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Will The Next Jet Airliner You Fly Already Be Obsolete, And Ready for Early Retirement?

9 Oct Boeing_Paine_Field_BPP_A3083

 

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Multimedia eLearning program by: David Anthony Johanson ©  – All written & graphic content on this site (unless noted) was produced by the author. Add: 2.0  For an alternative graphic interface click here: https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com
This multimedia essay includes an eLearning program for secondary/post secondary education and community learning. Assessment tool: A quiz and answer key is located at the end of the program. Learning content covered:  aerospace/airliner— aerospace engineering, avionics, economics & business, environmental  footprint,  financing, manufacturing, marketing, obsolescence management, technology. Learning concepts used: Applied Learning, Adult Learning, Competency-based Learning, Critical Thinking, Integrative Learning.  Key: Words or phrases are italicized to emphasize essential concepts or terms for enhanced retention and learning.
[ Disclaimer: David Johanson is a former Boeing scientific photographer and currently has no stock holdings or a financial interest in: Boeing, Airbus or any other companies referenced in this program. Research in this article has been cross referenced using at least three sources, however, all perspectives and opinions represented in this program are those of the author. Subjects covered: aerospace technology, engineering, obsolescence management, marketing, economics and business subject matter. ]

 

Like seeing a mirage in the distance, shimmering sunlight reflects off rows of metal fuselages densely packed in the summer light. A surreal scene of Boeing jet airliners dominates the view, while forming a metallic wall around sections of a regional airport. Boeing_Paine_Field_747_ae3013
Billions of dollars worth of jet airliners are now double parked around Paine Field, Snohomish County Airport, in Everett, Washington. “This development indicates the current success, Boeing is having at landing airliner orders and the result you’re seeing represents a record amount of aircraft production,”said Terrance Scott, a spokesman for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
He said the Company is leasing this space from Paine Field so that planes can have the remaining work completed and be ready for delivery to their customers — also, this isn’t unique to Everett, but is happening at Boeing manufacturing facilities at Renton Field and at Boeing Field in Seattle.
“Boeing has always been a good neighbor and a fine customer for the airport, they are currently leasing areas to park their aircraft and the revenue generated is appreciated.” said Dave Waggoner, Airport Director at Snohomish County Airport — Paine Field.

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The global economy’s steady growth has increased passenger traffic, which puts pressure on the airlines to purchase new aircraft for satisfying  demand. Continued drops in jet fuel prices benefits air travel industry profits, giving further incentives for fleet investments. Additionally, with historically low-interest rates, lending institutions find new opportunities in aviation financing, enabling expansion of corporate sales. However, financing for used planes is another matter. Cash is drying up for previously owned jetliners — which puts pressure to part-out, then scrap relatively newer-used aircraft.
Could The New Normal Be Shorter Aircraft Service-Life For Airliner Fleets?
Recently, published reports noted a shift towards an assumed obsolescence and accelerated scraping of newer airliners — well before structural integrity or air worthiness becomes a problem, middle-aged aircraft are experiencing vulnerability to an early end-of-life. Clearly, accelerated scraping of newer aircraft is not due to any structural concerns, but rather, cyclical conditions of the industry. To appreciate these concerns a review of an airliner’s operational lifespan may help clarify some of the issues.
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Aircraft manufactures use what is known as pressurization cycles to determine an airliner’s operational lifespan. A pressurizing cycle includes distinct aircraft flight activities — takeoff, climbing until it reaches a cruise altitude and then descending to make a landing. During this process, air is pumped into the fuselage to pressurize the cabin for passenger comfort. This repeated pressurization flexes or expands the fuselage — consequently stress is put on various connecting components, including fasteners and rivets, which holds the structural integrity of the plane together. After a certain number of landing pressurization cycles, stress or metal fatigue can begin to develop, eventually causing small cracks around the fasteners. Pressurization/landing cycles mainly concern the life of an aircraft’s fuselage, wings and landing gear.
The interior of fuselage section, showing perpendicular rings, which are called frames.

The interior of fuselage section, showing perpendicular rings, which are called frames.

Maintenance schedules and lifespan of jet engines are measured in the number of flight hoursAircraft engines, followed by landing gear and then avionics are the most valuable components for part-out and dismantling specialist operations. Ultimately, engine condition is the major factor in an owner’s decision to part-out an aircraft.
For short flights, single or smaller double aisle craft is used to carry passengers, which may go through many landing or pressurization cycles for everyday operations. The more takeoffs and landings, means a shorter operational lifespan for the plane. On long overseas flights, wide body or jumbo jets such as 747s experience fewer landing cycles. These larger airliners, especially ones use for cargo operations can have longer lifespans of upwards of 20 or 30 years. In the U.S., the FAA requires an initial inspection on Boeing 737s, which have 30,000 takeoffs and landings using electromagnetic testing. Mandatory inspections are required for finding cracks in the fuselage or metal fasteners.
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Boeing has a history of ‘over-engineering’ components of its aircraft, which is actually a good thing for ensuring passenger safety and for an extended service-life of the aircraft. Historical evidence of this conservative engineering practice is documented in WWII archival film footage of blown-apart B-17s returning from a mission and safely landing. There are more recent examples of Boeing commercial aircraft surviving dramatic inflight catastrophic failures, with most of the passengers and crew landing safely.
Photo-illustration of an aircraft end-of-life center (aircraft boneyard.)

