May 17, 2018

Not Much Engineers Can Do About Volcanoes

The Hawaiian Kilauea Volcano recently demonstrated the Earth's massive seismic energy when it erupted on Big Island. While volcanoes don't seem like a problem that most of us have to worry about, the folks living in Leilani Estates might be questioning if they made the most prudent choice with their real estate investment given that fissures are opening up in the streets with lava flows overtaking abandoned vehicles.

Regular earthquakes have hit Big Island since the eruption of the Kilaueau Volcano began, with a magnitude as great as 7.1, causing even further risk to life and exacerbating property damage from the lava flows.

Movement of tectonic plates can cause a release of pressure in the earth's crust, which releases magma to the Earth's surface, creating lava flows. In areas of active volcanoes, this activity takes place regularly, and has taken place multiple times in recent geologic history. The release of lava at the ground surface builds up over time to form volcanoes like the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii.

Unfortunately, the massive energy released from volcanoes isn't something that can be prevented even with modern engineering practices. The best plan is to have emergency action plans in place to warn the public in the event of impending and ongoing volcanic explosions so they stand the best chance of evacuating the areas around volcanoes before they are impacted from the
lava flows, flying debris, or toxic sulfur gas.  - Mike Batten, DTC Civil Geotechnical Instructor


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May 15, 2018

You Can Be a Super Hero!

All you need to activate your super powers is a little help from Dr. Tom’s Classroom. Armed with the preparation, strategies and resources you get with our PE Exam reviews, you can achieve the extraordinary. And now is the perfect time to start your PE Exam preparation with our 20-Week Reviews.



Dr. Tom developed the 20-Week Review because he found, after many years of preparing engineers for the PE Exam, that 20 weeks is the optimal time frame for learning and retaining the knowledge and skills you need to pass the exam (more on why Dr. Tom's 20-Week Review Method is critical to your success).

Dr. Tom has also honed his review into a targeted, structured review that will help you focus your efforts and make the most of the ideal exam preparation window, all with the support of a team that is dedicated to your success. Let us help you activate your super powers and triumph over the PE Exam.

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May 11, 2018

FREE VIDEO OF THE MONTH - Dr. Tom’s Civil PE Exam Strategy - Part 1

Choosing the right Civil PE Exam to take is a critical step for any civil engineer planning to take the exam. For some folks, the answer is clear cut, but for lots of folks it’s not. Dr. Tom has carefully reviewed the specifications and references required for each Civil PE Exam, and has laid out his the criteria for choosing each of the five Civil exams: Construction, Geotechnical, Structural, Transportation, and Water Resources & Environmental. Before you make this all-important decision, you should take a look at his recommendations in Dr. Tom’s Civil PE Exam Strategy - Part 1. Some of them might surprise you!


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May 10, 2018

The Art of Thermodynamics - Literally

A recent ASME Article reinforced ideas I have had about the connection between creativity and engineering. The article talks about Dr. Diana Bairaktarova, a professor at Virginia Tech, has recently published a paper, "Thermodynamics in High Rhythms and Rhymes: Creative Ways of Knowing in Engineering." Growing up in Bulgaria, her first love was sketching, however there was no art school in the area where she lived. So she chose mechanical engineering as a way to draw.

In a recent Thermodynamics class at Virginia Tech, she had the students do a special project where they were to create something involving a thermodynamic principle using an artistic medium such as a picture, poem, song, movie, comic strip, anything of their choosing. Though many of the students were clearly out of their comfort zone, the data on which her paper is based showed that the students did better in the area that they did their creative project.

Dr. Bairaktarova also discovered that the assignment created an environment in the classroom of "trust and risk taking that is not always the case in an engineering class." There is a national movement in education to use less "lecture-based" learning and incorporate more creative aspects. This is certainly a move in that direction. One of the classic books on how to draw is "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain." I can see someday in the near future a textbook titled, "Thermodynamics on the Right Side of the Brain." It might very well become a best seller for its innovative approach to learning. - Dr. Tom


