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Mechanical Engineering. Past, Present and Future. What is Mechanical Engineering?. Mechanical engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with forces and motion. It includes designing, analyzing, developing, and maintaining mechanical systems.

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Mechanical engineering l.jpg

Mechanical Engineering

Past, Present and Future

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What is Mechanical Engineering?

Mechanical engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with forces and motion. It includes designing, analyzing, developing, and maintaining mechanical systems.

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Early mechanical engineering was largely trial and error.

Some Early uses of Mechanical Engineering

  • Pumping water

  • Draining and ventilating mines

  • Building structures

  • Designing scientific instruments (telescope, microscope, etc.)

  • Warfare

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Development of the Steam Engine

  • The development of the steam engine provided power to fuel the Industrial Revolution

  • This in turn led to the development of new machines to use this power source

  • As a result of this, a new branch of engineering was formed

  • It received formal recognition in 1847 when the Institute of Mechanical Engineers was founded in England

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Mechanical Engineering in the US

  • The American Society of Mechanical Engineers was formed in 1880

  • It was the third branch of engineering to form a professional organization in the US

  • In 1880 there were 85 engineering colleges in the US

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Present Day Mechanical Engineering

  • Just as in the early days, there are many uses of mechanical engineering today.

  • Two of the topics:

    • Vehicles

    • Sports Equipment

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Hybrid Electric and Fuel Cell Vehicles

  • HEVs

    • Parallel design

    • Series design

    • Both

  • FCVs

    • Chemical reaction

      • Hydrogen and Oxygen

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Sports Equipment

  • Ball Aerodynamics

  • Surfaces

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Ball Aerodynamics

  • What makes a ball fly the way it does?

  • How to improve the flight of a ball?

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  • Impact

  • Traction

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The Vision of the Future

  • Computers

  • Miniturization

  • Three O’s

  • Aviation/Travel

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  • More efficient in timely production

  • Replace old mechanical parts with electronic components. (ex. gears, pistons, levers, etc.)

  • Memory storage

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  • Take up less space

  • More moblie

    (Cell phones, laptops, PDA’s, etc.)

  • More functionality

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Three O’s




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  • One nanometer (abbreviated nm) is one billionth, or 10-9 of a meter

  • Focused on controlling and exploiting the structure of matter on a scale below 100 nanometers.

  • Two main approaches are used:

    • ”Bottom-up"

    • ”Top-down"

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  • Rapidly transforms scientific discoveries into useful technological and business applications

  • Robots perform tasks that are dangerous, unpleasant, or repetitive.

  • Many companies employ assembly lines of robots, and some factories are so roboticized that they can run themselves

  • Outside the factory, robots have been employed in bomb disposal, space exploration, and many other fields. Robots are also sold residentially

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  • The manipulation of organisms to do practical things and to provide useful products.

  • Some uses of biotechnology:

    • The use of organisms for the manufacture of organic products like milk and beer.

    • To recycle

    • Treat waste

    • Clean up sites contaminated by industrial activities (bioremediation)

    • Produce biological weapons

  • Bionics is a bridge between natural construction principles and mechanical engineering.

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Aviation/ Travel

  • Moving people quickly and efficiently

  • Mimimize congestion

  • More environmentally friendly

  • Some scientist speculate the thought of traveling like the “jetsons” -teleportation

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Thermal Technology

Past, Present, and Future

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  • Milestones in Thermodynamics:

    • 1592 Galileo constructed the first thermometer

    • 1662 Boyle’s Law P x V = constant

    • 1701 Newton’s Law of Cooling

    • 1787 Charles’ Law V/T=constant

    • 1824 Carnot formulated second law of thermodynamics

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  • 1840’s Joule conducted experiments that led to the first law of thermodynamics

  • 1848 Kelvin developed the concept of an absolute temperature scale

  • Credited with first using the term Thermodynamics

  • 1850 Clausius formally stated first two laws of thermodynamics and defined entropy

  • 1859 Rankine wrote first textbook on engineering thermodynamics

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Steam Engines law of thermodynamics

  • The use of steam to produce power began in the late 17th century

  • These engines were some of the first heat engines

  • James Watt developed a steam piston engine in 1775 that was a significant improvement over earlier designs.

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Stirling Engine law of thermodynamics

  • Patent issued in 1816

  • Uses temperature difference to produce mechanical work.

  • Has the same theoretical efficiency as the Carnot heat engine for the same input and output temperatures

  • Was more efficient than the steam engine

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Other Engines law of thermodynamics

  • Otto

    • 1876

    • Works on a

      four stroke cycle

  • Diesel

    • 1897

    • Based on ideal thermodynamic principals

    • In theory if the combustion was gradual, it would take place at constant temperature.

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Present law of thermodynamics

  • Found in most households across the globe

    • Toaster

    • Refrigerator

    • Washer

    • Dryer

    • Hot water heater

    • Hair Dryer

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Use in Business law of thermodynamics

  • Theme Parks

    • Used for cooling computers

    • Big parks have their own power plants

  • Smaller Companies

    • Dryers

    • Dish Washers

    • Thermal Printers

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Solar Energy law of thermodynamics

  • Households

    • Panels on outside

    • Used to heat water

    • Create heat

  • Rural Areas

    • Cookers

    • Cooling/Heating homes

    • Drying crops

  • Power Stations

    • Mostly in deserts

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Thermal Technology for Computers law of thermodynamics

  • Computers heat up!

  • Cooling systems range from:

    • Simple metal heat dissipaters

    • Fans

    • Water cooling systems

    • A/C units

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War law of thermodynamics

  • Jet engines

    • Turbojet engines

      • Developed in the 1930’s

    • Turbofan engines

      • More efficient

      • Quieter

      • Used more by commercial airlines

  • Rockets

    • Heat seeking rockets

    • Computer controlled

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Future of Thermal Technology law of thermodynamics

  • Engines

    • People have to get around

    • Fuel is becoming expensive

    • Progress is slow

  • Computers

    • Almost everyone has one

    • Not going away

    • Power creates heat