Photo-illustration of an aircraft end-of-life center
(aircraft boneyard.)

Compound Forces Working Against Long-Life-Cycle Aircraft
What are the current forces, which hasten the end-of-life of a commercial jet airliner? Recurring cycles or patterns of economic and technological events influences the commercial aircraft industry on a daily basis.  Various ripple-effects of these cycles can quickly alter new and used aircraft asset valuation. Airline leasing companies have a major influence, in providing their customers with the aircraft assets they need. Unless the buying customer has solid credit, it’s doubtful they can secure financing for previously-owned airliners. Also, tax incentives exist for Airline companies to use depreciation right-offs by decommissioning  all but  the most advance aircraft assets.      Calculator changecphoto illustration
Maintenance requirements are a long-term, yet fluid, financial concern for a company’s airline fleet. The newer designed aircraft are manufactured with significantly fewer parts than previous models. Consequently, reduction in parts has an impact on reducing maintenance expenditures — including smaller service crews, hours spent on inspection and a reduction of overall repairs. Also, spare parts inventories for maintaining the aircraft’s optimum performance can substantially be reduced compared to an older aircraft. The cost savings benefits are compelling incentives for eliminating older, higher maintenance, aircraft assets.
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As mentioned previously, the considerable reduction of parts used in manufacturing newer aircraft provides an immediate benefit of up to 20 percent weight reduction. Without compromising strength or aircraft structural  integrity, the cost savings from less weight begins the day an airliner is put into service. Traditionally, fuel-efficiency  is the “holy grail” used for selecting an aircraft — the amount of fuel-burn affects the daily operational cost of an airline company. After a decade of service an older airliner reaches mid-life, it may require upgraded and modification conversions to the aircraft’s wings (winglets) or need new fuel-efficient jet engines. However, this is a threshold of diminishing returns from such investments. As a result, keeping an older aircraft competitive with newer models may not pay-off at a certain point. That’s when retirement and parting-out the airliner begins to make economic sense and the aircraft’s end-of-life management begins.
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Inevitable Problems Facing Aircraft Electronic Systems (Avionics) Obsolescence
A critical and perplexing problem facing commercial airliners is how to ensure its critical avionics systems,  evolve and stay up-to-date. Avionics provides the central nervous system or a CPU framework for a commercial aircraft. It’s a marvelous matrix of advanced electronic systems technology, which constantly communicates with itself, the pilots and the outside world.  More so than any other components making up an aircraft’s technological system, its management and functionality duties are beyond comparison. Each year avionics systems physically contract in size, yet they expand immensely in functionality and system management.
Cell_Phone_Tlk_BPP_et82Here’s an example to help clarify this dichotomy of physical contraction and expansion of technical functionality. Your smartphone can be used as a basic representational model for avionics obsolescence. The phone you’re holding in your hand has a superior mobile graphics processor and sheer number-crunching power advantage over IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer of the late 1990s. Yet, you can hold your phone in hand, compared to Deep Blue, which was the size of a large refrigerator. However, advanced your smartphone is today, a year from now it’ll be obsolete and two years from now… a quaint antique.  If you grabbed your smartphone and considered the example, you just experienced Moore’s law of observation — ‘over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.’                                                                                   circut_board_watch_BPP_a70
Now, imagine trying to update  a complex system such as an airliner’s avionics bay, in five-years, 10-years or 15-years. The installation and the majority of electronic systems are not made by the Aircraft’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM) such as Boeing or Airbus. Moreover, the vendors or suppliers 10 or 15-years from now who were the OEM, could be out of business.  In the meantime, new replacement components may have to substitute the obsolete equipment. However, the aircraft industry is highly regulated by government agencies, which require strict certification of equipment modifications. As a result of these constraints, aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing,  developed obsolescence management strategies to help mitigate these ongoing concerns. But there are always unforeseen obstacles and many moving parts to coordinate before the necessary electronic components are available when needed. Clear, transparent communication is necessary between internal engineering and purchasing departments. Sucessful collaboration at all levels can present major challenges, especially if the objectives and timetables are not each group’s priority.
So aircraft avionics are the vulnerable underbelly of airliner obsolescence — with financial consequences associated with accelerated, technology — necessitating complex and expensive electronic upgrades.
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 Airspace Navigation Service Providers (ANSP), which includes the FAA and the European counterpart EASA — have established new mandate requirements for avionics component upgrades. The purpose of this technology is for enhanced data link digital communication, which interacts instantly with aircraft Flight Management Systems (FMS). These requirements include, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), Controller-Pilot Data Link (CPDLC) and the Future Air Navigation System (FANS) enables text messaging and global position through satellite communications. The new civil aviation mandates are part of  the next generation air traffic computer technology called NextGen, which represents air traffic infrastructure’s future for the next 10 to 15 years.
Used Aircraft Components, Harvested For Premium Returns, Is the Retired Airliners Last Call In Service Before Its Final Destination.
Perhaps aircraft boneyards are flying under the radar as virtual gold mines, as refurbished parts are easily sold at market value. The savings of buying used, over new aircraft parts is incentive for expanding the market. Engines, landing gear and avionics are the most expensive components of an aircraft. These prized components are a highly valued commodity and are quickly snapped up. Specialized systems are not manufactured by companies such as Boeing or Airbus, but by outside OEM. Parts sold brand new by the manufacturer are considerably more expensive than buying used.
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Next Generation aircraft such as the Boeing 737-600 and even a 737-800, which was reported had a hard-landing, reached their end-of-life as scrap.  Also, Airbus has had similar, newer single-aisle aircraft models reached their final destination in the aviation boneyard.  Aircraft Fleet receivable Association (AFRA) estimates 600 commercial jet airliners are scrapped yearly. By 2023 it’s estimated the number of commercial airliners scrapped will reach 1000 per-year.

