Archives for Our Industry

Falcon Heavy and Starman

Falcon Heavy and Starman

This video is a glimpse of our future as a civilisation. Elon Musk and his brilliant team at SpaceX are visionaries and we cannot wait to see where they will take us next!

When Falcon Heavy lifted off, it became the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. With the ability to lift into orbit nearly 64 metric tons (141,000 lb)—a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel–Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost.

Following liftoff, the two side boosters separated from the center core and returned to landing site for future reuse.

Falcon Heavy put a Tesla Roadster and its passenger, Starman, into orbit around the sun. At max velocity Starman and the Roadster will travel 11 km/s (7mi/s) and travel 400 million km (250 million mi) from Earth.

Falcon Heavy is the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. With the ability to lift into orbit nearly 64 metric tons (141,000 lb)—a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel–Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost. Falcon Heavy draws upon the proven heritage and reliability of Falcon 9.

Its first stage is composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit. Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars.

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10 most powerful female engineers of today

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’d like to highlight ten of the most powerful female engineers of the modern world.

Microsoft’s Peggy Johnson

Peggy Johnson currently serves as Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Business Development. Before joining Microsoft, she held the position of Executive Vice President and President of Global Market Development at Qualcomm. Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from San Diego State University


Google’s Diane Greene

Diane Greene is leading a new team in Google that combines all of the company’s cloud businesses. Google’s goal is make its cloud business bigger than its ad business by 2020. Greene holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Vermont.


Apple’s Tara Bunch

Tara Bunch is vice president of AppleCare, Apple’s technical-service and support organization. Bunch joined Apple in 2012 after a 20-year career at Hewlett-Packard, where she was a senior vice president of global customer service and support operations. Bunch graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.


Bechtel’s Barbara Rusinko

Barbara Rusinko is president of Bechtel Nuclear, Security & Environmental, Inc. (NS&E).  Barbara is a registered professional engineer with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of South Carolina, and a master’s degree in engineering from the University of Alabama – Huntsville. She serves on the corporate partnership council of the Society of Women Engineers.

Pilot’s Jessica McKellar

Jessica McKellar is founder and CTO at Pilot, a bookkeeping service. Prior to founding Pilot, Jessica was director of engineering at Dropbox and a major figure in the world of Python, a popular web-development programming language. McKellar attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and studied computer science and chemistry.

Ford’s Reates Curry


Reates Curry has been at Ford Motor Company since 1995 working with the Driving Simulator Team. Her expertise is in the area of human-machine/computer interaction with an emphasis on developing metrics for safe and efficient in-vehicle technology design and testing of human-machine interfaces (HMIs). Curry has a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia, a Master’s in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University where she did her research in the area of Machine Vision.


Amazon’s Sharon Chiarella

Sharon Chiarella is the Vice President of Community Shopping at Amazon where she leads the team responsible for iconic Amazon experiences including Customer Reviews and Wish Lists. Prior to joining Amazon in 2007, Ms. Chiarella held leadership positions at Microsoft, Yahoo!, Kodak, and Presto Services.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science from Manhattan College and her MBA from Harvard Business School.

Google’s Anna Patterson


Anna Patterson, PhD has been described as one of the most important women in technology. She is currently Founder and Managing Partner at Gradient Ventures and Vice President of Engineering at Google. Patterson received her B.S. in Computer Science and another in Electrical Engineering from Washington University and her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and was a Research Scientist at Stanford University in Artificial Intelligence working with John McCarthy on Phenomenal Data Mining and Carolyn Talcott on theorem provers.

VMware’s Yanbing Li

Yanbing Li is senior vice president and general manager of VMware’s Storage and Availability business unit. The group’s products are used by over 7,000 companies, VMware says, and the team has 1000 people in 5 countries. Li has a PhD in electrical engineering and computer engineering.

Make in LA’s Noramay Cadena


Noramay Cadena is a cofounder of Make in LA, a startup accelerator focused on hardware projects. Prior to that, spent over 12 years working across multiple business units at The Boeing Company. She led process improvement strategies across large development programs to help the company break the cost curve associated with bringing large programs to market. Noramay holds an MBA, a Master’s in Engineering Systems and a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering – all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

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Autonomous Road Painting

Road painting is a natural fit for automation because it requires precise execution according to clear standards. Road painting jobs are can be dangerous and are very labour-intensive. But these automated systems can increase speed, cut cost and improve consistency. It’s definitely the way forward. What do you think?

