Trade Study Trees Analysis

I’m currently taking an MIT course in Architecture of Complex Systems. During the course, we consider trade studies at an individual alternatives basis as well as an overall system planning basis using Trade Trees. Take a look at this we-explained use of Trade Trees at NASA.

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Aerial Recovery

In association with the Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS), BYU “Aerial Recovery project studies the retrieval strategies for Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) which are unable to return home by themselves.”BYU Aerial Recovery

For more information see,

(Image displayed at BYU, Clyde Building, Provo, Utah)


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Gift Engineering Stories to your young colleagues or friends

Do you know an engineering student, or recent graduate of engineering? Gift the book, “Engineering Stories,” to them to let them experience engineering right now and give them a head start in understanding what it’s like to work on a real project with a real engineering team. Order, “Engineering Stories,” at the following link.

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Polaris Station (Scene PS:1A:S1)

P1A_S1R1_Fotor(Year 2049 – The Lunar Marius Hills)

Was it made by man, or by the universe? Was it reflective, clear-through, or opaque? Was it friendly, or filled with death? What ever it was, it approached from deep space and passed along the lunar horizon reflecting the sun toward the astronauts at the Marius Hills volcanic domes.

“Site Comm?”

“Yes, commander?”

“Notify the crew. Shut down the 3D Hab Printers. Take a break and invite all to the surface to see…”

“To see what, sir?”

“Just get everyone to the surface. And send up the rocket-drone to get an elevated video.”

Those already on the surface became suddenly still in wonder at the piercing light that crossed the black sky, adding contrast to the rilles on the Oceanus Procellarum. Worker radio traffic saturated with word of the object, then went silent, replaced by heart beats, and an unfamiliar faint static. Some captured the sight with their personal helmet cams, others just lowered their solar visors and took in the moment. Construction astronauts in the lava tube cavern emerged on the crane elevator. Like star gazers on Earth admiring the diamond glow of their first solar eclipse at totality, the construction site stood nearly motionless as the object passed toward the inner solar system. When the static was gone and the object disappeared into the brightness of the sun, workers eyes drifted a few degrees to the Earth, nearly invisible within it’s own shadow, the night lights illuminating from Brazil, New York, and London.

One worker was heard to say, “What if it hits Earth?”

Another replied, “Can they see it from home?”

And yet another, “What if it had hit the Moon?”

“Site Comm?”

“Yes commander?”

“Make and entry in the space weather log.”

“Will do sir.”

“And ask NASA if that was a refuse canister from Mars, or another comet.”

“Already looked it up sir. Astronomers are speculating it’s another Kreutz sun-grazer. Just like the one 3 months ago, it likely orbits the sun every several hundred years and is expected to pass within a few thousand kilometers of the sun.”

Like they had done over and over, each took advantage of the moment on the surface, admired the majesty of Earth, and the singularity of their situation, then they returned to work on the subterranean lunar habitats. The commander lingered for a moment, his eyes settling on Earth’s Pacific Coast where the sun was setting and darkness moved ever slowly across the sphere, west from Nevada to California. Standing on the lava tube rim, a few hundred feed above the base of the cavern, hand on a safety railing, the commander looked again at Earth, imagined standing on the top of one of his favorite places, Yosemite’s Half Dome, imagining the view from there, the sun setting to the west, and the nearly full moon rising in the East, the very moon on which he now stood.

(To be continued)

STEM and Science Fiction Prototyping (#SciFiProto) Questions:

1) What is a Kreutz sun grazer?

2) What are the benefits and dangers of using lunar lava tubes as human habitats?

3) What personal and commercial technologies might exist in 2049 for use by construction astronauts?

4) What changes would you make to this scene?

(Story and illustration by Kenneth R. Hardman. “REC” overlay on illustration by Fodor Photo Editor)

#EngineerClips #NASA #Boeing #STEM #themartian #SciFiProto (science fiction prototyping)

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The rumors are true

“Okay everyone, listen-up.” Brandon leaned forward bringing the Monday morning staff meeting to attention. “The rumors are true.”“Oh no.” Melissa thought, arms crossed, hands gripping her upper arms. “Was everyone against hiring me?”

