Jane Price Hill, PE (Ret), MBA
Gifts for Mechanical Engineers
Ford Plans to Turn McDonald's Used Coffee
Bean Husks into Auto Parts

By Mariella Moon
Dec. 4, 2019

Ford already uses various sustainable
materials like soy and tree cellulose in an
effort to only use recycled and renewable
plastics in its vehicles. It has added coffee
chaff to the list after its research team
discovered that it can be turned into a
durable product by heating it to high
temperatures under low oxygen and mixing
it with additives like plastic. The material
will then be turned into pellets that can be
formed into various shapes. During the
team's tests, they found that the
chaff-based material has "significantly
better" heat properties than the current
material Ford is using. They also discovered
that it'll allow the company to enjoy 25
percent energy savings during the molding
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article make sense? (2) are the sources reliable? and (3) is there a bias that would benefit particular the author or his/her constituents,
business interest, or associates?
Robot Firefighter Used during Notre Dame

By John Kosowatz
Dec 4. 2019

"Firefighters, hampered by the sheer size of
the building and the fire, rolled a 21st
Century tool into the nave directly under
the burning roof where it was deemed too
dangerous for them to work. A firefighting
robot named Colossus maintained its
position for eight hours, spraying water
from its hose at the fire above."
Teaching Robots and Cars to See Around

By Nancy S. Giges
Dec 10, 2019

A warning and anti-collision system
developed by MIT researchers for
autonomous vehicles and robots goes
beyond line of sight to determine what
might be emerging from around corners or
other opaque obstacles. The key lies in the
ShadowCam system's ability to detect and
assess small changes in shadows on the
ground using a type of color amplification
and motion amplification.
Engineers are notoriously difficult to shop for.  Here are a few
suggestions from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers
The PowerUp 3.0 turns any ordinary paper
airplane into a remote-controlled plane. The
conversion kit features a tail propeller and
Bluetooth-enabled controls so you can use
your smartphone to steer, tilt, and accelerate
your paper jet.  Available from
Amazon for
Smartphone-Controlled Paper Airplane by
A mechanical engineer, Col. Chris Hadfield  
was the first Canadian astronaut to walk in
space. He has flown two Space Shuttle
missions and commanded the International
Space Station.  His engineering background
helped him solve problems on the ISS using
only a Swiss army knife and survive such
harrowing events as nearly being blinded
hanging on to the spacecraft’s exterior. This
book explains how thinking like an astronaut
can be applied to solving earthly problems.  
An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth
Electric Paint Pen
No soldering or electrical experience is
required with Electric Paint that goes on
like any water based paint—but once it’s
dry, it conducts electricity.  The paint
dries at room temperature and has a
resistance of 200 to 300 ohms per
square inch.  $12.25 from
For more suggestions, check out the article by  Carlos M. Gonzalez, December 10,
2019:  "
Last Minute Engineering Gift Ideas."