A Message From the President

Dear IFToMM Friends:

As IFToMM has come of age and the XX Century comes to an end, while a new century appears full of expectations of what lies ahead in terms of technological developments, it is time to analyze where we stand and where we are heading. A sign of this concern is the discussion that arose spontaneously during the last meeting of the EC, held in Udine on June 29th and 30th, 1996: at the core of the discussion was the question of whether ``Theory of Machines and Mechanisms'' is a suitable name for our discipline. Be sure that we will be addressing this fundamental question in the forthcoming EC meetings. Any input in this regard from the IFToMM community to the EC is most welcome.

IFToMM was born in the sixties, at a time of intensive research prompted to a great extent by the space race. But the nineties are quite different from the sixties, and what we have now is unforeseen developments that have redefined the conditions of education and research in all disciplines certainly, but with TMM counting itself among those that have been most dramatically impacted. The technological development that has affected TMM most remarkably is probably the information revolution. Indeed, activities that were niches of TMM are increasingly becoming heavily dependent on electronics more so than on mechanisms. For example, modern commercial aircraft is currently being designed with systems that rely on electronic signal transmission, thus doing away with the linkages that were used to transmit motion from the pilot's hands to the ailerons and the rudder. A bastion of TMM, the cam-actuated valve mechanism of internal combustion engines, is being ``threatened'' by electronics as well, according to a recent issue (August 1996) of ``Spectrum'', the official magazine of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. One more example is the ``swashplate'' of helicopters, which is reportedly (ASME's Mechanical Engineering vol. 18, September 1996) being ``threatened'' by a ``solid-state adaptive rotor''. The examples abound.

In summary, what we are witnessing is a steady loss of the high profile that our discipline enjoyed in the sixties and the seventies, mostly because of the impact that electronics has had in areas of transportation and production-automation, among others, which were niches of TMM. As a consequence, a steady disappearance of mechanism courses in the core curriculum of mechanical engineering is taking place not only in North America, but also in many European countries. This situation, along with the scarcity of research funds targeted to TMM, is a major concern for us all working in TMM. At the recent 24th Biennial Mechanisms Conference of ASME International, held in Irvine, California, from August 18th to August 22nd, there was a remarkable decrease in the number of participants, as compared with previous conferences. At the same conference, an informal workshop was held to analyze the state of mechanisms education, research, and development in North America. Although no solutions were formulated in that workshop, there seemed to be a consensus in that new directions must be found for our discipline to keep the technological relevance that it enjoyed in the last century and most of the current one.

In light of the technological developments anticipated for the upcoming century, it is important that we analyze the directions in which TMM is evolving. The Kazakhstani Committee on TMM organized a Symposium from October 7th to October 9th, 1996, to analyze these issues. Their report on the symposium will be a valuable item in our search for a definition of directions in which we should evolve as a community of specialists. It is imperative that we define these directions if we are to participate in the technological developments that lie ahead as actors and not only as spectators. This is why I suggested in the last issue of this Newsletter to undertake a worldwide study on the state of the discipline and our views as to how it should evolve. It appears that mechanisms as we knew them up until the seventies are no longer enough to solve technological problems. We need to merge with other disciplines such as electronics and computer science. IFToMM is prepared to face the technological revolution that we are living, for we have created technical committees that anticipate the forthcoming changes, mainly the newest ones: TC on Computational Kinematics; TC on Mechatronics; TC on Micromechanisms; and TC on Nonlinear Oscillations. By the same token, we have to review the pertinence of the oldest technical committees and try to update them. With the aim of compiling input from all national committees, I suggested in our last issue to produce a report to which I gave the provisory title of TMM21.

This fall I sent letters to the Chairs of all national members asking them to let me know if they believe that this undertaking is worth the effort and, if they believe so, to let me know of a contact person that would serve as a liaison between that national committee and the Task Force that we are forming inside the IFToMM Executive Council. I am glad to report that several Chairs have already replied, some have even reported the formation of a national Task Force. A roster of contact persons should be available early in 1997.

Updates on developments regarding TMM21 will be available through the Internet, as per the Editor's Message below.

In keeping with our tradition, let me wish you all a peaceful and enjoyable holiday season, and a happy new year. With my best regards, Jorge Angeles, IFToMM President

From the Editor

Dear IFToMM Friends:

As you may well understand, wearing two hats within IFToMM is becoming an increasingly demanding job. For this reason, I proposed to the Executive Council (EC) in its 29th meeting, held in Udine, Italy, on June 29th and 30th, that a replacement be sought for the editing of the Newsletter. My concrete proposal was to appoint temporarily a Communications Officer, with the aim of establishing afterwards a Permanent Commission on Communications, whose Chair would be responsible mainly for the editing of the Newsletter. Obviously, my proposal does not intend to increase the number of positions within our EC. Creating a PC on Communications, which requires a constitutional change, should be well thought out and regarded as an enhancement of an existing PC, e.g., the one on Conferences. The EC wisely recommended that I seek a Communications Officer within the current EC, which I started doing. While it is understandably difficult to find a volunteer, I have received an offer to give it a try, but the appointment will be disclosed after all details are finalized. We will keep you informed on developments.

