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Trends in Nanotech

July 23rd, 2013

The emerging science of nanotechnology plays an important part in how engineering continues to change the world in which we live. These recent tends in nanotech are areas any practicing or fledgling engineer needs to pay attention to over the next few years. Expect nanotechnology to become a vital aspect in everyone’s daily life by the end of this decade.

Stronger Materials and Composites

Carbon nanotube-based technology allows the construction of stronger materials used in a variety of vehicles, including cars and bicycles, as well as in sporting equipment. Expect nanotechnology to improve your tennis racquet or golf clubs, in addition to the vehicle you use to get to the country club!

Improving Scalability of Nanotech Production

One thing holding back the growth in nanotechnology is the difficulty producing materials and products with nanotech at a reasonable cost. Advancements in the manufacturing process are expected to improve the scalability of nanotech production and therefore lower its overall price. If this process continues to drag out, the adaptation of nanotechnology will remain relatively slow.

Commercialization of Carbon Nanotube Technology

The continued commercialization of carbon nanotube technology makes it more likely that its manufacturing scale issues will get solved. “Advances will make the use of carbon nanotube materials even more compelling for mechanical engineers,” says David J. Arthur, CEO, SouthWest NanoTechnologies, a producer of carbon nanotubes. In addition to the advancements in vehicle and sporting goods technology, nanotubes will play a vital role in the areas of flat-screen displays and personal armor.

Nanotech Improving Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

Advancements in nanotechnology are playing a role in the development of energy efficient products that focus on improved sustainability. The previously mentioned vehicle technology innovations also are expected to lead to better fuel efficiency in addition to other enhancements, like more cost-effective construction.

Nanomedicine to Enhance the Quality of Life

The world of biomedicine is reaping the benefits of nanotechnology, for example the development of a therapy combining lasers and gold nanoshells to destroy cancer cells. Other innovations include nanosensors that improve the efficacy of hospital diagnostic equipment.

If you are inspired by the growing role played by nanotechnology in the practice of engineering, talk to the people at The Talley Group. Since they are one of the leading engineering staffing companies in the Seattle area, they can help steer your career towards working in the world of nanotech.

Marconi, Morse, Edison, Kurzweil, and Ford. Wait, Kurzweil?

January 14th, 2013

Ever wonder who invented Siri, the modern-day equivalent of Hal from 2001: A Space Oddessy? It’s a program that feels so lifelike on your iPhone–that it can answer almost anything on the planet. What would you call this person? A modern-day Thomas Edison? Possibly.

Inc. Magazine called Ray Kurzweil the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison.” Kurzweil not only invented the artificial intelligence technology and voice recognition that make Siri work, but also works as an entrepreneur, spotting the weaknesses in our world that could be improved by innovation.

Like his predecessors, Kruzweil approaches his work in a nonconventional way. As an entrepreneur, he believes in small business over big–and a do-whatever-it-takes model. He also believes in innovation as problem solving, and comes up with most solutions in his dreams. You could say he even works while he sleeps.

Kruzweil recently spoke with Upstart Business Journal, saying that he has been approached by and could run a large company, but prefers being on the small, invention side.

Kurzweil Music is now a division of Hyundai, the speech recognition is now a part of Nuance, Kurzweil Education Systems is part of a major educational organization, and in each case the company has not dissipated into the woodwork, which is often what happens. The technology has stayed distinct and the groups have stayed there. At Kurzweil Music it’s the same eight engineers that have been there 20 years—actually 30 years, since 1982.”

Kurzweil is plenty pleased to keep coming up with new technology that other people can use and enjoy. He likes to leave the management to those who have real management skills. He wants to be known for creating, not managing.

And Kurzweil comes up with most of these great ideas by working in his sleep. Kurzweil enjoys looking at industry and cultural trends, and trying to predict what the next big invention or solution needs to be.

The last thing he does before going to sleep is assigning himself a problem to solve. Then his head hits the pillow–working on the night shift. He believes the mind is the most creative when you sleep, as relaxation takes over.

“Censors in your mind are relaxed when you’re dreaming. That’s why you’ll dream about things that are culturally or socially taboo,” he said.

Kurzweil will actually work through engineering problems in his dreams, and wake up when he get to a point of unrest. He awakes and writes his thoughts down. The next day he gets up, sorts out his thoughts and writes out a patent application.

Simple enough, right?

Maybe for an aspiring inventor, entrepreneur, or the next “heir” to Edison.

The Talley Group can help you find the most inspiring engineering positions. Call us today! If you know an aspiring engineer, refer an engineer today!

Engineering News | Challenges of Nano Air Vehicles

December 17th, 2012

In Feb. 2011, AeroVironment released its “nano-hummingbird” prototype. The miniature drone flew with a controlled precision hovering motion, much like the two-wings of a hummingbird.

The hummingbird motion was not the greatest achievement of the drone. It went beyond that. The Nano allowed for the aircraft to carry its own renewable energy source, created through the continued propulsion of the bird-like wings and structure.

The prototype was so successful that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contracted AeroVironment to create a drone aircraft for the Nano Air Vehicle program (NAV). According to DARPA, NAV’s are “airborne vehicles no larger than 7.5 cm in length, width, or height, capable of performing a useful military mission at an affordable cost, and gross takeoff weight (GTOW) of less than or equal to 10 grams.”

AeroVironment’s current prototype measures 16 cm and weighs 19 g. It can fly all direction, forward and backward while rotating clockwise and counter-clockwise.

The challenge to build a smaller, better, faster, more efficient drone was born.

Most NAVs are used by the military for defense purposes. Video cameras and sensors can be attached for surveillance, targeting, artillery spotting, mine detection, damage assessment and jamming enemy communications. AeroVironment not only has to make the drone work on a smaller scale, but also continue research on propulsion and energy storage, better aerodynamics, communications systems and manufacturing techniques for greater military use.


  • NAV propulsion and energy storage systems require a highly efficient power source to be able to fly for long periods of time. Creating a drone powerful enough, yet light enough to meet the requirements is a serious engineering design issue.
  • The size of the NAV makes for aerodynamic challenges. The NAV looks to copy the flight aerodynamics of a bird or insect, which is greatly different from a typical aircraft.
  • In order to integrate navigation, guidance and control sensors a single chip must be created on a nanoscale to meet the restrictive weight requirements of the NAV design. If NAVs are traveling in groups, that also brings about a sensory communication issue.
  • Manufacturing these delicate and complex structures requires not only high tech engineering and design, but applicable manufacturing technology as well.

Contact The Talley Group for the most forward-thinking and challenging positions in engineering.

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