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Bechtolsheim of Sun Microsystems Speaks on Engineering Innovation

November 26th, 2012

Andy Bechtolsheim is one of the greatest engineering alumni to ever attend Stanford University. The school recently inducted him into its second class of “Engineering Heroes,” a distinct group of 16 of Stanford’s School of Engineering’s finest.

Bechtolsheim created the SUN workstation and co-founded SUN Microsystems. He is also one of the original investors in Google. To say he has strong beliefs in the power of engineering innovation would be an understatement. He truly believes in the power of technology to enhance lives and create greater engineering marvels.

“What one can learn from the Apples of the world, the Googles of the world, the Amazons and the Facebooks, is that innovation is the essence of high technology and business,” Bechtolsheim said. “Over the years, the content changes but the underlying processes of how to focus on innovation, how to do the right things, don’t really change.”

In the early 1980s Bechtolsheim studied and created as an engineering graduate student at Stanford. He invented the workstation, a more affordable computer for engineers that mirrored the PC for an average American. It allowed engineers and companies to expand and innovate as they never had before, bypassing the hundreds of thousands of dollars they were spending on expensive IBM, DEC, and Wang mini-computers and mainframes that were the only option at that time.

The SUN (Stanford University Network) workstation was a 32-bit machine that allowed companies to run the same kind of programs they would on a gigantic computer on a smaller machine. It cost around $10,000 compared to hundreds of thousands. Because of this invention, Bechtolsheim was able to split his time between Stanford and XEROX PARC. Bechtolsheim and Stanford built and sold 15 of the workstations together before stepping aside. This was when Sun (a nod to Stanford) Microsystems was born.

Bechtolsheim maintained a strong connection with Stanford, the place that allowed him to birth his ideas and teach him the fundamentals he needed to succeed.

“I wouldn’t have done what I’ve done in my life, if I hadn’t been here,” he said. “Little did I know that I would come exactly to the right place where you couldn’t just learn about how to do this but you could actually then go off and start a company. I was very fortunate.”

Because of his connection to Stanford, Bechtolsheim was one of the first to see, experience and invest in what would be known as Google today. In 1998 professor David Cheriton invited Bechtolsheim over to see what his two students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, had created. Bechtolsheim was immediately won over by the inner workings of Google search, remembering his experience in scientific research and publishing.

Page and Brin shared their revenue model of sponsored links and pay per click advertisements and Bechtolsheim was sold. He went out to his car and returned with a check for $100,000, made out to Google, Inc.

Bechtolsheim is a true engineering hero because not only did he create successful inventions, he recognized great innovations.

Contact The Talley Group finds the best positions for every engineering superhero out there. Call us today.

If you know someone that is looking to be an engineering hero, please refer an engineer today!

Blast from the Past Engineering Marvel: The Hoover Dam

November 15th, 2012

Design, safety and economics were the top three priorities when building the Hoover Dam Bypass. It is one of the great structural engineering marvels of the world, and rightfully so, after taking nearly a decade to complete. The project stretched across two states, Arizona and Nevada, and included a 1,900’ crossing of the Colorado River.

Six contracting agencies were brought in to design and construct the bypass. The Central Federal Lands Highway Division (CFLHD) of the Federal Highway Administration awarded the contract to engineering firm HDR for design and management services. HDR led the way for subcontractors and engineering partners.

The key piece of this project is the Mike O’Callaghan/Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, currently designated as the highest and longest arched concrete bridge in the Western Hemisphere, rising 890’ above the river.

The significance in the Hoover Dam Bypass is that its bridge is the first steel/concrete arch bridge constructed in the United States. The arch was created to compliment the landmark without ruining the beautiful tourist views of the Hoover Dam. The steel substructure allows for high intensity loads on the bypass. The two concrete arches are connected with steel struts, which provide a greater lateral strength in case of extreme winds or an earthquake. The bridge is also composed of trapezoidal steel box girders, integrated with post-tensioned concrete caps. These allow the roadway to serve as a lateral brace for the concrete columns, which are the highest in the world.

And of course, in the end, the final product looks beautiful, but the teams had to put up with some extreme challenges from Mother Nature. Rock had to be cut almost 100’ high, winds blew up to 70 miles per hour, and at times the temperature reached over 120 degrees.