Otherwise, I am glad to report that the IFToMM Home Page is now a reality. Our readers are invited to visit us at

Readers who currently receive the Newsletter postscript file via Email are now receiving the Home Page WWW address instead. The Home Page includes not only the current issue of the Newsletter, but also information of general interest, like the list of IFToMM Executives and of Chairs of Technical Committees, Permanent Commissions, and National Committees. Besides, we are including the Constitution and By-Laws, which we believe our visitors will find useful.

We hope that having IFToMM on-line will help bring us even closer, and make IFToMM's governance more effective.

You will find in this issue, besides the Message from the President, a Report from the Secretary-General, which, along with this message, is included in the four official languages. May I bring to your attention a new organizational scheme of the World Congress that will rely on the TCs and PCs for sessions, while keeping the National Committees in charge of the first abstract selection. This scheme is outlined in the Secretary-General's Report.

In the monolingual part of this issue, you will find an entry from Prof. J. Davidson, Arizona State University, Tempe, commenting on the issues discussed during the workshop on the status of TMM in North America, in Irvine, California, during the 24th ASME Biennial Conference on Mechanisms.

Attached you will also find an updated mailing list of IFToMM officers and our regular list of conferences. In the Obituaries Section we remember our colleagues who passed away since the last issue.

One item that I want to bring to your attention is our concern regarding the use of of PC (politically correct) language. In this light, you will notice that we are using the gender-neutral ``Chair'', rather than the gender-biased ``Chairman''. This issue was raised in the last meeting of the EC in Udine. Past-President Morecki offered to bring this matter to the attention of the Chair of the TC on Man-Machine Systems, Prof. Kedzior.

Finally, the work of Irène Cartier, Associate Editor, and that of our four translators of this issue, Ms. Svetlana Ostrovskaya (translation into Russian), Messrs. Christian Lange and Karsten Freischem (translation into German), and Dr. Jean-Pierre Merlet (translation into French), are given due acknowledgment. Dr.  Thierry Baron, a Research Engineer at the Centre for Intelligent Machines (CIM) of McGill University, who set up the IFToMM Home Page, is gratefully acknowledged.

Jorge Angeles, Editor

A Report from the Secretary-General

The IFToMM Executive Council held its 29th Annual Meeting on June 29th and 30th, 1996 in Udine, Italy. Prof. Bianchi, Past IFToMM President, is to be thanked for having arranged that CISM play, once more, host to the IFToMM EC at its Palazzo del Torso headquarters. Sixteen members were present in the meeting.

The EC decided to establish a TC on Transportation Machinery, after studying independent proposals that were submitted by the US and Mexican National Committees. Professor Bahram Ravani was the proponent from the USA and Prof. Carlos S. López-Cajún was the proponent from Mexico. Prof. Ravani was chosen as Chair and Prof. López-Cajún as Vice Chair of this new TC, that will officially be inaugurated in 1997, during the renewal of TC and PC Chairs. All those interested in joining this new TC should contact either Prof. Ravani or Prof. López-Cajún.

Professor Tatu Leinonen, as Chair of the National Committee of Finland, reported on the interest of his Committee and other ones, to establish a TC on Tribology. The EC was favourable inclined to this initiative and gave the mandate to Prof. Leinonen to continue discussions with all those interested.

EC records showed that the terms as PC and TC Chairs will finish at the end of 1997. Therefore, the PCs and TCs will be asked to submit proposals for the new Chairs to the EC before April 1st, 1997 by means of a letter to the Secretary-General.

The plan for the next four years presented by President J. Angeles was accepted. The plan was published in the IFToMM Newsletter issue of December 1995.

The 10th World Congress on TMM will take place in June 20-24, 1999 in Oulu, Finland. Professor Tatu Leinonen reported that planning of the congress has started and a National Organization Committee was set up. Rooms have been reserved and funds for arrangements have been requested from the Academy of Finland and industry. The congress arrangements are on schedule.

The topics of the congress will be basically the same as in 1995, with some additions added to the program. The topics will include

  • Kinematic analysis and synthesis of mechanisms
  • Dynamics of machines
  • Gearing and transmissions
  • Rotor dynamics
  • Vibration and noise in machines
  • Biomechanisms
  • Robots, manipulators, and walking machines
  • Man-machine systems
  • Micromechanisms
  • Mechatronics
  • Linkages and cams
  • CAD of machines and mechanisms
  • Tribology
  • Experimental methods
  • Teaching methods
  • Computational Kinematics
  • Transportation Machinery
It was decided that PCs and TCs be requested not to organize independent workshops or symposia in 1999, while including all in the World Congress in 1999. The Scientific Committee has not been set, but the PCs and TCs will evaluate the papers beforehand. The arrangements for paper reviews are as follows:

  1. Abstracts are sent to the National Committees, which will make the first evaluation. Each National Committee will propose to which PC or TC the paper belongs.

