Tag Archives: military

Editors note: I (Chris) gave up my usual weekend slot to Seb because he had an intriguing article about a touchy and recurring subject within the field of engineering. This post will discuss working in the defense industry (possibly on deadly weapons), a topic which we know can set off some emotions. We’d love to hear your opinion in the comments section, but we won’t hesitate to squash any hateful or unduly harsh words. Engineer Blogs has maintained civil discourse and we hope to continue doing so. Enjoy Seb’s article! One think leads to another, as they say. This particular though journey started whilst I was drafting my post about the SULSA 3D printed aircraft. The process of writing about the subject gave me pause. I had to stop staring at the keyboard as I did my usual hunt-and-peck routine; I gazed thoughtfully out the window at the forest hills around Heidelberg. A memory…

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This week I want to look at a blog that was written by someone else. Reason being that I think they have done a better job and are better positioned to talk about my topic area this week. That of Colonel John D. Sims. Despite being in the US Army and having little to do with engineering Colonel Sims is someone that has experienced a challenging career. I’m not talking about being on the front line or being a great solider. No, I’m talking about how in difficult situation he has learned to become himself and though understanding his role as a commander has better served not only his country and the army but more importantly the soldier under him and his family. While I’m not saying that our jobs as engineers are anything like being part of the armed forces, I think what Colonel Sims has to say strikes…

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Images of an airship might evoke some long past 1920s phenomenon deemed too dangerous or too impractical and brushed aside for different flight technologies. But no technology should ever be considered down and out. The distinctive spire on the Empire State Building, originally intended as a mooring mast for dirigibles, is now copied on many other skyscrapers as a matter of course and style. It was only a year and a half ago that I talked about an Army request for proposals for an airship drone. Lockheed Martin just flew their HALE-D (that’s high altitude long endurance) a little earlier this week on July 27th, 2011. It only flew to 32,000 ft before coming down in Pennsylvania unexpectedly but should be capable of achieving 60,000 ft altitude. I talked about Boeing’s Phantom Eye UAV which supposedly can hang out at 65,000 ft. Neither aircraft is making any major promises on…

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Do you have any moral issues about your work? I have, off and on. I consider myself a pacifist, and yet I’ve found myself working through the years for projects that were funded by the Department of Defense. About a decade ago, I would’ve said it would never happened…but things change. The first project didn’t strike me as anything to be concerned about: we were studying magnetic fields originating in the ionosphere. While the defense wing we were working with needed this information, it was fundamental science that could be used for a lot of things. Lately, a lot of the work I’ve done has involved sensors or communication devices. While I initially worried that working on these items was hypocritical, I have realized that it isn’t. Much of what we work on is also being developed for commercial markets. Maybe working on RFID, for example, enables item tracking for the military, but…

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The Military’s been busy using technology to combat terrorism. No they’re not building a new super bomb or tank it’s actually a biomedical device straight from consumer applications. It looks like a digital camera or like a Star Trek medical tricorder. It’s the HIIDE or Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment. US and NATO forces are scanning irises and getting fingerprints from hundreds of thousands of Afghans. It started as a program to collect information on prisoners but progressed to where ordinary people were getting scanned in. It’s an attempt at limiting movement of insurgents and getting positive ID on a population where that’s proved illusive thus far. It’s hard to see how anything like this would fly in the states. It does come across as an incredible invasion of privacy. But then again, asking a US citizen for a government issued ID without any reason has become perfectly legal in…

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I was at an open house event for a company in my industry not so long ago and one of the engineers was talking about their difficulty in embracing the diesel engine platform. “I’m not sure why,” they said, “but the military seems to be really pushing us to have diesels.” There’s plenty of good reasons, but let’s back up a bit and refresh. If you’re talking internal combustion engines there are two major alternatives: spark ignition and compression ignition. Spark ignition is your basic petroleum powered family car. The thermodynamic cycle is actually completely different for a diesel engine. Spark ignition is what it sounds like;  a spark creates a flame in the combustion chamber directly burning your fuel. In diesel, or compression ignition, a small amount of fuel is injected which begins to vaporize forming a flammable mixture that will ignite and burn on its own. The heat…

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