One of the greatest outcomes of the project was the development of team building and partnerships between the engineers. Many had come from different backgrounds and skill levels, but all worked under the HDR umbrella to create the best possible product. The groups worked together to also grade and pave roadways, construct six other bridges, allow for wildlife crossings, drainage, lighting, utilities, traffic management systems, pedestrian accommodations, interpretive exhibits, high-voltage transmission line relocations, geotechnical engineering, surveying and mapping, and bypass corridor architectural design.

Contact The Talley Group for the top positions in civil engineering and work on life-impacting projects.

Engineering News | Small Wind Turbines in Your Backyard

November 9th, 2012

When one thinks of the traditional wind turbines for wind energy production, the image includes a towering massive structure, taller than the downtown skyscrapers. It has been essential to put these gigantic turbines in areas with much open space, in order to maximize the output in relation to the set up costs.

Up until now, vast stretches of rural farmland or urban wastelands have housed windmills, with sometimes hundreds of them placed creating turbine farms. The owners of these areas receive great incentives and rebates from the government for their efforts.

Now, several companies have created smaller turbines that could possibly even fit in our backyards. These turbines could work to power homes, farms and smaller businesses. The Small Wind Certification Council (SWCC) has approved two small wind turbines with more approvals coming.

The national certification process will generate sales of more of these turbines because now an everyday homeowner will be able to receive the same rebates and financial incentives as those wind turbine farmers. And whereas an older style large windmill cost over $60,000 to install, the investment in a smaller turbine will be more accessible to many.

In order to get certified the SWCC has to review the engineering design. The council looks at the mechanical engineering of the aerodynamics of the blades, and tests them in extreme conditions. These structures need to hold up after many years of pounding winds and weather, which can lead to corrosion.

The first two models to be certified are the Bergey Windpower Excel 10 and the Southwest Windpower Skystream 3.7. The Bergey has been around since the 1980s, and has endured much testing, so it was not difficult to provide certification for this wind turbine.

In order to test the turbines, much attention needs to be paid to the mechanical engineering simulations. The tests being done for the larger blades can also benefit the smaller turbine creators. The National Science Foundation has funded research including a virtual test environment where turbines can be tested through real, extreme weather condition simulations. These are looked at through a high-performance supercomputer platform.

This research will be essential in determining the design challenges for the next generation of these impactful turbines.

Contact The Talley Group for the latest positions in mechanical engineering and wind turbine technologies.

Are Engineering Certifications Worth It?

November 8th, 2012

The engineering industry is open with many possible opportunities, but it is still a highly competitive field. If you are looking to change positions or move up in your own organization, engineering certifications can help.

Certifications can take time, and off-the-clock studying and work, but the general consensus from human resource professionals is that the effort taken to acquire an advanced certification is worth it.

Engineering certificates are a way to diversify yourself from the crowd, as well as to validate your professional skill. Certifications measure you higher in the engineering field against colleagues that may not have them.

The goal of a certification is to define your expertise and acknowledge your individual abilities in your field. They cannot replace a degree or professional license, but add value to your current resume and level of expertise. Some of the best reasons for attaining a professional certification include:

  • Increased marketability
  • Showcase of knowledge
  • Proof of credibility
  • Mark of respect

In a survey given by, 100% of participants preferred engineering certifications when hiring for new positions and for internal promotions. These certifications are guarantees that an employee has great knowledge in their preferred sector, and sets a high standard for the measurement of employee skill.

Engineering certifications can cover an array of topics including thermal system design, computer-aided manufacturing and applied mechanics. Common certificate programs include:

  • Advanced material mechanics
  • Convection heat
  • Stress analysis
  • Integrated manufacturing systems
  • Advanced control systems
  • Finite element analysis

If you are looking for an organization to go to that provides these certifications, there are many that offer product and personnel certifications. Product certification assures that an applicable American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) standard is fulfilled. Personnel certifications provide a uniform standard for evaluating professional knowledge. Many can be attained through the ASME. The ASME has certified more than 6,000 manufacturers in 7 countries and serves as the standard for the industry.

Contact The Talley Group for the best positions in the engineering industry and to be represented as a top candidate.

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