  2. The Congress Chair will ask authors of accepted papers to submit their full paper in due time.

  3. The final evaluation, based on the full paper, will be made by the corresponding PC or TC.

  4. The Congress Chair will announce the result of the evaluation to each author.

The EC discussed new possible member countries, such as Estonia, Korea, Georgia, Singapore, Sweden, and Ukraina. It was decided that Prof. Y. Hori will contact Asian countries, while the Secretary General will contact the other countries. Prof. J. Angeles offered to start promoting National Committees in Central and South America. New members are encouraged to apply for IFToMM membership.

Tatu Leinonen Secretary General of IFToMM

The Health of TMM

At Jorge's suggestion relative to his theme TMM21, I have put on paper some thoughts and questions about the future of mechanism as a subject. I apologize for this being so short on facts, but perhaps whatever usefulness it has should be measured with the issues that it raises. One important aspect of the whole thing, in my mind, is keeping clear the distinctions between this problem in IFToMM and this problem in ASME. Although there clearly is overlap, I think that there are differences too.

By what metric do we measure the health of mechanism?

First to attendance at conferences. Are our IFToMM conferences really threatened by declining numbers? What are the attendance figures for the past three to five IFToMM conferences? We need the facts. My own perception is that we are holding steady or increasing! Based on the number of papers in the proceedings, there clearly is an increase. However, some percentage of authors do not show so that some papers are not presented. I started to count papers in recent proceedings, but I think that the only real measure of health is the number of people who attend the conferences. The matter is different with ASME. Attendance there has developed a cyclic trend lately: the 1986 conference had a low attendance and a lower number of papers after several conferences of growing numbers, growth picked up again until at least 1992, but then the number of papers at the conferences has declined somewhat. I do not have attendance figures. What is happening in other countries that hold mechanisms conferences?

A second issue that relates to the health of our subject is funding for mechanisms research. It is declining in the USA, but I do not know the figures for other countries around the world. But how much is the right amount? I recall the qualitative results of a study that my major professor undertook many years ago to determine the relative importance of an engineering discipline. He obtained his data from informal interviews with vice presidents of engineering at leading companies. Importance of a discipline was based on the percent of engineering time that was devoted to it in solving problems in industry. His qualitative conclusions (I do not remember the quantitative values any more): stress analysis and structural design problems consume the most engineering time, dynamics & vibrations problems the next largest, and kinematics problems in design & analysis are utilized the least. (I do not ever remember hearing of figures for the thermal sciences.) It seems to me that this measure of importance is probably the most convincing one to use in assessing how much research support is proper. Perhaps it is the same measure that we should use to determine the relative numbers of faculty at a university devoted to the disciplines. But where is our research funding now relative to this measure? This is where some better facts would be useful. Support for mechanisms research in the USA has never been very high. My own perception is that 10 to 20 years ago we might have been receiving about what we would be due according to the above measure of importance, but now it seems we are receiving less.

A somewhat different monetary measure of the importance of a discipline is the portion of gross domestic product (GDP) that is devoted to society's grappling with it. About 10 years or so ago, Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus [Ohio] was commissioned to determine the overall annual cost of fracture of all types. They included costs to design parts to prevent fatigue and brittle fractures, costs to repair things that fractured, legal and insurance settlements arising from fractured parts, everything. Result: for the 1982 calendar year, fracture cost us 4% of gross national product (we did not use GDP then) in the USA. To my knowledge no such study has ever been done for mechanisms, but I am sure that the result would be a number that is one or two orders of magnitude less. So, these measures of importance of our discipline are facts that we cannot change. Perhaps I am wrong at the end of the last paragraph, and the health of our field has been extraordinary over the past 20 years, all brought on by the extraordinary availability of research funds. And perhaps now we are simply going back to the more normal state of affairs for it. If this is so, is it a waste of effort to resist the change?

Some people think that a good tie to practical devices is a measure of health for a subject. There is little evidence of industry participation in either IFToMM or the ASME Mechanisms Conferences, aside from the book publishers. True, [Dr.-Ing. Hongyou] Lee [a.k.a. Li] brought some robot components and brochures to IFToMM in Milan, but Lee is an exception. He is a theoretician who ended up in industry. A few representatives from industry came to the recent ASME Mechanisms Conference in Irvine California in 1996. (There were six conferences held simultaneously; the Mechanisms Conference was one of these.) I asked one attendee, from Hewlett Packard, about which subject was of most interest to his company. Answer: Design Theory & Methodology (DTM). This fellow has a strong interest in mechanisms, but when it comes to finding something at a series of design conferences to carry home to the boss, DTM develops the highest interest. What goes on at conferences of the VDI [Germany], I Mech E [UK], JSME [Japan], and other societies? To my own memory, the 1983 World Congress on TMM in Delhi had the greatest recent participation by industry, at least in terms of exhibits.

