The Chevy Volt 2012- Electric when you need it, gas when you want it !

Having been named 2011 North American Car of the Year and 2012 European Car of the Year, the Chevy Volt is truly a futuristic dream car come true. What everybody knows about this beauty is that it is capable of running on both electricity and gas. It has an electric source that allows you to run 35 miles gas free, and a gas generator that produces electricity so  you can drive at total of 375 miles on a full tank of gas. It only costs an average of $1.5/day to charge the Volt in order to drive the full 375 miles. It takes about 10 hours to charge the Volt, but it is simple and convenient, since you can plug it in any standard 120V unit outlet. In

Other than running on two sources of energy, the car sports a variety of other features that make the Chevy Volt as special a car as it is. It can be driven in three modes: normal, sports and mountain mode. Each mode shows the driver feedback accordingly on a pair of LCD screens. The design of the Volt hasn’t been compromised to provide safety or any functions. It has admirable aerodynamic aesthetics; many exterior components including mirrors, a closed grill, rocker panels and the rear spoiler. The vertical blades that go from the bottom of the spoiler to the bottom of the bumper were designed so as to trick the air into separating from the bumper more quickly, resulting in a significantly low drag coefficient. 

The remarkable  advancement are the two mobile phone apps that are available both in App Store and Android Market.The applications allow you to set up reminders in email or text message about charging your car, update you with the current status of your car’s charge, set up service appointments online and future charging times. The myChevrolet app can help locate where you parked your car too. A combination of  technologically innovative features that are embedded in the Chevy Volt 2012 design give its users lots of reasons to value this car.

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Rapid prototyping

Rapid Prototyping (RP) is a series of techniques used to create a model of a part or assembly designed using computer aided design (CAD). A CAD model is converted to a .STL file format and the RP machine processes the STL file by creating the sliced layers of the model. The first RP technique was discovered in 1986 by 3D Systems of Valencia in California, USA.

The obvious benefit of RP is concept testing using an actual physical manifestation of potential design. This is useful because it increases effective communication amongst the design team members and engineers involved. If a concept design fails, it does save companies from bigger capital losses. Therefore, essential changes to the design can be made early on as the RP model gives a clear sense of the specifics of the model’s design. The RP model has the potential to be the final part or assembly. However, usually this is not the case becuase the RP model may not always be sufficiently accurate and strong.

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CN Tower (Toronto, Canada)

CN Tower, 553.3m high and equivalent to 181 story buildings, is a communications tower in downtown Toronto that used to be the tallest free standing structure in the world after its completion in 1976, but it is still the world’s tallest tower.In 1995, it was declared one of the modern seven wonders of the world by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Its architectural style is futurism and its building materials are concrete, glass and steel. It features a glass floor, a revolving floor and an exterior elevator.

Originally the tower was supposed to be a tripod consisting of three cylindrical pillars linked by structural bridges at different heights. This deign would have resulted in a tower with a height much smaller than it is with the current design. But finally it was built as a single continuous hexagonal core to the Sky Pod, with three support legs blended into the hexagon below the main level, forming a large Y-shape structure at the ground level. Attracting more than 2 million international visitors each year,  CN Tower reflects the importance of aesthetics in design.

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Electrification: Greatest engineering achievements of the 20th century

Electrification is certainly one of the most crucial achievements in the twentieth century. Due to engineering advancements, burning coal is a cleaner activity than ever before, and most of America’s electric energy comes from coal. In fact, the success of our contemporary lifestyle relies mostly on the availabiltiy of affordable electricity. Since the discovery of the electric light bulb by Thomas Edison, whic led to the first commercial power plant being set up in 1882, engineers have come a long way in developing a complex system to generate electricity to meet our needs. Without a reliable source of electric power, there would be a state of complete chaos- every human activity, from lighting your bedside lamp to running a factory requires electricity.

However, with ever increasing demand for electricity, a sudden need for people to produce electricity using renewable resources has risen. Leading engineers and scientists are now looking for ferasible ways to use energy wiselyby designing energy efficient systems. Now it is up to us to determine how we plan the use of electric power so we can save non renewable resources for future generations, at the same time maintain the pace of gloabal social and economic progress.

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Blender: Surface Modelling

When we first began to work in Blender in our Engineering Design class, I was hesitant to use this software because in comparison to Solidworks, in Blender you cannot define exact dimensions for your product; the software uses its in-bulit dimensions so you can only estimate dimensions to amke them proportionate with respect to rest of the model. However, Blender is a useful software which can be used to create 3D computer games or  short films (blender works very well for animation work), solid modelling, character modelling and so forth.

For my final Blender project, we were instructed to design a bottle. I designed the blue polycarbonate water bottles used in dispensers. The difficult part in this project was to create the handle for this water bottle, since the handle was not a separate part but had to be curved outward from the body of the model. We did not spend too much time working with this software but it was a useful project because it gave us a chance to explore the various features of Blender like the sculpting and wrapping features.

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ATT Galaxy Note LTE versus Galaxy Note( Intl.Version)

Since the Galaxy nexus, the 5.3 inches with a 1280 x 800 pixel count Galaxy Note is a massive smart phone, certainly one of its kind. Due to its overwhelming dimensions, it is difficult for most people to adapt this phone into their lifestyle. Many people will be conscious holding this ‘super-smart phone’ to their ears to receive a call, despite the impressive call quality and speakerphones.The ATT version of the Note features differ from those of the internationally released one.

