This article highlights that mechanical engineers control most of the rest of our energy economy. The engineering focus will shift inexorably toward finding the most efficient means of generating electricity on-board. Trains and monster trucks both use big diesel generators. Hybrid cars on the road today burn gasoline, but it is the fuel cell that attracts the most attention from visionaries and critics of the internal combustion engine. Remarkably elegant in its basic operation, the fuel cell transforms fuel into electricity in a single step, completely bypassing the furnace, turbine, and generator. In this scenario, mechanical engineering ultimately surrenders its last major under-the-hood citadel to chemical engineers. One might say that the age of mechanical engineering was launched by James Watt's steam engine in 1763, and propelled through its second century by Nikolaus Otto’s 1876 invention of the spark-ignited petroleum engine. We are now at the dawn of the age of electrical engineering, not because we recently learned how to generate light-speed electrical power, but because we have now finally learned how to control it.
The End of the M.E.?
Peter W. Huber a former mechanical engineering instructor at MIT is a senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute.
Mark P. Mills a physicist is a founding partner of a venture fund. Digital Power Capital. They are co-authors of The Bottomless Well (Basic Books. 2005).
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Huber, P., and Mills, M. P. (May 1, 2005). "The End of the M.E.?." ASME. Mechanical Engineering. May 2005; 127(05): 26–29. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.2005-MAY-1
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