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Making Of The Electronic Magic; Ga Manufacturing Alliance Tour Of Engent

December 19, 2014
November 5 **** I knew electronics fabrication changed radically since my employment with Texas Instruments. I was looking forward to speaking with people in the field and seeing the latest developments. The continual advances in electronics are having an impact on everyday lives and are changing the manufacturing in every industry. Mark, Tim, Andre and Brian at Engent were very gracious to give a tour of their facility and to knowledgably explain electronics manufacturing processes.

The devices are smaller, more capable and more ubiquitous. The manufacturing techniques have become faster, more precise, and selective. The Georgia Manufacturing Alliance tour of Engent was very interesting and informative. Engent, located in Norcross, provides advanced electronic development services, analysis and diagnostic services, testing and qualification services, as well as electronics manufacturing.

I found the electronics assembly area impressive. They assemble rigid, flexible and hybrid boards. In today’s electronics, only a few components are through board deices. Axial mount components (components with a wire extending from each end) and DIP (dual Inline pin) packages have largely been replaced by surface mount devices. Surface mount devices are smaller and have smaller electrical connection contacts on the surfaces instead of wires. Sometimes the components are assembled into a small sub-circuit circuit called a die. These dies are then used in a bigger circuit. In the old days the axial components were cut from the manufacturers tape and placed in order in a staging tape which was then fed into the insertion machines. Modern placement machines do not require that the components be in the long sorted ordered sequence. The modern systems work directly from the manufacturer supplied strip of components. While wave soldering is used, more circuits are processed with laser soldering and selective soldering.

Engent can test and qualify products for performance and potential failure. They have equipment and expertise to test for various conditions of temperature, vibration, power cycling, thermal shock, humidity, and mechanical forces. Engent can also analyze devices for quality issues and to forensically determine failure causation.

Engent is in the center of developing technologies. It was very interesting to hear about placing electronics in the side of drug capsules. As part of a local intra net of things, once swallowed the pill would send a signal to a nearby receiver to aid in record keeping. The electronics would reduce the nursing work load by automatically supplying timely, highly accurate, and very precise record of critical drug application.

This was an excellent event; interesting people and very interesting technology.

Southeast Inventor Association October Meeting

November 18, 2014
October 25 **** The people who attend the Southeast Inventors Association always are coming up with out of the box thinking. The organization urges scrupulously safe sharing so no one is taken advantage of. Everyone celebrates when some announces a milestone achievement such as receiving a provisional patent or successfully marketing an idea. These are people who have ideas and are will to help with suggestions.

The program this day was on 3D printing. In many ways 3D printing is revolutionizing the product development process and is becoming a production manufacture process. Some devices cannot be manufactured any other way. Ron Robinson, John Stahl and Jason Daenzer of 3DCAD Printer Inc. gave a very interesting and informative presentation. They had lots of samples and gave a very good explanation of the process, capabilities, and applications. With an internet connection they showed a number of YouTube videos and linked to useful websites. They presented a list of useful free downloadable tools related to making computer models and formatting them for 3D printing. At one point the local Wi-Fi was pretty slow. Someone in the group supplied an alternative connection with his cellphone. This illustrates how the people at SIA meetings are helpful, tech savvy and inventive.

They apologized for not having a machine on hand. All the equipment was tied up on a very rush production of swag for a Google corporate convention. Although the presenters were on a tight schedule, they graciously answered many questions.

There were announcements of future events and folks mentioned if they were looking for any additional expertise.

GSPE meeting with Brian Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State

November 18, 2014
Oct 21 **** It is unusual for me to attend two GSPE meetings in one month. I felt it was important to hear what this speaker had to say at the Cobb Chapter of the Georgia Society of Professional Engineers. Brian Kemp, the Georgia Secretary of State spoke on the functioning of the Georgia State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors. Like accounting or practicing law, engineering is a regulated profession. In order to assure the safety and welfare of the public, practicing engineers must adhere to the rules and regulations. By law, the Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors promulgates, administers and enforces those laws. In Georgia, the board is part of the Secretary of State office.

Brian spoke of efforts to improve the board's functions and recent successes. The updating of the computer systems is a major ongoing effort. He and his staff are justifiably proud of the efficiency and the short response times. They able to process registration applications and renewals within three days.

He still sees room for improvement. The office is underfunded and suffers from the legislative habit of using the paid engineering registration fees for other programs in the general budget. He acknowledges that there is not enough funding for investigators.

In recent years the legislature added a provision that applicants must submit a notarized affidavit of identity and citizenship or legal immigration status. Part of the legislative stipulation was not fully thought out. He agrees with most engineers that resubmitting it each time is redundant and adds to the staff's work load with little benefit.

Oct GSPE meeting

November 18, 2014
October 13 **** The October dinner meeting of the Atlanta Metro Chapter of the Georgia Society of Professional Engineers was pretty good. I enjoy these meetings because I meet interesting people and I usually learn something new each time. I also earn a PDH that is required to maintain my PE registration.

Neal F. Brown, PE, Principal Design Engineer, Design & Construction, Norfolk Southern Railway, presented on Railroad Engineering in the 21st Century. At the start of the presentation he illustrated how safety is a major factor of the NS culture.

Rail transportation is an essential portion of the transportation infrastructure. Many people do not understand the depth of planning and engineering involved with keeping the freight moving quickly and safely. Neal has worked for NS since his days as a Ga Tech co-op, through a number of assignments. He is well versed in the development of the rail system infrastructure and emerging associated technologies.

It is a normal course in Norfolk Southern to start presentations with some aspect of safety. He performed a quick safety analysis of the meeting venue; the location of the emergency exits, the presence of fire extinguishers, the ability of the management to evacuate the building if needed, and considering the forecast of bad weather, the best places to take shelter in case of tornado. With a slides, he was able to discuss systems were upgraded through past 100 plus years and the goals stretching into the future. He discussed some of the efforts to reengineer a major portion of the rail system to improve efficiency and customer service in the multi-discipline Crescent Corridor undertaking.

Jason Moss with the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance gave a short presentation on upcoming programs for networking manufacturers across the state.

The students in attendance paid close attention when Jim Remich described the scholarships administered through the Georgia Engineering Foundation.

Welcome to the Grabinovations Blog

November 17, 2014
Running a business is much like an adventure with many events to meet interesting people, to hear inspiring concepts, and to learn new interesting things. Watch this space for regular updates to my blog