A few technical subjects get industry participation. Consider, for instance, gearing in the USA. A colleague of mine in the gearing field tells me that about 2/3 of attendees to the 1989 and 1992 gearing conferences (American Gear Manufacturers Association) were from industry or government laboratories. These conferences seem consistently well attended. If industry participation in a field be a measure of health for it, why is industry participation so much stronger in gearing than in mechanism? Could it be that they have a product? We have certainly ridden the robotic products well over the last 20 years. And what are the figures of industrial participation at mechanisms or gearing conferences in Europe and Asia? Of course, IFToMM includes gearing. Should IFToMM seek stronger partication by industrial representatives? Since we are now so strongly academic, perhaps this question among ourselves has no meaning.

What products could we attach ourselves to, presuming that this were our desire? Perhaps the variable speed drives, like the device that has four four-bar linkages in parallel dragging a shaft around its axis with Sprag couplings? Or some of these devices where a friction ball transmits motion and force between a couple of rotating plates or between a cone and a ring? Machine Design Magazine describes some of these in one of its Reference issues. What are the annual revenues from such products? Small, I imagine. Then, what about the legged construction machines in Europe? These certainly are great for the subjects of robotics, mechatronics, etc. For IFToMM, European businesses are fair game. But revenues from these machines are again small relative to the total sales of engineered products. And then there are all those mechanisms that operate in little gadgets that are diffused over so many consumer and industrial products, e.g. folding chairs and lawn furniture, tray tables on some aircraft, tools in the hardware store, and so on.

For the variable-speed drives, the technical problems of design and manufacturing are likely tribology and the occasional new design. The legged vehicles contribute kinematics, statics, control, mechatronics. Most technical problems of the other products are pretty mundane, I think. So, if we attached ourselves strongly to products (the above or some other ones), what would happen to our conferences and the tenor of our research? I suspect that their quality (based on what we now consider as quality) would go down. Perhaps we would prefer to simply shrink in size and maintain quality?

Certainly, if we feel that the product thrust is a partial solution, IFToMM could arrange several sessions (perhaps four?) at the next Congress that are directed toward products. Perhaps we could then attract more industry types in attendance. Most large and mid-sized companies in the US are managed by financial types, so this probably would not work for ASME. However, in Europe and Japan there are a lot of technically capable people in management. They read technical papers, and they could benefit from such sessions.

Well, I have raised several issues. I certainly do not have all the facts to back up some of my impressions, but the above comments do bear, I think, on the charge that Jorge has put before us. I only hope that these remarks might stimulate a filling in of the facts, still further consideration from others in the community, and additional ideas.

Prof. J. K. Davidson
Arizona State University, Tempe, USA

New Journal

Professor Werner Schielen, Institute B of Mechanics of the University of Stuttgart, Germany, has just announced a new journal, to be published by Kluwer. Multibody System Dynamics is to report original contributions describing significant developments of different topics in multibody system dynamics through a single journal. Mathematical foundations, numerical procedures, experimental results, software development and applications of this field are of interest to the readers.

Multibody System Dynamics includes theoretical and computational methods in rigid and flexible multibody systems, their applications and experimental procedures used to validate the theoretical foundations. The research reported in this journal addresses the issues of new formulations, solution algorithms, computational efficiency, analytical and computational kinematics, synthesis, flexibility effects, control, optimization, real-time simulation, parallel computations, workspace and path planning, reliability and durability. Fields such as vehicle dynamics, aerospace technology, robotics and mechatronics, machine dynamics, crashworthiness, biomechanics, computer graphics or system identification are also covered by the journal if the treated topic is related with multibody system dynamics.

Manuscripts are to be submitted to the Co-Editor, Prof. Jorge Ambrósio at: Multibody System Dynamics. IDMEC/IST. Instituto Superior Técnico. Av. Rovisco Pais. 1906 Lisboa, Portugal. Tel: +351-1-8417-680. Fax: +351-1-8417-915. jorge@lemac.ist.utl.pt

More on Journals

While it is encouraging to read about new journals of interest to the IFToMM community, it is quite discouraging to learn of other journals that were launched rather recently and that have had an unfortunate fate. A case in point is Machine Vibration, which was launched in 1992. Prof. D. Gorman, University of Aberdeen, UK, has just announced the termination of this journal, at least in its present form. An effort is being made to keep publishing it in electronic form. We will keep our readers informed of whether this effort will actually lead to an electronic journal. While the fate of a journal is obviously influenced by market conditions, it is also true that current budgetary cuts experienced by many libraries are bound to impact the life of journals. We the IFToMM community cannot ignore this state of affairs because IFToMM has its own official journal, Mechanism and Machine Theory, and hence, is vulnerable to budgetary cuts experienced by libraries. This Editor is glad to convey Prof. Shoup's report to the EC in its last meeting, showing that Mechanism and Machine Theory is in good shape. We have to keep supporting Prof. Shoup in his effort; with this, we will be supporting our journal and our Federation. A journal is no longer to be taken for granted!


