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Mechanical Engineering Design Essential to Show Climate Change Effects by City Tech Blogger Diego Curatolo

As a mechanical engineering technology student, the possibilities for design, fabrication and manufacturing are endless.  So, one may ask, why not use these skills to improve the quality of our everyday lives?  The ability to design and create mechanical testing equipment is priceless when it comes to observing the changes climate change is having on our lives.
Climate change is often associated with rising temperatures as well as rising sea levels.  These factors are usually displayed on frequently seen simulations depicting the entire globe, using deep red and orange colors to show change.  These simulations and other visual aids are crucial to conveying the effects of climate change.  Also, evident is the necessity for accurate data to create such graphics.  This is where testing equipment plays a vital role, without devices such as satellites and sea level gauges appropriate data would be nearly impossible to collect.  These devices are designed and tested by engineering teams that most definitely include a mechanical engineer.  Devices like satellites must be produced to withstand various harsh conditions, including but not limited to the forces generated when launching, as well as incredibly cold temperatures in orbit.  They are often equipped with delicate testing equipment that must be protected to insure the integrity of the mission.

For instance, the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) is a satellite launched by NASA in 2006.  The device is part of what NASA calls its A-Train, a series of five satellites orbiting earth to collect various data effecting climate change.  The CALIPSO’S main objective is to collect data that will be used to study the effects clouds and aerosols have on the earth’s weather, climate and air quality.  The device consists of components such as Solar panels, GPS antenna, various gyroscopes as well as LIDAR electronics, all of which are incredibly fragile.  Furthermore, equipment such as sea level gauges are also subject to some tough conditions.  These devices are submerged, and some parts can face some pretty strong winds.  With that in mind, a team of engineers must create an appropriate casing to ensure the longevity of the testing equipment inside.  These devices also come with a variety of other data collection devices such as pressure sensors.  The sea level gage is often times part of a much larger system comprising of multiple data collection devices making them as a unit an engineering project.
A key role of a mechanical engineer’s job usually includes manufacturing, which in the case of developing the discussed equipment is essential.  Through various technological advances manufacturing has changed drastically.  The term Additive Manufacturing, or as it is often referred to as, 3D printing has changed our everyday lives.  The process begins with a three-dimensional model that is then converted into a file recognized by the printing machine, to create complex geometries that were once impossible to create.  This can revolutionize the way these devices are made.  They can be produced not only quicker, but cheaper.  At a cheaper rate, governments and other organizations will be able to easily implement them where necessary.  This will ultimately increase the amount of data we can collect which will allow us to better understand climate change.

Ultimately, the engineer plays a vital role in the mission’s success.  Without a trusted and well-versed engineering team, the devices would be rendered useless after quite a short amount of time. Therefore, the wide range of data these devices collect can be directly associated with their design.

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2 Responses

  1. What an interesting read from my fellow city tech peer, in which he discusses how we already apply Mechanical engineering to demonstrate the effect of climate change, especially a NASA device called A-Train to detect the effects clouds and aerosols have on the earth’s weather, climate and air quality. However, not only should we used Mechanical Engineering to detect climate change, but, overall, we can use this field to help the environment. This is to further add to his point on the importance of how additive manufacturing is revolutionizing the industry. One method which we can do is to help recycling plastics instead of throwing them away as waste. In additive manufacturing, we see that in making 3d models, we tend to use recycled plastic material to make models because the value of it is cheap compared to other available filament in the market. An example, of this being used in a larger scale is in the company Adidas, in which they are using recycle plastics from the ocean to be used in their shoe lines and clothing line. Real Madrid C.F, an Adidas sponsor teams have been using recycled plastic material in their kit or jerseys for match game, since 2016 to now. Adidas have also implemented recycled material in their Ultra Boost line, which provides the best cushion and best fit for people foot. They are calibrating with Parley to reduce the amount of plastic found in the ocean by using those plastics as material for 3D printing the shoes. This could provide beneficial in the long run, since we are using plastics that are discarded and helping to clean the environment. I believe most big companies should follow the policy on how Adidas are able to use waste material into useable product.

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