Lonesome Tree in Sandhills

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tribute to Engineering Ingenuity

This Memorial Day, let's not forget the ASTRONAUTS who paid the ultimate price for exploring space and the universe that benefits the rest of us.  We take for granted so much that results from aerospace engineering.  Make this weekend a Tribute to Aerospace Engineers.

Did anyone else watch NASA's repair of the Hubble Space Telescope LIVE on NASA-TV? It is truly a tribute to engineering ingenuity!  Space shuttles no longer get attention as engineering feats, but the Atlantis shuttle was different.  It had what amounted to a giant screw driver robot arm tucked inside its bay area along with specially designed tools for repairing the Hubble Telescope.  Astronauts with feet locked on the tip of that giant screw driver were lifted up and out to work on replacing small items on the giant telescope.  Watching them work in streaming REAL TIME was AWESOME!  The tools were AMAZING!  No need to wait for the replay at IMEX theaters, check it out here

Our beautiful earth could be seen beyond to provide perspective.  Since Friday, the Atlantis and Houston have been dealing with re-entry weather problems at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  I'm again glued to my laptop watching & listening to the engineers at the controls in Houston & shuttle pilot, Chris Ferguson, bring the Atlantis safely to earth.  They have finally been given clearance for the de-orbit burn and to land at Edwards Airbase in the desert of California - at 9:00 a.m. Sunday.  BIG CHEERS to all aboard for a safe landing!!

As for the cost of NASA's space shuttles adding to our national debt - remember that post-WWII GI bill?  It helped the US become a Nation of Engineers, many were aerospace engineers.  It created millions of well-paying jobs that resulted in raising the standard of living for the maximum number of US citizens.  As a result of investing these costs of higher education in engineering, our nation paid off the tremendous burden of WWII debt - ours and that of Europe and SE Asia - all while sending Americans to the moon.  So, have some faith, folks - we will do it again!

Note the surge of engineering ingenuity is focused on designing batteries for electric automobiles.  Dr. Ann Marie Sastry, top expert on lithium-ion vehicle battery technology, is Prof. of Mechanical, Biomedical and Materials Science and Engineering, and Director of Energy Systems Engineering Program at U. of Michigan.  Dr. Sastry decided the world needed a new type of battery - not another research paper.  Last November, Dr. Sastry founded a new company, Sakti3, raised $15 million in venture capital and engaged an engineering firm with a battery systems development facility in Michigan.  Dr. Sastry is now competing aggressively for matching ARRA funds from the Dept. of Energy. 

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