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Efforts Of The Aviation Industry To Leave A Smaller Environmental Footprint.
In 2008, the Boeing Company reached out to Airbus in collaboration, with the goal to vastly improve aircraft recycling technology. Airbus estimates they are recycling 85 percent of the entire aircraft, the remaining cabin interior amounted to 15 percent and was the only materials added to landfills.  World_box_BPP_et424
The best takeaway from the issues surrounding accelerated airliner service-life is that less fuel is consumed by the newer fleets. As older, less efficient aircraft are replaced, a 20 percent reduction in fuel emissions will not enter the atmosphere from the next generation aircraft replacements. If the world’s commercial airline manufactures continue to devote more effort towards efficient recycling of past generation aircraft, we can look forward to clearer skies ahead.                                                                                                                                                                                                  ~

Boeing 747 Euro photo illustration

 

 

 

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Special thanks to The Future of Flight Museum, for allowing photos to be taken from their excellent observation deck.           http://www.futureofflight.org 

 

Airliner Obsolescence Quiz  (Read the entire question before answering)

1. ) What three economic incentives are currently influencing airlines to purchase new aircraft for satisfying travel demand. ________________________________ _________________________________ & ________________________________

2. ) (True or False) Structural integrity or air worthiness of current generation airliners are the main issue why these aircraft are being retired early. _______ If you answered false, give at least one other reason why this is occurring. __________________________________________________________

3. ) Aircraft manufactures use _____________________ cycles to determine an airliner’s operational lifespan.
4. ) What are three distinct aircraft flight activities used to determine an airliner’s operation lifespan? _________________________ __________________________ ____________________________________________
5. ) Maintenance schedules and lifespan of jet engines are measured in the ________________ hours.
6. ) Aircraft _________ followed by ____________ and then ___________ are the most valuable components for part-out and dismantling specialist operations. Fill in the blanks above by selecting the proper order of component value, using the following list: (bulk heads) (wire bundles) (avionics) (engines) (landing gear)
7. ) Selecting from the choices listed below, which aircraft will typically experience more pressurization cycles and why? A or B ____________ explain why _____________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ A. Jumbo jet (larger, multi isle aircraft) which is used for longer, overseas flights. B. Smaller, single isle jet airliners, which are used more for shorter, domestic flights.
8. ) Multi-isle airliners or jumbo jets, used for longer international flights or for cargo operations can have longer lifespans of upwards of ____ – ____ years. Select the best match from these sets: 5 − 15, 10 − 15, 20 − 30, 30 − 40 years.
9. ) Explain why a larger commercial jet airliner, which flies longer over sea routes, would have a longer operational life than a smaller aircraft, which is used on much shorter routes? __________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

10. ) What procedure is required by the FAA for a Boeing 737 airliner, which completes 30,000 takeoffs and landings?__________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

11. ) The newer designed aircraft are manufactured with significantly fewer parts than previous models, list at least two reasons why this is an advantage and would make older aircraft obsolete? ________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________
12. ) What traditionally has been considered the “holy grail” used by the airline industry for selecting an aircraft? _________________________________________
13. ) When permanent retirement and parting-out the of an airliner begins to make economic sense, what form of management begins for that aircraft? ____________________ Select one of the following: end-of-days, end-of-life, retirement cycle, recycle phase.
14. ) What critical system of an airliner is considered its “central nervous system” or CPU for overall control of the aircraft? ________________________________ Give at least two reasons why this system contributes to a jet becoming obsolete? _______________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

15. ) Approximately how many aircraft are permanently retired or scrapped in a year? __________________ By 2023, how many aircraft are expected to be scrapped? _______________________________________________________________________

