Letters - 3/06/08

March 6, 2008
The ad was better than the show I enjoyed the article about truck advertising (“Engineering an ad,” Jan. 10).

However, I believe I noticed an error. The ramp is stated to be at a 27.5° angle, but the math does not add up. With a height of roughly 60 ft and a length of roughly 270 ft, the angle would be approximately 12.5°. I believe the percent incline may have been 27.5% which would be an angle of approximately 15.4°, much closer to the calculated angle based on the given dimensions. I may be wrong but something doesn’t seem right.

Riley Keller

You are correct, the incline was 27.5%, not degrees, a slip made by an editor who is more used to seeing angles in degrees than inclines in percentages.

I was excited to see this well written article. Like everyone else, and engineers in particular, I wondered if the tests performed on TV were actually real. The segment about the seesaw indicates that some proprietary safety precautions were taken. The most dangerous test, though, is the ramp where the brakes are tested and the vehicle stops 4 in. from the edge of a ramp leading to instant disaster and death. Advertisers thrive on this kind of sensationalism. There was no indication of any safeties. I have trouble believing there were not some serious safeties used here. Too many factors can go awry. Can you substantiate that some safeties were used?

Ron Himmel

Safety crews deployed some proprietary (and secret) precautionary devices on all the spots, but they were never used, according to the ad agency. So drivers could have been wearing a jet pack and a parachute (highly doubtful), but he never had to use them. So yes, there were safeties used in all the commercials. Sorry if that wasn’t made clear.

It’s unlikely I’ll be buying a truck from Toyota anytime soon. They must be overpriced. Someone has to pay for the millions they spent on those stunts.

Jim Kurk

I’m sure Toyota’s ratio of ad budget to number of cars and trucks sold (ad dollar per vehicle) is on par with U.S. manufacturers.

The most important CFD myth
The writer of the CFD article (“The myths of CFD,” Dec. 13) forgot Myth 0, that owning CFD software makes you a fluid dynamics expert. Owning the software makes you an expert like owning a lathe makes you a machinist. CFD is great for analysis. It can tell you what might be going on (if you press all the right buttons). But it can’t tell you how to fix a chattering valve or an inefficient pump. If you don’t know a turbulent boundary layer from a drag coefficient, you might spend a lot of time playing with the CFD and getting nowhere.

Steve Harrington

A shortage of shortages
I read your article, “Finally, the truth about engineering jobs” (Dec. 13), and felt you were right on the mark. There never was an engineering shortage, and companies just want the lowest manpower costs. The editorial explains that there needs to be an increase in demand for engineering jobs, which is exactly what I have been hoping for all along. If there is an increase in demand, there will be an increase in students going into engineering. Anyone who thought increasing the number of students interested in engineering would erase a nonexistent shortage, help the profession, or improve U.S. competitiveness, was not realistic. Students go where the jobs are, and seeing engineering jobs get cut back, or sent overseas, turns them off to engineering. A rocket scientist can see that. Why can’t out politicians?

Thanks for finally getting the truth out.

Ronald Goldstein

PE or not PE?
William G. Gillette wrote a letter concerning the term “engineer” (“Which is the right degree?” Letters, Dec. 13). He believes engineers should have PE certifications before they can be called engineers. The problem with this idea is that most companies do not care if engineers have PE certification or not. If the employer can get the job completed with engineers who do not have PE licenses, then none are hired. I work at a company with no PEs so I am not qualified to take the PE exam. (Someone with a PE must agree that I am worthy.) So it all comes back to the employers. If they have no need for a PEs then the engineer has no need to get the PE or the ability to attain the certification.

Terry Johnson

Kicking the fossil fuel habit
In a recent vantage-point column (“The ethanol industry wants your sympathy,” Jan. 10), Robert Bryce writes that ethanol as a fuel will fall flat on its face. And he may be right. But never before in our history have we, as citizens of the world, needed to face the fact we need to kick the fossil-fuel habit. And as an engineer, I know full well that mankind can find the answer. But engineers and scientists can only pour those vast amounts of effort into this problem if they are allowed to. And in today’s world, which strongly believes fossil fuels will still be the major source of energy in 2030, there is no real incentive to move alternative energy sources forward.

I have no problem with Mr. Bryce offering his point of view. But I would like to see the other side provide a rebuttal. Why is it that alternative fuels cannot be moved forward faster? What is wrong with government stepping in and pushing forward a technology for the good of mankind? Our government provides a standing army for the protection of our nation. Why not create an army of engineers and scientists to tackle the overwhelming energy problems? In my mind, the stakes are already to high to not correct this problem.

Randy Juras

Name that gadget
Be the first to identify this vehicle from a past issue of Machine Design and win a fabulous prize, along with the honor of seeing your name in an upcoming issue. E-mail entries to [email protected] and put “Gadget” in the subject line.

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