Blogs

March 8, 2012 - 09:06
NSPE and MATHCOUNTS are sponsoring a 5,000-square-foot exhibition calledMathAlive!, presented by Raytheon and designed to show math at work as well as its endless possibilities. The world premier of the exhibit will be at the Smithsonian Institution’sInternational Galleryin Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 10 and will run through June 3. The exhibit is designed for families and students. It features interactive and immersive experiences that show the math behind video games, sports, fashion, music, robotics, and more. After the exhibit completes its stay in Washington, D.C...
March 5, 2012 - 13:37
As engineers, we are trained to quantify the world around us to the extent that such analytical representations of our surroundings emerge comfortably, organically. Engineers quantify to innovate and improve: the structural stability of cantilevered bridges like the recentStonecutters Bridgein Hong Kong; the efficiency of a gas scrubber in a new chemical plant in Louisiana; the aerodynamic efficiency of a turbine in the latest globally accessorized jetliner. These are the quantitative fruits of tangible things, but how might one quantify happiness? For one answer, we turn to the world of...
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...
January 23, 2012 - 15:23
Performance statistics for theFundamentals of Engineering Examinationissued by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) are forwarded each year to universities and to state PE licensing boards that request them. These reports are an outstanding tool for programs to use in determining curriculum strengths and weaknesses, and formulating plans for improvement. More and more, university engineering programs are using FE exam reports as an outcomes assessment tool, which is one of the critical components of ABET accreditation processes. These exam results would...
January 18, 2012 - 10:46
California has a convoluted engineering statute that needs fixing. For many years, reasonable legislative initiatives proposed by the PE board, legislators, and other interests have failed due, in large part, to testimony and political influence from factions within the engineering profession in California with interests in maintaining the status quo. [Read arelated articleby Diane Spencer, P.E., vice president of the California Society of Professional Engineers.] California has a unique engineering licensure system. There are three “practice act” disciplines: civil, mechanical, and...
December 15, 2011 - 09:30
Of the many things Steve Jobs will be remembered for, his view on how design aesthetics, creativity, and technology should be closely interwoven has particular resonance for engineers. In expounding upon how the arts and humanities were closely bound to the technical engineering demands at Apple, Jobs emphasized the foundational attainment of innovation through the balance of technological mastery with design mastery. In Walter Isaacson’s biography of the Apple co-founder, Jobs shared this insight: “Edwin Land of Polaroid talked about the intersection of the humanities and science....
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 28, 2011 - 10:47
Many in the engineering licensure community have for decades bemoaned the fact that the percentage of engineering faculty licensed as professional engineers has been declining. This continuing trend is due to a variety of factors, outlined in aprevious article. A new, and brilliant, idea is coming to the fore, which may serve to reverse this trend in the long term. The NSPE Licensure and Qualifications for Practice Committee recently adopted aproposed NSPE position statementadvocating that funding agencies and state licensing boards require principal investigators of R&D projects...
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...

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