16. ) Regarding commercial aircraft recycling technology, what percentage does Airbus estimate it is recycling of the entire airliner ___ 40 %, 65 %, 75 % or 85 % What percent of the aircraft is not recyclable ___ 60 %, 50 %, 25 %, or 15 % What part of the airliner is not recyclable ____________________ and where does it end up? ___________________________
The answer key is at the very bottom, after program sources & related links 

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Sources & Related Subject Matter Links
This link shows live air traffic anywhere in the world. View how congested the sky’s are over the world’s busiest airports.

http://www.flightradar24.com/47.79,-122.31/7

 

Aircraft Bluebook – Used for aviation asset valuation

http://www.boeing.com/assets/pdf/commercial/aircraft_economic_life_whitepaper.pdfhttp://marketline.squarespace.com 

http://www.boeing.com/boeing/companyoffices/aboutus/brief/commercial.page

http://www.airbus.com/innovation/eco-efficiency/aircraft-end-of-life/

http://www.airspacemag.com/need-to-know/what-determines-an-airplanes-lifespan-29533465/?no-ist

http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/air_cert/design_approvals/air_software/media/ObsolescenceFinalReport.pdf

http://aviationweek.com/awin/nextgen-obsolescence-driving-avionics-refurbs

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/jun/11/boeing-commercial-planes-double-asia-pacific

http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.main/5740876/

http://avolon.aero/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Aircraft_Retirement_Trends_Outlook_Sep_2012.pdf

Article & photos on U.S. aircraft boneyards

http://www.johnweeks.com/boneyard/

 

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2336804/The-great-aviation-graveyard-New-aerial-images-hundreds-planes-left-die-American-deserts.html
Article, photos & interactive map of U.S. aircraft boneyards
http://www.airplaneboneyards.com/commercial-aviation-airplane-boneyards-storage.htm
Excellent aerial video of Airplane Graveyard (Mojave Airport, California)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RjaoR7Zk2s
Future of Flight Museum -

Future of Flight Museum

Airliner Obsolescence Quiz Answer Key

1. )  Satisfying increased travel demand Fuel cost savings  &  Historically low-interest rates for financing new aircraft
2. )  True Newer aircraft are replacing airworthy, older aircraft due to much less operating cost, including fuel savings and maintenance issues.
3. )  Pressurization or Landing cycles
4. )  Takeoff Climbing to cruise altitude Landing
5. )  Number of flight hours
6. )  Engines  landing  gear avionics
7. )  B Shorter service routes typically involve more landing and takeoffs as the airliner satisfies domestic travel demand
8. )  20 − 30
9. )  An airliner flying overseas route would most likely have fewer takeoffs and landings, due to the longer flight time required to reach its destination
10. )  Electromagnetic testing for finding cracks in the fuselage or related components
11. )  Fewer parts can result in an airliner weighing up to 20 percent less than older models, which can correlate to the same percentage of fuel savings. The maintenance cost is substantially lower allowing for more savings over older aircraft with more component parts.
12. )  Fuel-efficiency
13. )  End-of-life
14. )  Avionics electronic components used for avionics may not be available or upgradeable due to obsolescence upgrading obsolete avionics may require expensive redesign
15. )  Up to 600 1000
16. )  85 %   15 %   Cabin interiors Landfills

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What Chance Will America’s Youth Have In A Changing Global Economy?

17 Apr
The first STEM EXPO Fair held at Edmonds School District's new STEM Magnet School at MountLake Terrace HS in Washington State. The student is caring a rocket, which was used in a group presentation at the fair.

The first STEM EXPO Fair held at Edmonds School District’s new STEM Magnet School at       MountLake Terrace HS in Washington State. This rocket club student is caring a rocket, which was used earlier in a group presentation at the fair.

Multimedia eLearning program by: David Anthony Johanson © All Rights

The author is a multimedia specialist, CTE instructor and a former Boeing scientific photographer. For an alternative graphic view of this program, please visit: https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/what-chance-will-americas-youth-have-in-a-changing-global-economy/ 

 

A big question asked by concerned people and industry leaders across the Nation is waiting for an answer… How will current and future generations stay competitive in an increasingly, complex, global economy? A high-performance education program involving a blend of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) — is promising solutions as its building momentum within post-secondary and kindergarten-through-grade 12 (K-12) education. 

STEM Robotics team project is demonstrated for an enthusiastic audience of all ages.

STEM Robotics team project is demonstrated for an enthusiastic audience of all ages.

The dynamic learning created from STEM’s project based curriculum is contagious for a growing number of students. And the program’s appeal is spreading to parents, schools and corporate sponsors who are looking for ways to get involved in supporting technology learning through public education. Even the U.S. Congress solidly supports the critical initiatives driving STEM Education, which is mostly funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF.)

STEM Robotics team in action with their project

Enthusiasm and excitement was experienced by those viewing students’ technology project presentations.

