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Reverse Engineering, Ethics, Sports, Safety, and other issues in Design. Since this is the week of World Series, we will also discuss Baseball, ethics related to Baseball, in addition to sports and engineering. Reverse Engineering Dissecting a product Understanding how it functions

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reverse engineering ethics sports safety and other issues in design

Reverse Engineering, Ethics, Sports, Safety, and other issues in Design

Since this is the week of World Series, we will also discuss Baseball, ethics related to Baseball, in addition to sports and engineering

Reverse Engineering
  • Dissecting a product
  • Understanding how it functions
  • Learn basic principles
  • Designing/building a new product
  • Communicating (oral/written)
issues involved
Issues involved
  • Cost effective
  • Ergonomical
  • Aesthetically pleasing/Visually appealing

Problem with GM and Ford even though quality is good

  • Safe (toys, automotive crash,nuclear power plants subjected to earthquake or missiles)
  • Environment friendly (quiet, use recyclable materials, less consumption of energy, Biodegradable)
  • Testing & Warranty issues (7 year/100k miles)

Recent GM Promotions

  • Cater to an existing market or create new market
  • Ethical issues
Last lecture involved Electro-magnetic shock design to show an interesting project involving energy recovery. Also various vibration and acoustic issues were addressed.

Now let us consider some common household items, dissect them and then try to design a similar product.

study a familiar product
Study a familiar product
  • Vacuum cleaner (or power drill or lawn mower)

Following steps are involved to study the product:

  • Disassembling the product
  • Identifying each component
  • Understanding their purpose
  • Obtaining information about each component
working in a team
Working in a Team

By now, you are working in a team (smooth or rough?)

Working properly in a team is essential to the success of the project

Next few slides are presented to help functioning properly in a team

“If you can’t operate as a team player, no matter how valuable you’ve been, you really do not belong at GE”

John Welch

past CEO, GE


potential problems

Potential Problems

Since this may be the first course in your engineering curriculum, be aware of the potential problems of working a group and try to avoid them

reverse engineering
Reverse Engineering
  • Reverse Engineering is a very common practice

in industry to understand the product of competitors

  • Reverse engineering may also be used for other

reasons such as reverse engineering of legacy

parts for an Army project (Mechanical

Engineering Design, pp 12-15, 2004)

back to dissection

Back to Dissection

Now that you have some guidelines for working in a group successfully, proceed with dissection of a vacuum cleaner

initial observation
Initial Observation
  • Let us explore how a vacuum cleaner works
  • First identify the vacuum cleaner: type, manufacturer, model#, and performance specifications
  • Read the instruction manual
  • Plug the vacuum cleaner and run it
  • Listen to the sound
  • Feel how it runs
  • Record your observations
  • Wear safety glasses
  • Unplug the vacuum cleaner
  • Disassemble it as far as possible
  • Put all parts in a bin (with label of your group)
  • Note each part and their purpose (e.g. belt and pulley mechanism, types of bearings/bushings, motor, etc.)
  • Are there any other alternatives of these components?
  • Now reassemble your vacuum cleaner
  • Suggest any design changes to make reassemble easier
  • Once all parts are assembled, plug it in and run it (make sure you have your safety glasses)
  • If it does not sound or feel like before or smoke comes out, unplug immediately and run (try to fix the problem later !)
big picture
Big Picture
  • Understand how different issues are addressed
  • Conversion of energy (120V power supply to motor providing torque
  • Conversion of motion (Belt and pulley system)
  • Safety issues (Child proof)
  • Environmental issues (quiet but not too quiet, hepa filter)
  • Ergonomic (Carry up the stair, notice the cg location at the stair grip)
  • Material choice (Plastic cover, metal rod for the roller axle)
  • Cost ($50 to $800!)
  • Market (household, commercial)
some equations
Some Equations
  • Even a small or toy vacuum cleaner operating principle involves some equations
  • Conversion of electrical power (watts = volt * ampere) to mechanical power
  • Mechanical power = force * velocity
  • Power imparted to impeller = torque * angular velocity
  • In case of pump (vacuum cleaner)

required power = mass flow rate * change in pressure

Now change of duct size and many other factors would

govern the required pressure increase by the impeller.


I want to conclude this part of the lecture with a note that just designing and manufacturing a part or a component is not enough. Ultimately you have to interact with other people whether it is personnel within your own company or outside your company. You may work for a company or agency which either sells a product or buys a product You need to be aware of a very important issue – ETHICS(Illinois law requires every state employee to take this training)

NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers

PreambleEngineering is an important and learned profession. As members of this profession, engineers are expected to exhibit the highest standards of honesty and integrity. Engineering has a direct and vital impact on the quality of life for all people. Accordingly, the services provided by engineers require honesty, impartiality, fairness, and equity, and must be dedicated to the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare. Engineers must perform under a standard of professional behavior that requires adherence to the highest principles of ethical conduct.

Fundamental Canons

Engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional duties, shall:

1. Hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public.

2. Perform services only in areas of their competence.

3. Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.

4. Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees.

5. Avoid deceptive acts.

6. Conduct themselves honorably, responsibly, ethically, and lawfully so as to enhance the honor, reputation, and usefulness of the profession.

current issues in safety
Current Issues in Safety
  • Issue of Toy safety in 2007 (lead paint, small magnets)
  • Melamine
  • Baby Cribs
  • Nozzle in tire and other automotive product recall
case studies on ethics
Case Studies on Ethics
  • Personal Value Conflict (helmet design) - Is possible abuse an issue?
  • Corporate Conflict (1987 Chrysler odometer case, selling of previously tested cars as new) – Is good intention enough?
  • Boeing defense contract - Hiring a DOD person (resignation of top executives, cancellation of contract, possible loss of jobs if contract goes overseas) - current status.

Revolving door law in Illinois

  • Pressure from own supervisor (compromise results)
  • Conflict of interest (relatives, friends)
  • Gifts from suppliers
case studies in safety liability
Case Studies in Safety/Liability
  • Motorcycle gas tank explosion (Why driver was intoxicated or not was not an issue)
  • Lawn Mower (How to make it safer)
  • DC10 accident in 1989 (Why the redundant control line failed)
  • Helium tank (Not just who is at fault - Possible engineering suggestions
  • Vat Accident
ethics vibrations sports

Vibration studies is a big part in Sports e.g. golf, tennis, baseball etc (e.g. new golf clubs are designed to hit the ball further).

Unlike golf, major league baseball doe not permit changing the traditional wooden bat. However, that does not stop players from trying illegally changing the bats say by corking.

modes of vibrations of baseball bat
Modes of Vibrations of Baseball bat

Bending Modes and sweet spot for wooden bats

  • First Bending Mode
  • Second Bending Mode

Hoop Modes are important

for hollow aluminum or composite

bats because of the trampoline effect

Research shows crime does not pay

Corked bats do not change the distance traveled by the ball

Momentum of bat hitting the ball is about the same (more velocity but less mass)

Let us consider vibration of aluminum and wooden

baseball bats

Baseball and Ethics

Crime does not pay

Other Sports

How about other sports? – Golf, Tennis, Football, Yacht, etc)

Golf - Graphite club vs. Steel club

  • MEEP (The manufacturing engineering education partnership), J. Lamancusa et. al, PSU, 2004.
  • Society of Professional Engineers
  • State of Illinois Ethics Examination
  • D. Russell, Kettering University
  • Office of Associate Dean, CEET