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The ultimate skyscraper is becoming a reality

A key innovation in building the ultimate skyscraper is making the buildings progressively more and more intelligent…

The building on the video is the 70-storey Trump Tower which according to its structural engineer, Ahmad Rahimian is currently the world’s tallest residential tower. It’s 862 feet high or about 263 meters. In order to build a building of that height, there were a lot of new technologies introduced into the building. A key innovation is how it deals with wind, it does more than just resist it. It actually cancels it out. How does it cancel it out? By using an ingenious device called Tuned Mass Damper. A tuned mass damper is in effect a huge counterweight, a massive 600 tonne block of solid steel surrounded by shock absorbers. The device cancel the wind pressures that apply to the building and suppress the building’s motion.

In 100 years, skyscrapers like the Trump Tower have expanded to 1o-storey bricks to 100+storey steel. All of the skyscraper’s weight is eventually transferred down to the ground, this ultimately takes the strain. The buildings of the modern skyscraper begins out of sight, deep below the earth. Today’s skyscrapers can have foundations more than 100-feet deep but the nature of the ground they rest upon is a crucial factor.

But the big change is still to come. We are going to see buildings in the future  progressively become more and more intelligent. The next level of technology is going to be 100+ storeys using active control systems. This technology is already well and truly integrated into our cars, anti-lock brake system, traction control etc. It’s just a matter of time before it becomes standard features to our buildings.

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Curve Appeal: The World’s First Freeform 3D-Printed House coming soon

The concept of 3D printed houses is nothing new. But as a result of a Freeform Home Design Challenge hosted by a Tennessee-based startup Branch Technology, Curve Appeal, the world’s first Freeform 3D printed house might soon be coming to a suburb near you.

Designed by the competition’s winner – WATG’s Chicago-based Urban Architecture Studio that includes Daniel Caven, Chris Hurst, Miguel Alvarez and Brent Watanabe, this 800-square-foot single-family home will be built in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

According to Branch Technology Founder, Platt Boyd, “Curve Appeal is a very thoughtful approach to the design of our first house. It responds well to the site conditions, magnifies the possibilities of cellular fabrication and pushes the envelope of what is possible while still utilizing more economical methods for conventional building systems integration.”

The design of the house consists of two main components: an interior core and exterior skin. The open and light filled interior living spaces protect occupants from the elements via passive strategies while connecting them to the exterior spaces and nature itself. The exterior skin is derived from simple yet careful calculated archways that ultimately blends with the site leaving an organic presence.

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Car-free cities with Superblocks

Imagine a city where you can freely roam the streets without the fear of getting hit by a car?

In Barcelona, they seem to have found the solution with Superblocks. Superblocks (superilles in Catalan), a concept developed by Salvador Rueda, director of the Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona.

What is a Superblock?

According to Rueda, a Superblock is defined by a grid of nine blocks where the main mobility happens on the roads around the outside the Superblock, and the roads within the Superblock are for local transit only. The one-way system inside the Superblock makes it impossible to cut through to the other side of the Superblock. That gives neighbours access to their garages and parking spaces but keeps the Superblock clear of through traffic.

Pretty cool, right?

The superblocks aim to address the following purposes:

  • More sustainable mobility
  • Revitalization of public spaces
  • Promotion of biodiversity and urban green
  • Promotion of urban social fabric and social cohesion
  • Promoting self-sufficiency in the use of resources
  • Integration of governance processes

Superblock might just be the key to reclaim public space that people lost over the last century. Hopefully we can make it happen in Australia too.


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Tackling world hunger with ancient knowledge and cutting-edge technology

Imagine if you could grow food with 97% less water and no chemicals?

That’s exactly what Local Roots Farms, a California based company is doing. They have created TerraFarms that can turn any produce into local produce, anywhere.  The TerraFarms are even safer than outdoor operations. By controlling the environment Local Roots, eliminate the plants’ exposure to harmful chemicals, harmful bacteria and other pathogens.

Traditional farming and TerraFarming are almost the same. They use the exact same seeds, exact same minerals and nutrients, and exact same light wavelengths to activate photosynthesis. The main differences are that the light is provided by LED lights instead of the sun and they have removed soil so that plants can directly access dissolved nutrients in the water (what they use anyways!)

In contrast to conventional farms, evaporation and soil seepage do not remove water from the TerraFarms. As the water runs through the farm, any water that’s not taken up by plant roots is recaptured, re-filtered, and recirculated into the system.

What do you reckon? Would you eat food grown by a TerraFarm?

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A new spray-on concrete will make buildings earthquake proof

Researchers from the University of British Columbia, under the leadership of Professor Nemkumar Banthia, developed a brand-new type of concrete, which can be sprayed onto walls, and will successfully protect buildings from being damaged in the event of even major quakes. This is possible thanks to a fibre-reinforced design which allows the concrete to bend, rather than fracture when it is violently shaken.

Known as eco-friendly ductile cementitious composite (EDCC), the concrete contains polymer-based fibres. These give it a strong-yet-malleable quality not unlike steel, which tends to flex under pressure instead of crumbling like traditional concrete.