A Basic Overview Of A STEM Magnet Program

By the 21st century, digital technology had transformed global industry and commerce by accelerating STEM related industries. The skill-sets, training and knowledge of entry-level applicants was falling behind. Standards for learning, used in our public educational system, were now becoming outdated. Nationally, educators needed a new, comprehensive learning approach to inspire, explore and motivate students’ achievement in the global dynamics of STEM.

Today, the Nation’s public schools place greater emphasis on introducing STEM related content to both teachers and students starting as early as grade school. This program strategy allows all students of varied backgrounds, ethnicities and socio-economic levels to gain access to learning projects associated with science and technology.

By presenting young students with thoughtful STEM lesson plans, they are more likely to engage in the discovery process of even the most technical subject matters. Entering middle school, students are learning accelerated levels of science and technology content, which helps them decide if they wish to enroll in a high school, offering a focused curriculum. The STEM Magnet Program pulls in a diversified population of students, engaged and motivated by their earlier learning experiences.

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 Evolution And Development Of STEM Education

Richard Blais, Chairman of the technology department for the Shenendehowa Central School District in Upstate New York, developed a curriculum in 1986, to support students’ interest in studying engineering. To enable enthusiasm and confidence in students, core courses included; pre-engineering and digital electronics, infused with energetic and interactive learning environments. The curriculum’s proven a success, attracted philanthropist, Richard Liebich, who partnered with Blais to set up, Project Lead the Way (PLTW.) 

Greg Schwab - Principal, Mountlake Terrace High School, greets students at the STEM EXPO Fair

Greg Schwab – Principal, Mountlake Terrace High School, greets students at the STEM EXPO Fair

Dr. Nick Brossoit Superintendent, Edmonds School District

Dr. Nick Brossoit Superintendent, Edmonds School District

Within 10 years of PLTW’s founding, a dozen high schools in New York State adopted the program. Within the next few years high schools in 30 states were using PLTW’sPathway to Engineering Program.” Soon after, PLTW was a major national program, which used innovative activities of project and problem-based assignments. Further adding to PLTW’s momentum and success was the enthusiastic support corporations showed by endorsing and contributing financial resources towards the program.  

Mark Madison  Director, Career & Technical Education

Mark Madison
Director, Career & Technical Education for Edmonds SD

STEM Education incorporated many successful PLTW learning strategies and programs. PLTW is still active in high schools today and plays an active role in STEM Education.  

STEM EXPO Keynote Speaker - Dr. Elaine Scott Director of Science & Technology Program UW Bothell

STEM EXPO Keynote Speaker – Dr. Elaine Scott, Director of Science & Technology Program, UW Bothell 

Mark Sanders’, 2009 STEMmania article in The Technology Teacher, cites the STEM acronym first being used in the 1990’s. The National Science Foundation (NSF) started using “SMET” as a reference for “science, mathematics, engineering and technology.” A department, program officer complained “SMET” sounded similar to “smut,” so “STEM” became the suitable replacement. It would take more than a decade for the public to recognize STEM’s referenced meaning.  

The support  and enthusiasm for STEM Education is displayed by an impressive turnout for the District's first STEM EXPO Fair.

The support and enthusiasm for STEM Education is displayed by an impressive turnout for the District’s first STEM EXPO Fair.

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The Challenge Of Integrative Education: Transcending Barriers And Perceived Domains Found Within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic Education

Perhaps the greatest test for a STEM Magnet Program will involve achieving the goal, of course/subject integration. As a career, technical and education (CTE) instructor, I’ve heard this complaint more than any other from students — ‘why do I have to learn this subject, it doesn’t relate to other things I’m learning or anything I’ll ever need to know!?’ In truth, all subjects and courses taught in school share dynamic connections, we as educators need to do more in helping students see their associations.   

STEM_Fair_ESD_BPP_ae_24 Core sciences and engineering education have traditionally maintained strict disciplinary lines, known as silos. This shortsighted disconnect is generally not found in industry, where the imperative is to find solutions which will “payoff” in the shortest amount of time. Industry’s necessity to cut through process for realizing greater profits is an important lesson plan for all STEM Programs. The realized profit for a student is — being taught how to quickly adapt new, comprehensive and sometimes-unconventional learning strategies to gain a competitive advantage.  STEM_Fair_ESD_BPP_ae_18

STEM Expo Robotics team takes a break from their demonstration for a group photo. Teamwork builds confidence and trust in the students themselves as well as other team members.

The STEM Expo Robotics team takes a break from their demonstration for a group photo. Teamwork builds confidence and trust in the students themselves as well as other team members.

Benefits/Advantages For Both Students And The Schools They Attend

Developing a STEM magnet program helps a school district align its resources towards assisting students preparing for college and universities, which specialize in related technical studies. An additional advantage the program offers a student pursuing a post secondary education is — an institution will most likely accept the applicant’s enrollment request based on the knowledge and technical skills achieved through a STEM Magnet Program.   