  • Riffard, V., 1995, Accessibilité d'un Opérateur Humain en Environnement Très Contraint--Placement Optimal et Postures, Ecole Centrale de Nantes, France. La thèse porte sur la résolution du problème de placement optimal d'un opérateur humain dans un environnement encombré par des obstacles modélisés comme des sphères rigides. L'opérateur est modélisé, à son tour, comme un système polyarticulé de maillons rigides couplés par des articulations rotoïdes. La tâche de placement est décrite en terme d'un repère-cible, où doit être placé un repère fixé à l'organe terminal (OT) de l'opérateur. L'OT peut être soit la main de l'opérateur, soit un outil, par exemple, un tourne-vis, attaché à la main de l'opérateur. Le problème est considéré résolu quand on trouve une posture de l'opérateur qui comporte une erreur minimum entre le placement du repère cible et celui du repère attaché à l'OT, tout en évitant les interférences avec les obstacles gênant l'environnement. Par la même occasion, lesdits obstacles peuvent être des pièces d'une machine, par exemple, le train d'atterrissage d'un avion, ou même des machines et pièces de fabrication dans un atelier flexible. Quoiqu'il en soit, l'auteur considère dans la thèse que les obstacles sont immobilisés dans l'environnement en question.
  • Vargas, C., 1995, Modélisation du Processus de Conception en Ingénierie des Systèmes Mécaniques, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan, France. Cette thèse s'intéresse à la modélisation du processus de conception d'organes mécaniques. Les principales contributions de la thèse sont comme suit : (a) proposition d'une approche globale de l'activité de conception, (b) proposition d'un formalisme du modèle du processus de conception, (c) proposition d'un langage de description du modèle du processus, et (d) proposition de mécanismes d'optimisation et de recherche de solutions, permettant une conception guidée, lors de l'exploitation dynamique du modèle du processus de conception. Enfin, l'auteur illustre les concepts ci-dessus à l'aide d'un cas concret, la conception d'une culasse automobile.
  • Tancredi, L., 1995, De la Simplification et la Résolution du Modèle Géométrique Direct des Robots Parallèles, Ecole Nationale de Mines de Paris. L'auteur présente dans cette thèse des contributions intéressantes vers la résolution du problème de modélisation géométrique dit directe des manipulateurs à plate-formes et à architectures quelconques. L'utilisation de capteurs pour obtenir des estimations de la position d'au moins un point de la plate-forme mobile permet de trouver des bornes sur le nombre de solutions, ainsi que leurs conditions d'obtention. En outre, une approche se basant sur la géométrie dite synthétique est introduite, qui apporte des résultats plus généraux. Enfin, à l'aide des méthodes algébriques assez puissantes, telles que les bases de Gröbner, et numériques, telles que l'homotopie, l'auteur arrive à trouver les 24 postures réélles et distinctes d'un manipulateur parallèle assez général.
  • Nilsson, K., 1996, Industrial Robot Programming, Department of Automatic Control, Lund Institute of Technology, Sweden. A thesis oriented toward the solution of automation problems arising in the manufacturing industry. Its aim is to produce open-architecture systems for motion control. An interesting feature is the user interface developed for off-line robot simulation with an on-line connection to the actual robot, located in a different department, 100 m away. The robot is observed via a video interface to a Sun workstation close to the robot and linked to the X-server of a Silicon Graphics workstation running IGRIP. Both the IGRIP-generated model and the actual robot are viewed on different windows on the SGI workstation.
  • Tischler, C. R., 1995, Alternative Structures for Robot Hands, The University of Melbourne, Australia. The author reports the design and analysis of a novel mechanical finger that departs from the established anthropomorphic tendon-driven paradigm. The proposed finger is based on a three-degree-of-freedom parallel manipulator of the platform type. The advantages of the proposed finger over conventional tendon-driven fingers, are discussed in the thesis.


  • CSME, 1996, From Steam to Space: Contributions of Mechanical Engineering to Canadian Development, Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering, Ottawa. This is a commemorative volume of the 25th Anniversary of CSME. It compiles various essays edited by Andrew H. Wilson, Chairman of CSME's History Committee, with the assistance of Mounir Massoud and Anne Moran. The volume is divided into two parts. In the first part, an account is given of specific contributions of Canadians to mechanical engineering, such as the development of gas turbines, black-liquor technology, and the hybrid electric vehicle, among others; this part also includes six essays on mechanical engineering education across Canada. The second part includes various essays on the history of the Society, which was established in 1970, as the offspring of the Engineering Institute of Canada. Although the Editor had originally the plan to include essays in Canada's two official languages, contributions in French are conspicuously absent. Copies are available from CSME at 405A-130 Slater Street. Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6E2, Canada. Fax: +1-613-230-9607.
  • Duffy, J., 1996, Statics and Kinematics with Applications to Robotics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (UK.) The book is devoted to the kinetostatic analysis of planar mechanisms, including multi-degree-of-freedom manipulators of the parallel type. The kinetostatic duality is stressed, and spring systems in this kind of systems are for the first time analyzed in a book.
  • Angeles, J., 1996, Fundamentals of Robotic Mechanical Systems, Springer-Verlag, New York. The kinematics and dynamics foundations of robotic mechanical systems are extensively studied in this book, that focuses on manipulators of the serial type in the first six chapters. In the last chapters, other robotic systems are studied, namely, parallel manipulators, and rolling robots. The application of the fundamentals developed in the first part are highlighted in the second part with examples taken from multifingered hands and walking machines. The well-known hand-eye calibration problem is discussed and a simple solution is proposed for its solution, requiring simple linear-equation solving. Also discussed is the problem of determining the angular velocity and acceleration of a rigid body when the position, velocity, and acceleartion vectors of three noncollinear points of the body are known.
  • Wolfram, S., 1996, The Mathematica Book, Third Edition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. This 1400-pp. edition is a highly detailed introduction to Mathematica from its author.
  • Meirovitch, L., 1997, Principles and Techniques of Vibrations, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey (USA). As the author himself indicates, this book draws the best from his previous book (Meirovitch, L., 1967, Analytical Methods of Vibrations, Macmillan, Toronto.) The material is intended for a graduate course on vibration analysis and ``reflects the significant progress made in the treatment of discrete systems and in approximate techniques for distributed systems. The most noteworthy of the latter is the inclusion of a chapter on the finite element method.''
  • Tongue, B. H., 1996, Principles of Vibration, Oxford University Press, New York-Oxford. Written in a rather informal, lecture-type of style, this book is a new addition to the rich literature on vibration analysis for undergraduates.