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May 7, 2018

FEATURED TESTIMONIAL - Study Anytime, Anywhere

“I’m 10 years out of school with 3 kids under 3 and a full time job in project management. DTC gave me a plan, helped me prioritize the key areas of study, not get bogged down into too much subject-matter detail, and spend my time effectively. I also liked the flexibility of video on demand. Most of my studying was done late at night. The PRN’s were most helpful. I think the structured approach of developing them, organizing them, ensuring you have material for everything was key to success. Due to all the work put in in developing them, I did not end up using them much during the exam because I knew most of the material off-hand. That being the key to passing. Dr Tom’s approach and his ability to explain things very clear and concise was a huuuuge help! Dr. Tom's teaching is humorous and relatable. I loved how Dr Tom would explain the theory, and then relate it to why/how it’s actually useful…. So helpful when learning. I would absolutely recommend Dr. Tom’s 20-Week Review to others preparing for the ME PE Exam. It’s priced right, and has great content.”
- Lance Way, PE, Chevron Phillips Chemical, Texas

 
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May 3, 2018

Taking the Long View

A comprehensive risk assessment framework can be useful to make civil engineering infrastructure cheaper, safer, and more resilient to forces and loads. In an example of bridge failure analysis, researchers considered various failure modes to paint a more complete picture of the risk level of the structure. - Daniel Findley, DTC Civil Transportation Instructor


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May 1, 2018

Activate Your Super Powers!

Preparing for the PE Exam requires an heroic effort, but now is the perfect time to start your PE Exam preparation with Dr. Tom's Classroom ‘s 20-Week Reviews.

Dr. Tom developed the 20-Week Review because he found, after many years of preparing engineers for the PE Exam, that 20 weeks is the optimal time frame for learning and retaining the knowledge and skills you need to pass the exam (more on why Dr. Tom's 20-Week Review Method is critical to your success).

Dr. Tom has also honed his review into a targeted, structured review that will help you focus your efforts and make the most of the ideal exam preparation window, all with the support of a team that is dedicated to your success. Let us help you activate your super powers and triumph over the PE Exam.

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April 27, 2018

FEATURED PE EXAM PREP TIP – Two Calculators are Better than One

Of course you want to make sure you are using an approved calculator.  The list is in the NCEES Examinee Guide available on the NCEES website. 

I recommend that you purchase two identical models and use both calculators during your review. You should have a back up during the exam, and you need to know that both of them are working correctly. So alternate calculators regularly as you prepare for the exam to make sure they both get a work out and you are confident they will both work for you on exam day. - Dr. Tom


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April 25, 2018

Could Green Technology get any Cooler?

As they say, "necessity is the mother of invention." When it comes to air conditioning, a recent ASME article estimates that 40% of the energy consumed by a typical building in hot weather goes into cooling the air. The article goes on to say that roughly 6% of all the energy produced in the US is used to cool the indoor.

A team working at the University of Singapore has developed a prototype system that basically uses evaporative cooling, but in a very innovative way. Their process accomplishes the cooling in two separate steps. First, the air is passed over paper filters coated with super hydrophilic chemicals which separate the water vapor from the air. Then, the very dry air passes through a series of counter flow passages, 10 to 20% through wet channels and the remaining through dry channels. Evaporative cooling takes place in the wet channels. Each pass can drop the temperature about 6 degrees.  And since humidity and temperature are treated separately, they can be controlled very accurately, basically independent of each other.

Three monumental benefits of this system. First, no harmful chlorofluorocarbons are involved. Second, evaporative cooling replaces costly and energy hog compressors. And third, the system produces drinkable water. In Singapore where the outside humidity is typically 85% (and 50% of the water is imported, 30% recycled), the prototype system produces 12 to 15 liters of water, only 1 liter of which is needed to keep the wet channels wet. The net gain of useful water could have an enormous impact in areas where a lack of clean water causes significant health problems, and at the same time bring indoor cooling to people who have never experienced such an environment.

There will certainly be challenges in scaling up this test system and its application in areas where the humidity is low, however the benefits are so substantial that the power of "Green" takes on a whole new meaning. - Dr. Tom


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April 23, 2018

FEATURED TESTIMONIAL - The 2nd Time Is the Charm with DTC

“As a repeat exam taker, I felt like I was prepared the first time I took the exam, but very inefficient. I had to look through multiple books for formulas and conversion factors which resulted in wasting very valuable time. With the Dr. Tom Method on the second, I had 75-80% of the necessary formulas, conversions, and charts/graphs right in front of me. I also understood the importance of not dwelling on any one single problem for too long, which also hurt me in the first attempt. With a little luck and some good fortune, I passed on the second attempt. Thanks to Dr. Tom and his staff for helping me achieve this career and personal goal.”
- Phillip Scrimpshire, Thompson’s Welding Services, Hamilton, MS


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April 19, 2018

Modeling Sneaker Waves

Have you ever been standing on the beach and out of nowhere, a wave rushes up and knocks you down (or wets your stuff), even if you were standing far back from the water line? You might have met up with what some call “sneaker” waves. These “run-ups of unusual size” can pull unsuspecting beachgoers into the water and even cause fatalities.

