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Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research (HYPER) Laboratory Cool. Fuel.

How to have a meeting

Meetings are the most basic and fundamental form of information exchange in any society, perhaps in all of humanity. Once we developed the ability to talk, having meetings was next, before we could read or write. Yet, thinking back to my education as an engineer, not once do I remember being taught explicit skills for how to have an effective meeting. I’m not aware of a single continuous improvement exercise focusing on effective meetings in my time at WSU. It’s always assumed we have the skills to run a meeting. At the same time it’s commonly assumed that meetings are a waste of time. So … » More …

Cryogenic Hydrogen Embrittlement

There is a reason the HYPER lab is the only academic research lab in the US focused on cryogenic hydrogen: it’s hard.

Recall that hydrogen:

has the largest flammability limits of any gas (4-94% in air by volume).
has a very low energy barrier for combustion in air (a grain of sand in a jet has enough kinetic energy to ignite).
has the highest combustion energy of any fuel by mass (119.96 MJ/kg).
has one of the lowest boiling points of any fluid (boils near -421°F), highest thermal conductivities, and the highest latent heat (energy required to boil the fluid) per … » More …

ME 406 Lecture 13: E-mails, Resumes, and Work Portfolios

It was a revelation. It was so simple. How could I have waited until graduate school to read this?

I called my dad to see if he knew about it. “Oh ya, your mom and I both attended trainings by him when before you were born. Definitely influenced how we raised you.”

If I had one piece of advice for learning to communicate and be successful in your careers it would be to read Dale Carnegie’s classic, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”  Here’s an excerpt about writing a letter:

Dear Mr. Vermylen,

Your company has been one of our good customers for … » More …

Initial Conditions

Where do you look when you walk into a space for the very first time?

The majority will look down at the floor to make sure you don’t trip and hurt yourself.

The architect who designed the space looked down too, at the plans and scale models.

But do you ever look up? In the place nobody tends to look? Did they think about this place that nobody tends to look? This place, that nobody tends to look, is it a blind spot?

You might ask yourself several more questions:

Where am I and is this place safe? (Survival)
Who’s here? (Tribal)
» More …

The Iconic Palouse List

We’ve all been in the room when that one Husky fan blurted out, “I don’t know why anyone would go to the Palouse. It’s a desert.” Or that one new department chair that said, “I’ve seen what the region has to offer,” before quickly leaving. For everyone else, who are still open to discovery, this list is for you.

Before we start the list let’s get our bearings straight. The Palouse is the local name for a distinct climate region in Southeastern Washington characterized by low grassy hills. The origin of the regional name ‘Palouse’ is unknown. It literally translates in French to a … » More …

How to reliably get brilliant teams

… build them!

Talk to any researcher and they’ll go on ad nauseum to explain their philosophy for building brilliant teams. It’s just the next step after how to reliably get brilliant students. So why am I adding to the noise with this post? Because when you’re in the middle of building something great, it’s easy to get side tracked and forget your core values and principles; whatever they be.

Think back about the amazing teams you’ve been fortunate to be a part of over the years. Several key factors were likely involved:

Contrasting and complimentary characters — think the A team, Star Trek, … » More …

The test of time — to reach someone

Now that we have a framework for both social thermodynamics in equilibrium and in non-equilibrium transport we have an interesting opportunity to test the consistency of both through the time domain. This is enabled by the correlation between thermodynamic and transport properties — one of the greatest unsolved challenges in thermophysical properties is a direct derivation of transport properties from thermodynamic properties. Only recently has the residual entropy — the entropy that emerges due to real fluid intermolecular exchanges — been shown to be a powerful scaling tool to help with this challenge. This observation seams obvious in social space as the empathy that emerges … » More …

How non-equilibrium transport leads to social structures

“Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling workhorse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function and this is the law.” — Louis Sullivan 1896
How Thermodynamic Laws Shape Structures
The challenge any engineer faces is the optimal form for a design. Why is a try shaped like a tree? And why does this look like a river delta, or a lung, or a neuron?

In the 1990’s mechanical engineering professor Adrian Bejan developed the “Constructal Law of … » More …

Social Efficiencies

Several friends have been asking me to comment on a recent article from Wired Magazine titled, “The Genius Neuroscientist Who May Hold the Secret to True AI.” The article is about Karl Friston’s “Free energy principle” which is essentially that the purpose of life is to minimize the free energy — defined qualitatively as the difference between your expectations and your sensory inputs. The secret, according to the article, is applying thermodynamic principles to intelligence. For any of you following these posts that comes as no surprise. The timing of this article is convenient as I’ve been waiting for awhile now to write what … » More …