                  

STEM_Fair_ESD_BPP_87   STEM_Fair_ESD_BPP_ac_23   U.S. industries have increasingly cited the lack of qualified technical applicants they need as a reason not to hire more employees. The shortage of people with necessary STEM skills has motivated corporations to contribute their resources of funding, mentoring and sponsorship towards public education’s technology learning programs.

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Community exhibitors at the STEM EXPO Fair include corporate sponsors of STEM education.

Community exhibitors at the STEM EXPO Fair include corporate sponsors of STEM education.

 

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Aerospace giant Boeing is a big sponsor of the STEM Magnet Program.

Aerospace giant Boeing is a big sponsor of the STEM Magnet Program.

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Parents and community groups have eagerly supported STEM programs. Student’s parents are critical stakeholders who quickly realized the impact the program was having  — seeing impressive scholastic and attitude improvements with their children.

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STEM Education Uses Progressive Learning Strategies To Develop Critical Learning And Self-Discipline Within Students 

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STEM Education attempts to accelerate student development by modifying the standard teacher-centered classroom with more independent learning. The curriculum encourages project-based learning, problem solving and discovery, which empower the students to engage their cognitive skills to find solutions. This form of learning develops greater self-confidence in students and it opens channels among the students themselves to interact thru peer-to-peer learning. These spontaneous collaborative activities are self-organized learning events and they naturally promote leadership within the group. It has been well documented, knowledge transferred from experience in peer-to-peer activities are highly successful forms of learning.

Students enrolled in STEM Programs are encouraged to engage and connect with others by refining their presentation skills.

Students enrolled in STEM Programs are encouraged to engage and connect with others by refining their presentation skills.

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Tangible Returns In Personal Development Through Teamwork And Leadership

Over the past five years I’ve had the opportunity to teach in a variety of classroom environments using a CTE curriculum. It’s remarkable seeing how engaged students are with learning their STEM subject matter. These same students are much more likely to openly contribute and share their ideas in a classroom discussion using the critical thinking skills they’ve learned to develop.

Most often, STEM classes are more like being in a college environment, requiring a minimum amount of classroom management, as the students are self-motivated to complete their assignments and move on to the next project. Generally the level of leadership development and volunteerism is noticeably higher in STEM classes due to the program’s emphasis on teamwork, self-confidence and academic achievement. These personal development qualities are valuable assets for students applying for college admission and later — when entering the career of their choice.

Craig DeVine - pre-engineering instructor, talks with his students near a 3-D printer

Craig DeVine – pre-engineering instructor, talks with his students near a 3-D printer

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Improving Forecast For Employment Opportunities Using STEM Education

As STEM Magnet Schools continue to place their graduates into secondary education, followed by the students’ successful careers in STEM related industries — STEM Education will help transform the American education landscape. If STEM Education can sustain its momentum, the future horizon looks bright for our youth to achieve economic opportunities on a global leveled playing field.   STEM_Fair_ESD_BPP_91 STEM_Fair_ESD_BPP_1 STEM_Fair_ESD_BPP_ae_12_1

Entrance to Mountlake Terrace High School -Edmonds School District's first STEM Magnet School

Entrance to Mountlake Terrace High School -Edmonds School District’s first STEM Magnet School

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STEM Education Terms & Definitions

CTE = Career Technical Education NSF – National Science Foundation PD&I = pedagogy referring to – purposeful design and inquiry PLTW = Project Lead The Way STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics  STEM Magnet School = A school with a concentration of STEM classes, which attracts students throughout a school district interested in enrolling in a STEM Program   STEM_Fair_ESD_BPP_ae_5

STEM Education Links

http://www.stemedcoalition.org/ Home The Future of Education / The history of STEM education in America. Handy infographic! What is STEM Education? PLTW | OUR HISTORY PLTW | STEM Education Curriculum for Middle and High Schools http://esdstem.pbworks.com/f/TTT%2BSTEM%2BArticle_1.pdf Home PBS Teachers | STEM Education Resource Center nsf.gov – National Science Foundation – US National Science Foundation (NSF) Siemens STEM Academy – STEM Education Has Arrived… Start Small, But Dream Big http://www.stemeducation.com/ STEM Resources | Early STEM Program Still Going Strong – STEM Education (usnews.com) What STEM Is–and Why We Care – STEM Education (usnews.com) https://education.uky.edu/STEM/sites/education.uky.edu.STEM/files/SEM%20604_syllabus_%20History%20of%20STEM%20Ed.pdf Historical Perspectives on STEM Education in Arkansas | Arkansas STEM Coalition http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42642.pdf STEM ES Home – STEM ES FAQs NSTA :: News Story

A Full Throttle Multimedia Video of Seattle From the R22 Beta II helicopter – Part 1 of 2.

16 Oct
Multimedia essay by: David Johanson Vasquez  © All Rights 

The Robinson R22 helicopter is often described as a sports car version of helicopters — ultra light in weight, it takes off quickly and is so responsive it will literally make your head spin. Weighing in at only 1200 pounds fully fueled, it often feels like you’re wearing the helicopter like a “jet-pack” rather than riding in it. As a thrilling life experience, helicopter flights are at the top of the list, however, it requires the highest level of professionalism to safely fly and be involved with helicopter operations.

