Finding extraordinary engineers for exceptional clients

Charles Parsons — A Mathematician by Trade

September 23rd, 2013

A mathematician by training and an engineer by trade, Charles Algernon Parsons earned his fame by inventing the steam turbine engine in the mid 1880s — an invention that would revolutionize ocean travel and merchant shipping, as well as naval warfare. His robust career is yet another example of the contributions of engineering to the world of human endeavor.

Charles Parsons — Childhood, Scholastic Accomplishments, and Early Career

Charles Parsons was born in 1854, the youngest of the six sons of famous English astronomer, William Parsons. A mathematical and mechanical engineering prodigy, Parsons and his brothers built their own 4-horsepower steam carriage when Charles was only 12. He parlayed that natural talent into a first class mathematics honors degree from Cambridge’s St. Jamescareer-in-engineeri College in 1877.

After serving an apprenticeship for a Newcastle-based engineering firm, Parsons joined Kitson and Company, located in Yorkshire, where he designed rocket torpedoes. In 1884, he became the Director of Electrical Equipment Development for Clarke, Chapman, and Company, a ship engine manufacturer located near Newcastle.

The Invention of the Steam Turbine Engine

While at Clarke, Chapman, and Company, Parsons developed a multi-stage turbine engine, using an innovative design the restricted the stream in each stage to derive the most kinetic energy possible. This engine allowed electricity to be generated at a much lower cost, revolutionizing shipping and ultimately other industries as well.

In 1889, he founded his own company, C.A. Parsons and Company to build these new turbo generators. Parsons’ turbine design also saw wide use in electricity generating stations. His crowning achievement was the ship, Turbina, which used three parallel-flow turbines able to reuse the steam. The ship reached speeds of over 34 knots, which was very fast for the time.

Parsons’ turbines saw wide use throughout the shipping fleets of the day, including the Titanic, and also became the industry standard for on-land electricity generation. Parsons was knighted in 1911 and died in 1931.

Charles Parsons’ career features the kind of innovation that inspires current and fledgling engineers to enter the practice. If you want to enhance your prospects in this rewarding field, talk to the experts at the Talley Group. One of the leading engineering staffing firms in the Seattle area — they can help supercharge your career.

Solar Powered Backpacks

March 14th, 2013

Getting back to nature in the 21st Century doesn’t necessarily mean losing connectivity with today’s wired society. A perfect accessory for the hiker, that’s also a fan of technology, is a solar powered backpack. This innovative piece of engineering provides the necessary juice to power a decent array of electronic devices when truly on the go.

A Military Device Gets a Commercial Application

Like many other technological innovations, the solar powered backpack had a partial genesis in the military. In 2010, the U.S. Army announced it was deploying a device called the Rucksack Enhanced Portable Power System (REPPS) in Afghanistan. The device features a 62-watt solar powered blanket that is stored inside a backpack.

While not a true solar powered backpack, REPPS earned accolades from soldiers in the field for its ability to quickly recharge batteries and other military electronics without depending on fossil fuels. The Army expects to roll out REPPS to other units after its successful Afghanistan trial.

The key point allowing REPPS to seamlessly transition into a commercial application was the success of the flexible solar panels used in the design. Solar backpacks on the market today typically contain one or two flexible monocrystalline silicon panels, capable of providing a lightweight, portable power source when combined with a battery pack.

Solar Backpacks in Use Today

In today’s market, solar backpacks typically range in cost from $75 to $300 depending on their wattage and other features. Some companies even offer portable solar powered laptop chargers for around $500. For the backpacks themselves, expect a power rating around 10 watts, with 5 hours of full sunlight needed to fully charge a smartphone.

Most units on the market feature a battery with a USB connector and special adapters for most of today’s popular portable smartphones, including the iPhone, Motorola Droid, Samsung Galaxy, as well as recent BlackBerry devices. Many backpacks also include AC and DC charging adapters to fully charge the battery before leaving the grid.

The solar powered backpack is another example of innovative engineering leading to a better enjoyment of life. The Talley Group is always on the lookout for innovative engineers. One of the leading engineering recruiting firms in the Northwest, make time to talk with them to send your career into the stratosphere.

Karl Probst Designed the Jeep in Two Days | Engineering Career Hero

March 14th, 2013

When looking at the pantheon of American vehicles, the legendary Jeep stands out for its versatile design. First seen in a reconnaissance role during World War 2, the Jeep effortlessly transitioned to the postwar commercial market as arguably the first SUV, currently serving disparate purposes from the campground to a night on the town.

The genesis of the Jeep began with a request from the United States Army in 1940 for bids to design and build a lightweight, all-terrain command and reconnaissance vehicle. They wanted a working prototype within 49 days. Pennsylvania’s American Bantam Car Company was one of only two companies to respond to the bid. However, Bantam had a singular problem — they didn’t have any engineers on staff!

Enter Karl Probst, Freelance Engineer

Karl Probst began his life in 1883 in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. He earned his engineering degree at Ohio State University in 1906. At the time of the U.S. Army’s request, he lived in Detroit, serving as a freelance engineer. Those days due to the limitations in technology, one had to choose to freelance in the field they specialised. Unlike now, how you can look up the 25 best online jobs that can help you make good money right from the comfort of your living space.

Bantam reached out to Probst, but he initially rebuffed their approach. After the Army made a special plea to Probst, he agreed to take on the task for Bantam, beginning work on the design on July 17, 1940. After only two days of feverish work, Probst emerged with complete plans for the prototype, and on the next day he provided manufacturing cost estimates. Bantam delivered their bid, with blueprints, to the Army on July 22nd.

Bantam’s first prototype, the Bantam Reconnaissance Car (BRC), was built by hand and delivered to the Army for testing on September 21st, barely meeting the 49 day deadline. The vehicle passed all tests with flying colors.

The Jeep Goes into Battle

Concerned about Bantam’s financial situation and their ability to mass-manufacture the BRC, the Army provided the new plans to two other companies, Ford and Willys-Overland. All three companies initially produced 1500 vehicles, with Willys winning the final mass production contract.

Needless to say, what was originally the BRC ushered in a revolution in military transportation, and eventually civilian transportation as well. Willys registered the Jeep trademark after the war, and many of the current line of vehicles are made in Toledo, Ohio, like the original. This revolution all came from two days of extraordinary engineering by one Karl Probst.

As one of leading engineering staffing companies in the United States, The Talley Group is always looking for the next Karl Probst. Let them help you make a difference today.

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