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Mechanical engineering

Terry Ishihara
Spring 2015

Terry Ishihara ’49—“You can’t be happy and bitter”

As a teen in Tacoma, Terry (Teruo) Ishihara had his life planned out. The oldest child in his family, he was going to take over his father’s laundry business.

That all changed in the summer of 1942 when he and more than 150,000 people of Japanese ancestry living on the west coast were imprisoned as the United States entered World War II.

More than seven decades later, Ishihara clearly recalls the particulars of his internment, including names of fellow prisoners and a prized comic book collection that he had to leave behind. He recounts the nightmarish details without rancor. “You can’t be happy and bitter,’’ … » More …

Dan Rottler on windmill
Winter 2013

Dan Rottler ’92—Atop towers of power

On a windy night, when some of us might worry about things going bump in the dark, Dan Rottler ’92 frets over 20-ton boxes of gears turning more than 200 feet above the ground. The gearboxes are like outsized automobile transmissions, capable of cranking the energy of the slowly turning 16-rpm blade of a wind turbine up to 1,800 rpm.

As plant manager of Puget Sound Energy’s Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility, Rottler has 149 of these beasts to lose sleep over. Not to mention wildfires, lightning strikes, microbursts of changing weather, blizzards, ice-covered power lines, and even more unexpected things, like the time … » More …

Summer 2003

Tiny Motors

The Palouse Piezoelectric Power (P3) engine is three millimeters wide, three millimeters long, and 100 microns thick, making it the world’s smallest engine. Just over 6,447 engines placed side by side would cover a page of this magazine, and each engine would be no thicker than the page on which it rested. The Washington State University researchers who created it believe the P3 has the potential to one day replace the batteries that power electric devices.

To operate, the P3 needs only an external heat source, such as   a burning fuel, the sun, a wood stove, waste heat from electronics, or even body heat. The … » More …

Fall 2004

Spray-cooling

Military adopts ISR technology in aircraft, ground vehicles

For reliability, advanced electronics need to be maintained at a stable temperature. This isn’t always possible in extreme military conditions. Isothermal Systems Research (ISR) has found one solution that’s winning awards and military contracts: spray-cooling.

Mechanical engineer Don Tilton developed the technology for a self-enclosed spray-cooling chassis about the size of a small microwave oven. A chemical liquid inside is sprayed onto electronics, dissipating heat on circuit boards and processors through evaporation, keeping the electronics at a stable, uniform temperature. In June 2003, the Defense Department gave ISR a Value Engineering Achievement Award in Washington, D.C., for … » More …