State of the Art

State of the Art September/October 2020
It is easy for me to imagine life without harmonicas, but for my parents’ generation, harmonicas were as common as rain. They were small and easy to fit in a shirt pocket or kit bag, and, whenever an idle moment presented itself, out came the harmonica to render a slightly reedy version of a well-known song: songs like “Red River Valley,” “You Are My Sunshine,” or “Tennessee Waltz.”... Read more
State of the Art July/August 2020
Collateral Learning
Students take engineering courses to learn techniques for solving problems. Thus, most engineering courses taken by undergraduate students are highly technical in nature. But, there are many additional techniques and skills that can be learned along the way... Read more
State of the Art May/June 2020
Ethics in the Era of Artificial Intelligence
Ethics can be interesting and fascinatingly compelling because of the subtle natures of its solutions in ambiguous situations. Articles on ethical issues and college courses on ethics rarely present answers to the questions that are posed. That is because ethical responses are highly situational and depend a lot on commonly accepted, but not codified, beliefs, and attitudes... Read more
State of the Art March/April 2020
Consciousness in Animals
Are humans the only species with a sense of consciousness? This question has intrigued me for most of my life. Having kept pets and livestock animals, and observed wild animals from both near and far, I have often wondered just how much they know about their surroundings and their place in it. Do they know how to reason out answers to questions important to them? Are they aware of the consequences of their actions? Can they anticipate what other animals, including those of close kin and other, more remote species, are likely to do in certain situations? Can they see themselves inside their minds, if they do, indeed, have minds? Do they dream?... Read more
State of the Art January/February 2020
School Security?
“Schools rethink security training” was the headline on page 1 of the 30 December 2019 issue of The Baltimore Sun daily newspaper. The accompanying article went on to explain that Maryland school students felt unsafe at school. Students on average... Read more
State of the Art November/December 2019
A War at All Costs?
War between the two worlds Eminiar VII and Vendikar had gone on for 500 years with no cessation in sight. This war was conducted by computer simulation, so that a virtual hit on one planet was retaliated by a computer-generated... Read more
State of the Art September/October 2019
We, as a society, have become too easily distracted. We are all suffering these days from lack of focus, and it could get worse. “TMI” stands for “too much information,” and it is too much information that contributes to our... Read more
State of the Art July/August 2019
There’s Nothing Like Real Experience: I
As the saying goes, the point on a pencil is the inspiration and the other end with the eraser is the experience. A pencil without an eraser is next to useless, as I have found out. Yes, I know that,... Read more
State of the Art May/June 2019
Fun in the Classroom
Each class session is a different performance. Whether the instructor is at the top of his or her form or feeling very low that day, a mask must come over him or her, and the show commences at the appointed... Read more
State of the Art March/April 2019
Written Communications
No matter if an engineer did the best job in the world with a design, if the person responsible for the design cannot communicate the design effectively, then the design effort was wasted. That’s the reason that I gave to... Read more