Videos by: David Johanson © All Rights

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMVD3-P0fdM&feature=player_detailpage

 As a multimedia specialist who produces stories supported by photography and video content, I’ve used a variety of helicopters for an image capture platform. Everything from the compact , high – performance Huey 500D up to the  large tandem rotor  Kawasaki KV 107 (a licensed version of  the Boeing Vertol BV107 “Chinook” helicopter.) It’s the R22’s light weight, which  in my opinion, gives you the most thrill for getting from point A to point B.          

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The Robinson R22 Beta II Helicopter was arranged for me to use as part of ◊ a six-month photography contract with the Port of Seattle. In between locations photographed for the Port, I shot video content for multimedia educational applications.

Multimedia Enhancements For Greater Learning 

This multimedia video includes graphic overlays, lower third titles and an integrated color key, which indicate: ΘSeattle historic architecture (Smith Tower)↔ municipal, transportation and industry infrastructure along with the  R22’s performance ratingsThe style of writing for this multimedia essay structures information using bold and italicized text  to optimize key content for quick scanning by readers. For accessing your recall and comprehension a quiz is included at the end of this essay. You’re also invited to explore provided web links related to the essay’s content  for learning more about subjects of interest. Your opinions and insights on how to enrich this multimedia experience is valued, so a comment section is included for suggestions and feedback.                                 

Advantages & Challenges For Image Capture from Helicopters     

The advantages of using a helicopter over an urban setting are many including: multiple low angle views, which are unavailable when using fixed winged aircraft, hovering over specific areas, an efficiency in reaching desired altitudes for a variety of perspective views.  

Ξ Aerial photography and especially video are challenging to produce in a helicopter compared with using fixed winged aircraft.  Two major issues, which can hamper imaging are: ↑ vibrations and noise caused from the engine next to the cab and rotor vibrations caused from elastic torsion deformations while flying. Aerospace companies such as Boeing and big budget feature film projects will occasionally use high-end aerial photography  companies, which have specialized cameras mounted into their aircraft. This specialization can reduce some aerial photography vibration issues associated with hand-held cameras, but it requires a large budget to justify the expense. The R22 helicopter is a very light craft and the summer afternoon, which was used to shoot these aerials, had strong turbulence, so some scenes will have some unavoidable vibration and noise in them. 

This is the first of two videos, which features aerial views of Seattle provided by  Helicopters Northwest out of Θ Boeing Field. The second video, soon to be posted, shows the return for refueling and includes initial mechanical issues getting the helicopter back in the air.  In regards to refueling, it’s critical a helicopter has been properly grounded before operations begin. Helicopter rotor blades are capable of generating large amounts of static electricity —especially in dry, dusty environments, which can pose a serious threat to both flight and ground crews.                

Outcomes From Infrequent Helicopter Accidents Are Usually Tragic… But There Are Exceptions

One of my first jobs after graduating from college was with KREM-TV (King Broadcasting) in Spokane. A few years after I moved on from working with the station a tragic accident occurred with its news helicopter. The helicopter had just picked up Gary Brown —an outstanding KREM videographer (who I remembered as always being upbeat, positive and friendly) — when its rotor blades struck the guy wires supporting the station’s transmitter tower. Both the photographer and pilot were killed instantly.

I’ve included a link below, which has an article with a photo of the accident scene from the Spokane, Spokesman Review – May 7, 1985 edition. The story has comments from a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA ) official coordinating the accident’s investigation. Ironically at the same page is a syndicated, New York Times story of a larger helicopter accident, which occurred on the following day of May 6. That tragedy was of the loss of 17 Marines in a large Sikorsky, CH-53 Sea Stallion off the southwestern coast of Japan. A joint operations helicopter reported witnessing the CH-53 suddenly lost power and dropped 500 feet into the sea. 

About ten years ago a friend of mine survived a helicopter crash, with only a few scratches. He had bought a used helicopter from a sheriff’s department to State his own flight service business. Over time, parts needed to be replaced with upgrades and he was sold a defective fuel-line, which was installed and failed while in flight. He was approximately 100 feet in the air with two clients when the helicopter’s engine shuttered to a stop. Fortunately he got his helicopter into ↑ auto rotation (emergency helicopter procedure, which shifts rotor blade’s pitch to use stored kinetic energy for making a “soft landing”) and as they began descending, the helicopter’s skid caught the center of a tree and its branches helped them slow the descent even more. 

Education and Training Is the Key to Helicopter Safety

Overall, if you consider how many hours and flights in a day helicopters perform flawlesslythey are safe and reliable. What these specialized aircraft can achieve in vertical maneuverability and performance is nothing short of marvelous and amazing. To ensure engines and structural frames are safely maintained the FAA certifies aviation mechanics using  two certifications. Helicopter mechanics are required to have: an airframe mechanic and or a power plant mechanic certification. Most employers prefer their mechanics having both certifications, which requires 1,900 hours of coursework in order to pass oral and written exams that prove their skills.           

