and battery chemicals but be eaten or degrade into compost. Read on...

think - CWRU Blog: Researchers build a crawling robot from sea slug parts and a 3-D printed body
Author: Kevin Mayhood


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jul 2016

Packaging is an important component of product handling, logistics, advertising, marketing and selling. There are variety of materials that are currently in use for packaging. Environmental challenges arise due to the waste generated through discarded packagings. The packaging industry is exploring better materials that can reduce environmental footprint. In spite of scientific breakthroughs in developing new packaging materials, there are issues related to their performance and price, inhibiting their mass adoption and usage. Bryan Shova, packaging designer and industrial design director at Kaleidoscope, explains sustainability aspects of packaging. He says, 'I dream of the day when material science and manufacturing can deliver on the promise of zero environmental impact, high performance, premium finish and low costs.' He explains, 'The viability of true sustainability is a complex economic challenge, and the ugly truth is that few consumers, brand owners or municipalities are willing to pay the premium price for cutting-edge sustainable packaging solutions. True solutions will come through "systems thinking" that requires the material supplier, manufacturer, retailer, consumer and the municipality to share in the premium costs and labor required to design, collect and recycle packaged materials.' He provides 10 principles for designing sustainable packaging - (1) Start with commodity materials that are commonly recycled. (2) Design the package from a single material. (3) Focus on the product-to-package ratio. (4) Design for assembly at the point of manufacture. (5) Avoid gluing and laminations. (6) Design for distribution. (7) Eliminate secondary and tertiary packaging when possible. (8) Design for disassembly. (9) Clearly mark the materials on the packaging components. (10) Use Lifecycle Assessment. Read on...

Packaging Digest: 10 ways to design sustainable packaging with intent
Author: Bryan Shova


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 may 2016

As the need for intensive and intermediate care increases, the hospitals must have spaces that can fulfil the requirement. The multi-organizational collaborative EVICURES project at Seinäjoki Central Hospital in Finland was undertaken to develop a new design model for future intensive and intermediate care needs. The result of research conducted by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland on evidence-based design (EBD) and user orientation were applied to design work. Currently, there are no ICUs with single patient rooms in Finland. According to Kari Saarinen, Project Manager of the EVICURES project and Chief Physician at ICU of Hospital District of South Ostrobothnia, 'The international trend is that the need for intermediate care in particular is increasing. More and more demanding methods are being used for treating patients, and the share of elderly patients is increasing.' Regarding the project, he adds, 'The operations will be more cost-efficient and of higher quality, when the equipment and nursing staff are concentrated into one place. We also expect the solution to have remarkable effects on patient healing.' The hospital staff, management, patients and their families, the hospital district, and other cooperation partners participated in the design work. Tiina Yli-Karhu, Design Coordinator at Hospital District of South Ostrobothnia, says, 'A user-oriented approach was an essential foundation for the whole project. This way we can all together make the major change about to happen easier, when the nursing staff is moving from facilities for multiple patients to working alone in single rooms.' Using the Human Thermal Model tool, VTT performed questionnaire studies and measurements to evaluate the individual thermal sensation and comfort of both the staff and patients, that were utilized in HVAC design. Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences used CAD methods to model a virtual space in accordance with the architectural drawing, which VTT utilised for improving user-friendliness. From this 3D model, VTT developed a Unity3D game for computer and tablet, allowing the staff to move around in the ICU facilities virtually and to experience realistic interactive care situations in the new working area in advance. Finland's first single-patient intensive and intermediate care and cardiac unit designed in accordance with this model will become operational in 2018. Read on...

VTT Research News: A new treatment room design model for future hospitals
Author: Nykänen Esa

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