von Mises' Motor Calculus in English

The classical work of Richard von Mises on motor calculus, that has remained in the realm of the German literature on mechanics, has just been translated into English by E. J. Baker, University of New South Wales, Australia, and K. Wohlhart, Technische Universität Graz, Austria. The translation is available in paperback form as

  • von Mises, R., 1996, Motor Calculus. A New Theoretical Device for Mechanics, Institut für Mechanik, TU Graz, Austria.

A motor, as pointed out by Jack Phillips, University of Sydney, Australia, is the synthesis of two words, ``moment'' and ``vector''. The word was coined by Clifford in his ``Preliminary Sketch of Quaternions'' (1873), and used by von Mises in the sense given to it by Study in his ``Geometrie der Dynamen'' (1903.) In this sense, a motor is an ordered pair of straight lines. As the translators say in their Preface, ``The main advantage of motor calculus ... is that it allows one to express geometric, kinematic, and dynamic equations in the most transparent and compact form. The information density of a representative formula is the highest possible, and so motor calculus contributes significantly to Mach's economy of thought.''

This limited edition was fully financed by the TU Graz.

News from the USA

The Freudenstein/General Motors Young Investigators Award

This award was recently established by ASME International to encourage young investigators in accomplishing high quality research. The award is aimed at a paper with significant original contribution to the theory of mechanisms and the potential to enhance the public good, and presented at the ASME Biennial Mechanisms Conference. One award will be given biennially with an ASME Certificate and a cash value of one-thousand US Dollars.

The qualifications of the awardee are as follows:

  • The paper must have significant original contribution to the theory of mechanisms and the potential to enhance the public good.
  • A paper may have multiple authors but at least one of the authors must be a corporate member of the ASME.

  • None of the authors shall hold a position higher than the rank of an Assistant Professor or an equivalent entry-level industrial position. (This rule may be modified as suggested by the mechanisms committee.)

All manuscripts designated to receive this award shall be selected prior to the conference by the Honors and Awards Subcommittee of ASME Mechanisms Committee with an established procedure.

The award is supported by the Department of Design and Manufacturing Systems, the General Motors Research and Development Center. This award was granted this year for the first time, and went to Gregory Chirikjian, Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, MD, USA. Submitted by Prof. L. W. Tsai The University of Maryland, USA

New Perspectives on Research and Education in Mechanisms

A mini-workshop was held at the ASME Design Technical Conferences, within the 24th Biennial Mechanisms Conference, held in Irvine, California on August 20 1996. The panel members were Profs. Art Erdman, Vijay Kumar, Charles Reinholtz, A. H. Soni, and Ken Waldron. Prior to the event, questionnaires were sent to about 85 individuals (40% responded) in the mechanisms community to seek their views on various issues pertaining to research and education including: current status; research areas most likely to grow; funding; education; professional practice; and technology transfer. A detailed summary of the responses was presented at the workshop (including statistics on research topics and funding in the mechanisms area in the last five years). The highlights of the survey results include:

  1. An overwhelming majority of the respondends agree that we should NOT maintain the status quo on the research and education aspects of mechanisms.
  2. There is a mismatch between current research and (a) needs of the society, (b) future growth areas/new technologies and (c) aims of the government funding agencies.
  3. Fewer opportunities exist for the new generation of mechanism researchers.

With this as a backdrop, panel members addressed their views on current status, and new directions to be undertaken. Listed below are some of the comments made by the panel members:

  1. Need to focus on systems rather than on just kinematic issues.
  2. Industry lacks knowledge for solving simple kinematic problems and we need to go out of our way to make industry aware of how we could help.
  3. A good balance between theory and practical applications is needed.
  4. CAD of mechanisms should be emphasized
  5. Proper marketing and packaging of our research is important.
  6. We not only need to do a better job advertising, but we also need to change some of what we are doing.
  7. The journal of mecchanical design should publish industry-relevant papers.
  8. Problem statement should come from the need.
  9. Research should be driven by ``real problems and real people'' rather than by ``neat'' problems

After lengthy discussions, the attendees converged on some concrete suggestions.

