Machine Design

Smartphone apps for engineers

App teaches about flight aerodynamics?
The Build A Bird app from the Dept. of Navy targets K to 12 STEM education. The goal of the game, which works on the iPhone and the Android, is said to be to teach kids about flight aerodynamics. However, the app does not seem to do this. Rather, it mostly teaches about birds and their environments. The push of a button lists facts about birds including the albatross, barn owl, pigeon, and hummingbird. Pushing the hummingbird icon, for instance, pops up a screen that shows several hummingbirds in their natural habitat. Pushing one of the various onscreen, pulsating spheres brings more information on the bird, such as, “Hummingbird wings beat an average of 70 times a second.” Another button lets users select a bird’s habitat, body, beak, wings, and tail. A correctly put together bird will then fly about its habitat. Tilting the smartphone determines which direction the bird glides.

A handy guide to automation solutions
The Rockwell Automation Power Generation app for the iPhone lets users watch videos of the company’s services in action, listen to podcasts on the firm’s Integrated Architecture, and read white papers, company brochures, and success stories. One of many white papers discusses how Rockwell Automation Australia’s project-engineering group helped upgrade the legacy control and information system of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme, which comprises two pumping stations and seven hydroelectric power stations that feed electricity to part of the Australian grid.

App for “mind mapping”
The SimpleMind+ app for the iPhone lets users create “mind maps” — colorful, graphical representations of related topics grouped around a central theme. Mind maps are said to be helpful in brainstorming, structured note-taking, creating to-do lists, and presenting ideas. Simple- Mind+ lets users quickly add bubbles and fill them with text. It’s easy to move the bubbles around, copy them, and connect and reconnect them to best capture your ideas. Users can e-mail their maps in PDF format or save them to Photo Albums and e-mail them as .JPEGs from there. A Style button allows changing background and bubble colors.

© 2011 Penton Media, Inc.

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