Brandon, middle-aged with brown hair, was the engineering manager at International Custom Automation (ICA), reputable creators of special robotic machines. Each Monday, the Automation Group met in a small conference room on the third floor.

“The good news is,” Brandon continued, “the board of directors approved launching their new smart phone. The bad news…”

(Read Get a Grip, in Engineering Stories)

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The Orbital Mechanic in STEM Magazine

Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 8.15.26 PMDear Engineering Stories readers, I am pleased that one of my engineering stories, “The Orbital Mechanic” is published in STEM Magazine and will be available to a large STEM and educator audience. Check it out and please encourage your friends and colleagues to follow Engineering Stories. Here is the link to STEM Magazine. See, “The Orbital Mechanic” on page 32. Best Regards, Ken Hardman

Please share the Jan. issue of STEM Magazine
For HTML5 users:
Special “Football” STEM edition for Superbowl Sunday
Wayne Carley

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Call for New Draft Novelette Readers

Dear followers of Engineering Stories,

Thank you for your support to my short stories. Now, help me take my next step in the world of engineering stories by volunteering to read the draft of my new novelette, Polaris Station. It’s hard science fiction (theoretically possible) placed in the near future on and around planet Earth. Meet Kendall Parker, ambitious and arrogant, but bold and believing in his concept for dual-polar-geo-stationary space stations for solar and Earth observation. Find out the cost of failure as his outpost almost crashes to the Earth by the secret works of extremists and technical controversy ending his dream, his life, and his family. It’s about a 60 minute reading and I hope it will have you dreaming of real engineering possibilities in space. I’d like to test my storytelling and get your specific suggestions for better character development, story structure, description, and compelling scientific punch. Please reply and volunteer to read the story and give me feedback. As payment for very helpful suggestions, when it goes to print, I will give a free paperback copy of the book to the 10 reviewers whose comments are most useful.

If interested, contact me at

My best regards, Kenneth Hardman

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Coaches, Cars, and Character

Here is one of my favorites. Enjoy the short read.

Engineering Stories

Team after team, the endurance race pressed on. No car came anywhere close to beating us. Hopes were high. But when it was all over, the maroon and white competitors from Texas had the highest overall score, and my team, the boys in blue took second in the annual hybrid race car competition.

“Not next year.” Stephen, our team rookie, sulked out loud.

Lance, the team captan glared at Stephen, then with a disappointed but knowing grin, he looked over at the coach and said. “Was I really like that last year?”

“You’ve come a long way,” the coach responded, his face changing from concerned to encouraged as he also looked at Stephen then back to Lance. “I expect to hear great things about you’re career.”

Most crews went over to congratulate the winning team. “Great design! Impressive driving. I’d love to see your finite element analysis for your suspension.”

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Reading for Pleasure – by Henry Petroski

(an excerpt from ASEE Prism – Refractions)

“Engineering and fiction seem polar opposites, but several recently published novels may encourage the reading and writing of more tales about engineers–and perhaps generate wider appreciation of their work. Even when based on real events, engineering stories can be stimulating. Here is a sampling of the riveting reads I enjoyed over the past year:…

Engineering Stories: Realistic Fiction in STEM is an engaging collection of short stories that involve engineers tackling real-world design problems. Author Kenneth R. Hardman, a registered professional engineer working in the aerospace industry, uses the narrative form effectively to explain the nature of engineering and design. He hopes that teachers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics will use his stories to inspire students to explore engineering as a college major and career…”

(by Henry Petroski, from Reading for Pleasure, Refractions, Prism, ASEE, January 2014.

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Watching humans set foot on the moon fixed an engineer’s passion to go farther

Dear Engineering friends, please read this man’s journey and passion for engineering.

A Boeing Technical Fellow – A world away

“The more challenge I get, the better I get…” (Kauser Imtiaz, Boeing Innovation Quarterly)

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