Specific Recommendations

  1. Organize a two-day workshop with participants from industry, government and academia to identify key topics in research and education. This is very critical to establish a connection between basic research and emerging technologies in the future.
  2. Organize a few sessions on case studies. These sessions illustrate applications of kinematic (and dynamic) theories to practical design problems which are usually realized in consultation-type situations. The current format allows very little to offer to industrial participants.
  3. Organize a few educational sessions on various research topics. This would not only help attendees from industry understand and appreciate the siginifance of our research; it would also help many of us (within the mechanisms community) gain a better understanding of research topics other than our own. Speakers provide a broad overview of a research area, survey of related research, design tools and their applications to practial problems (more of a seminar type).

It has been requested by the workshop attendees that the ASME Mechanisms Committee make a note of these recommendations and try to implement them at the next conference. Sridhar Kota, U. of Michigan, via Gloria Wiens, U. of Florida


George N. Sandor, world renowned professor, engineer and a great friend to the kinematic community, passed away at the age of 84 years on April 22, 1996. He was Research Professor Emeritus and Director of the Mechanical > Engineering Design Laboratory of the University of Florida, Gainesville, until his retirement in 1989.

Dr. Sandor formerly taught at Rensselaer Polythecnic Institute and at Yale and Columbia Universities. He was the ALCOA Foundation Professor of Mechanisms Design from 1966 to 1975, Chair of the Machines and Structures Division from 1967 to 1974, and finally the Director of the Engineering Design Center in 1975. He worked in U. S. industry for 21 years before starting his graduate work at Columbia. During that time, he made numerous contributions including the design of the first color press for Life Magazine.

Dr. Sandor received his Doctorate in Engineering Science at Columbia University in 1959 and, in 1986, was honored with a Doctor Honoris Causa in Mechanical Engineering at the Technological University, Budapest, Hungary. He had become the first mechanical engineer in the previous 19 years to receive this honor. Dr. Sandor was also elected Honorary Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Sandor wrote over 140 technical, scientific and educational papers, many in refereed journals, and co-authored several books on mechanical design that have been used at over 100 universities and translated into several foreign languages. He invented or co-invented six issued patents. In all, he advised more than 50 master's and doctor's graduates.

Sandor was Life Fellow of ASME and a member of the New York Academy of Science. He received numerous honors including the ASME Machine Design Award, the OSU Applied Mechanisms Award, is one of the Outstanding Educators in America and is listed in Who's Who in America and American Men and Women of Science.

In the U. S. and Hungary, Dr. Sandor held until 1961, many engineering, administrative, executive and board positions in machinery design, manufacture, and research and development with Hungarian Rubber Co. (affiliated with Dunlop Ltd.), Babcock Printing Press Corp., H. W. Faeber Corp., and Time Inc. He was a member of the Boards of Directors at Huck Co., from 1963 to 1970 and held P. E. licenses in Florida, New York, North Carolina and New Jersey.

Dr. Sandor was an avid flier, sailor, musician and poet laureate who spoke seven languages. His interest in aviation spanned over 50 years. While a University student in Budapest, Sandor helped design an open-cockpit, two-passenger biplane for an engineering course project. Unlike many student projects, Sandor's staggered-wing prototype flew perfectly the first try. Submitted by Prof. A. G. Erdman, U. of Minnesotta, via Prof. T. Shoup, U. of Santa Clara

On April 20, 1996, Dr.-Ing. Karl Stölzle died at the age of 73. He belonged to the post-World War II generation, whose drive and achievements in Germany contributed decisively to Germany's position as an industrial country. Karl Stölzle was born in Augsburg. He served an apprenticeship from 1937 to 1940 as an engineering draughtsman at RENK AG, a gear manufacturer, whereupon his life became unavoidably influenced by the turn of events at that time. There followed duty in the National Labour Service, in the Wehrmacht, active service in Russia in 1943, during which he was wounded, as well as action in France. After his return from England as a POW in 1946 he worked as a designer, again at RENK AG, and, on a part-time basis, he finished his pre-college education. He then received a scholarship and completed his studies at the Technical University of Munich in 1952. As an assistant researcher under the supervision of Professor Dr.-Ing. G. Niemann at the Institute for Machine Elements in the TU Munich, Dr. Stölzle received his doctorate in 1969 externally, with a thesis on planetary gears.

Dr. Stölzle had already begun his career in industry as Chief Engineer at RENK AG in 1957. Under his direction, the largest synchronizing, self-shifting clutches were designed and manufactured under license by SSS Gears Ltd., London. After over 25 years of service with RENK, at the end as a specialist for gear design and calculations, Dr. Stölzle joined BHS in Sonthofen as Technical Director. He was especially successful in developing and producing the BHS CODOG propulsion system with large case carburized and ground gears for the frigates F 122 of the German Navy. The requirements for these gears could only be accomplished by high-precision grinding machines.