“By replacing nearly 70 percent of cement with flyash, an industrial byproduct, we can reduce the amount of cement used,” said Banthia.  “This is quite an urgent requirement as one tonne of cement production releases almost a tonne of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and the cement industry produces close to seven percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.”

“This UBC-developed technology has far-reaching impact and could save the lives of not only British Columbians but citizens throughout the world,” said Advanced Education, Skills and Training Minister Melanie Mark. “The earthquake-resistant concrete is a great example of how applied research at our public universities is developing the next generation of agents of change. The innovation and entrepreneurship being advanced at all of our post-secondary institutions is leading to cutting-edge technologies and helping to create a dynamic, modern B.C. economy that benefits all of us.”

The research was funded by the UBC-hosted Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence IC-IMPACTS, which promotes research collaboration between Canada and India. IC-IMPACTS will make EDCC available to retrofit a school in Roorkee in Uttarakhand, a highly seismic area in northern India.

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The Great Green Wall of Africa

The Great Green Wall is an African-led project with an epic ambition: to grow an 8,000km natural wonder of the world across the entire width of Africa. Its goal is to provide food, jobs and a future for the millions of people who live in a region on the frontline of climate change.

A fantastical and almost impossible-sounding initiative, it was first conceived in 2005 by the former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, as a way to create an ecological barrier against the expanding Sahara desert – ultimately, to contain it. It has since evolved into a more ambitious pan-African movement, which aims to provide food, agriculture jobs and security for millions of people across the region. The partner countries are Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, The Gambia and Tunisia. The “wall” will cross these countries and it will be grown from the ground up, from trees and vegetation that will help to offset carbon dioxide emissions and restore land degradation.

The project will be supported by the World Bank, the African Union, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the UK Royal Botanical Gardens, which have together pledged $3 billion in addition to technical expertise.

A key partner in the initiative, the Head of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Monique Barbut, says, ‘The Great Green Wall is a symbol of hope not just for Africa, but for the whole world. It shows us that, by working with rather than against our natural environment, we can grow solutions to humanity’s greatest challenges, like climate change and migration.’

Once completed, this colossal feat of human endeavour will be the largest living structure on the planet – three times the length of the Great Barrier Reef.

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World’s five oldest dams still in use today

We could not possibly imagine a world without dams. Reservoirs created by dams not only suppress floods but also provide water for activities such as irrigation, human consumption, industrial use, aquaculture, and navigability.  Here are five of the world’s oldest dams which are still in use today.

Kallanai Dam (Grand Anicut)


The Kallanai Dam was built during the second century AD by Karikalan, a king of southern India’s old Chola Dynasty and is also one of the oldest irrigation systems in the world that is still in use. The purpose of the dam was to divert the waters of the Kaveri across the fertile Thanjavur delta region for irrigation via canals.

Sayama-ike Dam

Sayama-ike dam

The Sayama-ike Dam was constructed about 1,400 years ago by the order of the Emperor of the time, who said, “There is a shortage of water in Sayama area, which is likely to pose an obstacle to farming. Dig more ponds to promote agricultural development”. This event is recorded in the oldest history book in Japan. The Sayamaike Dam, which is the oldest artificial reservoir in Japan, and whose irrigation system has been used for a very long time, has been rehabilitated and modernized repeatedly since its operation. It is still in use as an agricultural water system.

Proserpina Dam, Spain

Prosepina Dam

The Proserpina Dam is a Roman gravity dam in Badajoz (province), Extremadura, Spain, dating to the 1st or 2nd century AD. It was built as part of the infrastructure which supplied the city of Emerita Augusta with water.  After the fall of the Roman Empire, the aqueduct leading to the city fell into decay, but the earth dam with retaining wall is still in use.

Lake Homs Dam, Syria

Lake Homs Dam

The Lake Homs Dam, also known as Quatinah Barrage, is a Roman-built dam near the city of Homs, Syria, which is in use to this day. Contrary to an older hypothesis which tentatively linked the origins of the dam to Egyptian ruler Sethi (1319–1304 BC), the structure dates to 284 AD when it was built by the Roman emperor Diocletian (284–305 AD) for irrigation purposes. With a capacity of 90 million m³, it is considered the largest Roman reservoir in the Near East and may have even been the largest artificial reservoir constructed up to that time. Remarkably, the reservoir has suffered very little silting since. With a capacity of 90 million m³, it is considered the largest Roman reservoir in the Near East and may have even been the largest artificial reservoir constructed up to that time. Remarkably, the reservoir has suffered very little silting since.

Sadd-e Kobar Dam, Iran

Sadde Kobar Dam

The Sadd-e Kobar Dam on the Kobar River in a 10th-century dam in Iran Built of limestone and clay. It’s a gravity dam that holds back the water entirely by its own weight. It provides protection against floods and supplies water for irrigation purpose.

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