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March 19, 2013
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News for Engineering Professionals

  • Google Ventures sprints to solutions for portfolio companies
    Google Ventures' design team takes a concentrated approach to new projects for Google's portfolio companies that might be described as a sprint. The approach requires establishing the goal, sorting through the company's ideas and discarding the majority that won't work to quickly narrow the band of strategies that might serve. It also means keeping a fresh perspective by not allowing team members to investigate each company too extensively beforehand. (3/15) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Aerospace technologies to help Lockheed Martin mine the seabed
    Technologies developed for aerospace and related applications are increasingly useful for undersea mining, a factor that helped a Lockheed Martin unit win a license to prospect for minerals in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Mexico. UK Seabed Resources, a subsidiary of a British arm of Lockheed Martin, will be looking for nodules of copper, nickel, cobalt, manganese and rare-earth minerals on the seabed about 2.5 miles deep. The company plans to use "remotely operated or autonomous underwater vehicles, pumps, suction and riser pipes to extract the minerals." Defense News (3/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • GE partners with Danish center to test 10MW turbines
    GE has announced an agreement with a Danish center to build a facility to test wind turbine nacelles with an output of up to 10 megawatts. GE said the project will "test the functionality and performance of wind turbine nacelles by using a specially designed adapter that enables the turbine hub and all field operational software and hardware -- including pitch control –- to be included in the test." (3/15) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Hitachi device delivers its human cargo as passive passengers
    A robotic vehicle from Hitachi can navigate across sidewalks and around pedestrians and safely traverse uneven surfaces, taking passengers to their chosen destinations without human input. The Robot for Personal Intelligent Transport System, or Ropits, is a one-person vehicle that operates with GPS, gyroscopes and laser distance sensors to handle most environments -- although there's a joystick onboard in case the going gets too complicated. CNET (3/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  News Affecting Your Business 
  • U.S. first-to-file patent rules took effect Saturday
    The U.S. is set to enforce new first-to-file rules under the America Invents Act that went into effect Saturday. The new rules represent major changes to the nation's patent system, including increasing the amount of foreign prior art upon which claims of patent applications submitted by medical device firms after March 16 can be rejected by an examiner. Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry online (3/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • SBA is seeing loan growth in fiscal 2013
    The Small Business Administration is continuing with a multiyear push to expand loan availability and streamline its loan-guarantee approval process, says Jeanne Hulit, associate administrator for capital access. This fiscal year, government-guaranteed loans have increased 6%, compared with fiscal 2012. However, it's not clear whether that growth will continue because the effect of the sequester is not yet known. Bloomberg Businessweek (3/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Technology and Trends 
  • Report: "Fiber gap" for commercial buildings is starting to close
    Nearly two in three U.S. commercial buildings are still not connected to fiber networks, but steady growth in the segment over the past decade is helping to close the gap, Vertical Systems Group is reporting. "The U.S. fiber gap has been steadily closing each year and this trend will continue," said Rosemary Cochran, principal at Vertical Systems Group. "A top growth challenge cited by both retail and wholesale network operators is the expansion of their fiber footprints as rapidly as possible to meet customer demand for higher speed services." (3/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Molten-salt reactors promise safer power, less cost
    A revival of an old type of nuclear power reactor could run on nuclear waste, be immune to meltdowns and provide power at half the cost of current plants with a new design being developed by Transatomic, a spinoff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The reactors, which use molten-salt technology proven at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s, also are much smaller and can be produced in factories and shipped by rail. MIT Technology Review online (3/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Drillers increase R&D spending to speed up U.S. production boom
    Baker Hughes, Halliburton and other oilfield services companies are increasing their spending on research and development in an effort to speed up the U.S. energy production boom, observers say. "From 2004 to 2012, the development of shales was basically, hit it with a big sledgehammer and see what comes out," said Richard Spears, vice president of Spears & Associates. "Now the question is who can do it the best and optimize the process. Shales aren't tube socks, a one-size-fits-all thing." The Wall Street Journal (3/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Building a pressure suit provides valuable lessons in engineering
    When Kristian von Bengtson, a former NASA contractor, set about building his own pressure suit, he made it a learning process. And what he learned, Bengtson writes, is a fundamental lesson of engineering: "that if you want to build a complex thing, you have to understand that it is a system, an assemblage of items that are meant to work together." Shop blog (3/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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