A recent study examined how a phenomenon called bore-bore capture (when two or more breaking waves in the surf zone combine into one powerful wave rolling onshore) can lead to extreme wave run-up events. Study researchers developed a mathematical model to simulate the typical behavior of waves on a gently sloping beach. Using this model, they found that when two or more bores (the water rushing up after the wave breaks) merge, the combination can create a wave run-up that could be more than 50 percent larger than the sum of the run-ups that would have been caused by each of the individual waves. Read more about the study here and see a video of a “sneaker wave” on the Oregon coast. - Beth Sciaudone, DTC Civil Water Resources & Environmental Instructor


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April 17, 2018

Who Says You Can’t Be a Super Hero?

All you need to activate your super powers is a little help from Dr. Tom’s Classroom. Armed with the preparation, strategies and resources you get with our PE Exam reviews, you can achieve the extraordinary. And now is the perfect time to start your PE Exam preparation with our 20-Week Reviews.



Dr. Tom developed the 20-Week Review because he found, after many years of preparing engineers for the PE Exam, that 20 weeks is the optimal time frame for learning and retaining the knowledge and skills you need to pass the exam (more on why Dr. Tom's 20-Week Review Method is critical to your success).

Dr. Tom has also honed his review into a targeted, structured review that will help you focus your efforts and make the most of the ideal exam preparation window, all with the support of a team that is dedicated to your success. Let us help you activate your super powers and triumph over the PE Exam.

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April 13, 2018

FREE VIDEO OF THE MONTH - Dr. Tom’s 2nd Most Popular Video of All Time! - Slider-Crank

A couple of months ago we featured Dr. Tom’s most popular video ever on Distributed Loads, which has now topped 50,000 views! Today we’d like to highlight Dr. Tom's second most popular video on Slider-Crank with over 24,000 views. This video is an instructional companion to the MERM, covering the section on the Slider-Crank mechanism in the chapter on Kinematics. It’s generated comments like, “Thanks a lot sir, you have just saved my gpa.” and “This was excellently explained, thank you very much!” and “Simple and easy, thank you!” and “You are a lifesaver sir. Thanks a lot.” and “Thank you sir for helping us through amazing lecture videos.” Maybe it’s time to check out what all the fuss is about.

Dr. Tom has created over 40 videos about Mechanical Engineering Topics that he offers for free on the DTC website and on YouTube. These videos have become very popular with engineers and engineering students around the world. They also supplement the lessons contained in Dr. Tom’s Mechanical PE Exam Review Courses.


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April 11, 2018

Hitting Asteroids with a HAMMER

Sometimes two things come together to jolt your imagination from scary science fiction to even scarier science fact. My wife and I were surfing channels the other night and came across the 1998 movie, Armageddon, which was a science fiction story about an asteroid destined to hit earth. It came out several months after the movie Deep Impact, which had a similar plot. In Armageddon two space shuttles were to be launched toward the asteroid, land, then drill down to its core and then deposit a nuclear weapon. The crews would take off and the weapon would be detonated blowing the asteroid into tiny pieces.

Well, the next day, I'm going down through my ASME SmartBriefs and see a link to a NewAtlas article about NASA's plan to "bat away Earth-bound asteroids." Could not believe what I was reading.  Basically the same scenario as the movie Armageddon, except the rockets NASA plans to build would have dual capabilities, either kinetic impact to change the course of the asteroid, or deliver a nuclear weapon, just like in the movie. What is fascinating is that while in the movie the timeframe for the asteroid to hit Earth is like in days, the timeframe NASA would be faced with would be in years. They have a 10-year scenario where 34 to 53 separate rockets would be involved, or a 25-year scenario where only 7 to 11 rockets would be needed. The difference being the closer to Earth the more impact is needed to change the course of the asteroid.

And to top off what can only be Hollywood thinking is NASA's name for the rocket, "Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response," or HAMMER. Is that a great name or what?  A movie title if I have ever heard one. - Dr. Tom


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April 9, 2018

FEATURED TESTIMONIAL - The Best Method

“I passed the Civil Geotechnical PE Exam with a score of 79. Thank you for providing excellent tools for taking the test. It really was the best method to help me prepare well. I will be telling my colleagues about your course and how well it worked for me. Thanks again!”
- PE, Texas


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