NSPE Blog

February 6, 2012 - 07:55
Roger Boisjoly, the engineer who warned of a possible O-ring failure that could lead to the destruction of the space shuttleChallenger, died on January 6 in Utah, according to theNew York Times. Nearly a decade after the disaster, Boisjoly shared his story with NSPE. Below is the complete article from the August 1995 issue ofEngineering Times. PE Perseveres, 10 Years After Challenger Explosion By Molly Galvin Associate Editor As filmgoers pack Apollo 13 and marvel at the story about a disaster that almost was, Roger Boisjoly tells the story of the disaster that NASA...
December 14, 2011 - 13:52
The National Academy of Engineering’sfinal reporton the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster from April 2010 does not specifically list oversight from professional engineers as a potential safeguard for future rig operations. It does, however, call for independent oversight from qualified parties on many aspects of rig safety, equipment, and operations. The offshore drilling industry should also establish an effective safety culture to prevent future potential disasters. Paul Bommer, P.E., a member of the Academy’s panel, said that, because each state licenses engineers and the...
December 2, 2011 - 09:19
The holidays are a time of reflection and thoughts of how we all can help our fellow human beings. The most important professions include not only those who excel at the technical aspects of their craft, but who also measure their impact on society. We were reminded of that when we spoke with the heads of four engineering societies in November. When asked what gift they would give to engineering this holiday season, their wishes may as well have been identical: Share your engineering expertise outside the lab or construction site to make our world a better, safer place. Listen to Carl...
November 17, 2011 - 13:19
The House last night passed the Senate-amended version ofH.R. 674by a vote of 422 to 0, ending a protracted battle to repeal an onerous tax-withholding mandate that would place significant financial and administrative burdens on engineering firms that contract with the government. The bill now heads to the president's desk, where he is expected to sign it into law. (Note: H.R. 674 was later signed into law by President Obama on 11/21/11.) H.R. 674 would repeal Section 511 of the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 (PL 109-222), which requires federal, state, and...
September 27, 2011 - 15:12
On September 26,Sesame Streetlaunched its 42nd season with a new focus: science, technology, engineering, and math. The show will teach preschoolers about STEM to help prepare them for school in areas where the U.S. is falling behind other countries. Throughout the season, the show’s loveable characters will use scientific inquiry on challenging problems—from experiments on “what worms like to squirm on best” to engineering a boat for Zoe’s pet rock—to get kids thinking like engineers and scientists. While once students were lucky if they got any exposure to engineering before they hit...
August 26, 2011 - 15:24
By Benjamin Roode Staff Writer My dad you used joke that, when he grew up, he wanted to be a cowboy. It was a joke because he’d tell young children this while he was performing his duties as chief of police in our home town. To the kids, dad was the obvious grown up in the room. It’s not so much of a stretch, though. Dad grew up in the 1960s, when cowboys, astronauts, and any other of the traditional dream jobs were featured heavily on television. Note: There were not, and are not now, many engineers in those career outlook-shaping shows. Some groups, however, are...
May 13, 2011 - 15:17
Engineering students at the University of Maryland may not walk away with the Sikorsky Prize, but they’re still excited about their accomplishment Thursday. Their two-year project, Gamera, a human-powered helicopter, appears to have lifted pilot Judy Wexler several inches into the air, the first time a woman has piloted a human-powered helicopter, according to university officials. Officials from the National Aeronautical Association were reviewing video of the attempt as of this blog post to confirm whether she indeed lifted off. Despite the milestone Thursday, the motivation for...
April 25, 2011 - 14:06
An article in the April issue ofPEmagazine toldthe storyof NSPE member Mark Johnson, P.E., who proved that there’s not one standard path to earning the PE license. Johnson first took the FE exam in 1987, five years after he graduated, and last December, at age 50, he passed the PE exam. After the article was published,PEmagazine received the following letter: Dear Editor, I just wanted to let you know what a good job I think you did on the Mark Johnson article about how some people just don't get around to being licensed until later in life. I too took the "nontraditional"...
April 13, 2011 - 11:32
What’s the difference between science-based advocacy and advocacy-based science? And what does it mean for professional engineers? In the April issue ofPEmagazine, Anthony Ingraffea, P.E., addresses these questions as they relate to the timely topic of hydraulic fracturing, or fracing. Ingraffea, who is the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University with a background in rock fracture mechanics and hydraulic fracturing, says there is a crucial ethical distinction between science-based advocacy and advocacy-based science. “In the former...
April 1, 2011 - 12:17
Without strong infrastructure systems, our national economic position, including our workforce, production, health, safety, and overall welfare is at risk. Professional engineers play a key role in the planning, design, implementation, construction, operation, and maintenance of this infrastructure. So when the Department of Transportation requested public input on the efficacy of its regulations, NSPE sprang into action. (DOT was responding to President Obama’s January Executive Order, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review,” under which every federal agency must review its existing...

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