The ATT Note is slightly heavier (183g) than the original Note(178g). This might not be appreciated much by users since the Note is pretty much already a huge phone.One of the different features is a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor as compared to the 1.4GHz Exynos processor in the original Note. This has increased the speed of the phone, however, the responsiveness of ATT Note is reported to be actually lower than the international version. On the downside, this drawback doesn’t come with an increase in battery life. As there is no way to disable the LTE, with LTE enabled but not connected, the battery life lasts 90 minutes less than the original Note does.

Given the not so impressive battery life and decline in performance, one would assume that consumers would not prefer to purchase the ATT Note. But ATT is currently selling the readily available Note for $300 on contract. Perhaps this is why a typical American smart phone customer will not hesitate to purchase the ATT Galaxy Note despite its obvious flaws in comparison to the original international version.

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Design Ethics

Ethics is the study of human behavior based on what actions they consider as moral or immoral. Morality determines the code of conduct in our society. Likewise, in design too, there is no single correct path to be followed to come up with a perfect design. Every design concept will have strings attached- a bundle of pros and cons specific to each design. What this implies for design engineers is that they will have to make attempts to analyze the consequences the solutions they are looking to implant in the new product will yield.

There are several questions a designer must ask himself. Is the design serving only a certain group in the community or a large cross-section of society? Is the benefit of the target group posing negative consequences for others in the society? Other issues one might want to consider are whether the product is creating a better world to live in or is it leaning towards affecting the ecosystem negatively. In addition, the means used to design or create a beneficial product may not itself be beneficial. Do the benefits of the outcome (the design concept) outweigh the consequences of the means used? Keeping in mind broader concepts like cultural limitations of use of the design is another way of designing ‘ethically’.

Undoubtedly, to design in an ethically responsible manner requires some extra effort on part of the design team while they consider several of the many questions/issues mentioned above. Design ethics is an important aspect of design selection as it allows designers to really assess their personal ethical values and the users’ values too, as reflected by their choice of product.


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How big is your environmental footprint ?

Rising energy costs, climate change and a sudden wave of increasing social conscience has transformed the way people do things. All types of designers, including design engineers, are now exploring ‘green’ design solutions to reduce the human environmental footprint. Typiclly for engineers, ‘going green’ has meant lowering use of non renewable resources, energy efficiency, water conservation and increasingly using recycled materials.

What engineers are doing to reduce their environmental impact is use SolidWork’s new feature called SolidWorks Sustainability, which shows designers the effect of every decision they make on every part of a product. The feature prompts the designer for information about their part, including materials, manufacturing process and the region where the product will eventually be used. It queries an extensive database and calculates the design’s environmental impact in four key areas: carbon emissions, energy consumed and air and water pollutants. If a design feature is changed, SolidWorks Sustainability automatically recalculates and updates the report, alongside offering a comparison (using graphs and charts) of the environmental impact of different materials used in a product.  In addition, the feature offers a ‘fine similar’ selection tool which prepares a list of alternate materials the designer can use based on the desired material properties the designer will specify, followed by a final report of Life Cycle Assessment.

SolidWorks Sustainability appears to be a useful tool for engineers to guage environmental impact of each design and make more informed choices than before. Creating better and more green products is an essential move towards a healthier planet.


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Dell Inspiron Mini 10

The Mini 10 is a perfect choice for a personal computer. I have owned a Dell Mini 10 for three years now. When I came to college, my friends joked about how I should perhaps purchase a ‘real laptop’ now. True, college work demands a regular-sized laptop to be able to work on without squinting at your screen. Mini 10 is not meant to replace the need for a regular laptop for people who are going to be doing a lot of work on their computers. In fact, it is a compact netbook that is convenient to carry around with you and is easy to handle.

This 10.1 inch screen netbook is a portable device. You can travel light and at the same time, stay connected to rest of the world via email, video chat and online social networking. It has an internal 802.11b/g WiFi connection and an optional Bluetooth® 2.1. And the Inspiron Mini 10 is designed to be weightless in comparison to regular laptops which are bulky and inconvenient to travel with. You can enjoy all the same entertainment features as in the laptop. Its keyboard is 92% the size of the traditional laptop keyboard. You can also share photos and save videos online with the extra 2 GB online storage available.

If you are looking for a suitable mobile companion, Dell Inspiron mini 10 is a suitable choice.Instead of carrying your bulky laptop to class, make your life easier with this portable netbook which is available in seven different colors.

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Technological Inequity

The surge of innovative latest technology in this era of globalization has surely transformed our experiences and sense of time and space in a positive way. However, with it we have also seen the rapid increase of the divide between the Global South and Global North.

The rapid increase of replacing technology with human force has left the unskilled laborers useless for the formal sector. As the value of skilled workers and educated people with the knowledge of how to use and develop technologies increases, laborers in poorer parts of the world lose their jobs as they are replaced by computers and other machines. Also, this divide between two very different parts of the world exists and is on the increase because the distribution of technology is unfair. Most of the technological and advancement in lifestyle seems to be concentrated in the Global North countries, and the Global South is certainly not that part of the world which is experiencing the benefits of the so-called globalization. For instance, educational resources in schools and universities are inadequate as compared to in wealthy Global north countries. As for now, the use of internet and advanced computing technology has only deepened the divide caused by technological inequity.

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