In 1980, Dr. Stölzle was appointed Managing Director of Dr.-Ing. Höfler Maschinenbau GmbH in Ettlingen. There he was able to apply fully his extensive knowledge to the design of high precision gear grinding machines.

When he retired in 1984, Dr. Stölzle founded an engineering consulting company, ZG Consulting, for gears and power transmission systems in Munich, together with Professor Dr.-Ing. Hans Winter. He attempted to counteract specialization by way of his vast knowledge and experience right up to his death. In an outstanding way, Dr. Stölzle participated in the development of gear research and design. During his chairmanship of the TC Gearing, he led discussions on such topics as the lubrication of gears, calculation of gears, of overloads due to short circuit and malsynchronization, and the definition and use of application and service factors.

He was not only an authority in his field but also a person who could enjoy life. His talents were manifold. He was an artist, a qualified amateur pilot, he could devote himself to the interests of the general public, he was a true patriot and to many an always helpful, endearing and outgoing friend and colleague.

Dr.-Ing. Karl Stölzle was Chairman of the TC Gearing from 1986 till 1993. Submitted by Prof. Dr.-Ing. H. Winter, TU München
Up until the day of his death, his passion was mechanical design and his mission the promotion of technological development.

Prof. Alberto Camacho Sánchez was a dreamer who knew how to turn his dreams into reality.

During his military career, Camacho Sánchez was Director of the Weapon Factory (Mexico) and Professor at the Military College. When Camacho Sánchez joined UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) as a lecturer, he did not give up his military career, reason why he used to lecture at UNAM in uniform. This prompted his students to giving him affectively the nickname ``The Cop'', as he used to recall amusingly. Camacho Sánchez was the first engineer ever to be in charge of the Machine Shop of the Institute of Engineering; in this position, he shared with then Institute's Director Díaz de Cossío the conviction that the most important elements of any corporation are its human resources, and the two thus undertook the task of forming them. Thus was born the Mechanical Engineering Section at the Institute of Engineering, UNAM, with Camacho Sánchez as its first Head. He then undertook the task of initiating [with Prof. Enrique Chicurel] the graduate programs in Mechanical Engineering at UNAM, which were inaugurated in 1969.

When Camacho Sánchez mentioned the idea of establishing a Center for Mechanical Design within the Faculty of Engineering, UNAM, all his colleagues, we included, thought that the idea was doomed, given the attitudes of those days. We all thought that he would not find enough support from the administration, that the Center would be difficult to manage within the administrative apparatus of the Faculty of Engineering of those days, that students would not be interested in pursuing a design career, that credibility from industry would be impossible to gain, etc. Camacho Sánchez's main achievement was the creation of a center where motivated students find the means that enable them to learn how to solve real-life design problems in mechanical engineering, stemming from industry. The list of success stories is quite extensive, a few examples following: a machine for the fast assembly of screws and bolts that is used by Comisión Federal de Electricidad (the Federal Power Corporation); a stamp-cancelling machine; a machine to pack chicken-soup cubes; a label-gluing machine; a machine to lay mosaic; a laboratory orbital mixer; etc.

What is to be highlighted is that, in the Design Center, students learn by themselves and accomplish their studies with the certitude that in spite of the technological difficulties of the Mexican milieu, technological development is possible. The success of the Center for Mechanical Design can be measured by the success of its alumnae and alumni. These have gone either elsewhere to pursue a higher degree in mechanical engineering or into industry, where they work as mechanical designers; some have even gone and established their own engineering firms. Those gone abroad come back to Mexico to pursue a career in teaching and design. Camacho Sánchez's dedication to students is best understood by his work as ASME Student Advisor for many years.

Camacho Sánchez was recipient of the Banamex Prize for Science and Technology in 1971; he was nominated for the National Investigator Award in 1984; and appointed Professor Emeritus of UNAM in 1994. We used to meet regularly for breakfast with him, and so were we counting on him for our November 14, 1995 meeting. Alberto couldn't make it, for he left us on November 11, 1995. With him we lost not only a dear friend, but a pillar of Mexican technology. Submitted by Enrique Chicurel Uziel, Ricardo Chicurel Uziel, and Manuel Aguirre Gándara, UNAM (translated and edited by the Editor).

Professor Åge Øystein Waløn, our highly respected colleague and dear friend, passed away on July 3th, 1996, at 68.

Prof. Waløn took his Master's degree in mechanical engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in 1951 and, in 1952, he was employed at ABB, in Västerås, Sweden as a design engineer. In 1963 he became Head of the Design Department. During his work at ABB Waløn pioneered the use of the finite element method in practical applications. In 1963 Waløn was granted the doctoral degree at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.

In 1965 Waløn was appointed Professor of Machine Design at NTNU. During his tenure, Prof. Waløn wrote several textbooks, initiated a number of research projects and was first author of a number of technical reports and papers. He was an excellent lecturer.

Professor Waløn was, till two days before his death, the Chair of the Norwegian Committee for the Theory of Machines and Mechanisms. Submitted by Prof. Ole Ivar Sivertsen, NTNU Chair, Norwegian Committee on TMM