Both videos demonstrate the essential level of professionalism required for helicopter operations during a high volume of jet and helicopters landings and takeoffs at Boeing Field.

Now, just sit back and enjoy the ride!       

     

 

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QUESTIONS FOR CONTINUOUS LEARNING AND TO TEST YOUR RECALL?

1.) What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a helicopter for aerial photography?

2.) Name one of the first skyscrapers, which also was the tallest building on the West Coast until 1962?

3.) What is the most important overall requirement for flying helicopters?

4.) What is the name of the emergency procedure for when a helicopter’s engine fails inflight and what process takes place for a soft landing?

5.) Name the FAA requirements for being a helicopter mechanic and why are they necessary?

6.) Describe the multimedia enhancements on the video, which were used to promote greater learning.

Integrated Learning Color/Symbol Key for Career Technical Education:

Navy BlueAerospace Engineering related including: aerodynamics, structural dynamics & avionics

Ξ Dark Green — Multimedia & graphic design techniques used for Integrated learning

Θ Maroon — Historical structures, locations and or districts

◊ Indigo – Professional photography & video production

 Purple — Civil engineering related

 

REFERENCES: (Click on these sites to learn more on the subject)

The Kopp-Etchells Effect: Eerie Halo of a Helicopter’s Rotor Blades in a Dust Cloud – Neatorama

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=AD0282087

The Spokesman-Review – Google News Archive Search

Robinson Helicopter Co.

Helicopters Northwest – Boeing Field

Intersting facts about the historic Smith Tower

HistoryLink.org- the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History

Smith Tower – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Walking Tours (Self-Guided) – Visiting Seattle – Seattle.gov

http://www.soundtransit.org/Documents/pdf/about/Chronology.pdf

Downtown (Central Business District) guide, moving to Seattle | StreetAdvisor

Columbia Helicopters

CH-47JA Helicopter | Helicopters | Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. Aerospace Company

Boeing CH-47 Chinook

Boeing: History — Products – Boeing CH-47 Chinook Rotorcraft

MD Helicopters MD 500 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Boeing: History — Products – Hughes OH-6 Cayuse/500 Military and Civilian Helicopter

Helicopter Safety | Flight Safety Foundation

http://drum.lib.umd.edu/bitstream/1903/1900/1/umi-umd-1880.pdf

King County International Airport/Boeing Field

Port of Seattle

 

 

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Blinded By Light, In The Middle Of Night

16 Aug
Multimedia essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights  — Second Edition
For an alternative formatted view of this essay, please visit — http://www.BigPictureOne.wordpress.com

My photo wingman, Rick Wong and I headed into the heart of darkness in quest of the Perseid meteor showers. Mount Rainier National Park—was our ultimate destination. We chose the iconic, volcanic landmark for framing an infinite field of stars, which we believed was far from the glare of city lights. Traveling at night in Rick’s new Ford Fusion, using the hybrid’s voice recognition, made it easy to arrive at the park without using a map. Reaching our destination, luminous sparkling stars lit up the still night, but we were surprised with some uninvited competition, which nearly stole the show.

A stunning view of Mount Rainier reflected in Reflection Lake, with the summer stars overhead. The pink and orange glow on the left side of the mountain is light pollution emitted from the City of Tacoma, approximately 65 miles northwest.

 

We found an ideal location above Reflection lake, with the Cascade Mountains’ most famous stratovolcano in the background. An unexpected warm light was glowing behind Mount Rainier, which I reasoned, was a faint remnant from the earlier sunset. However,  the sun had set at least four hours earlier, so it couldn’t be the source of the illumination. Rick suggested “its light coming from the City of Tacoma,” located about 65 miles away. During a 20-second long exposures used to take images of the snow-capped mountain, I began thinking about the effects caused by light pollution.  

With a bright moon rising, we worked fast to keep up with the changing light, until its intensity eventually overpowered the stars.

With the moon steadily rising behind us, it too was causing us to shift focus on what to photograph. Like a giant diffuse reflector, the moon projected soft filtered sunlight onto a previously dark, formless landscape. As the moonlight overwhelmed the intensity of the starlight, it removed the opportunity for crystal clear views of the Milky Way, as well as faint meteor sightings. Being photo opportunist, we used the moonlight opportunity to reveal shadow-detail  on the south face of Rainier.    

The photographer appears in the dark, like some sorcerer conjuring an intense red light before Mount Rainier and her crown of stars above.

A Peaceful Paradise Lost

There’s a tranquil feeling while in the process of taking long exposures at night; it’s normally quiet with minimal distractions to overwhelm the senses or interrupt your focus. I personally enjoy these rare opportunities of solitude, to visualize an image using a minimal—Zen like perspective.

Distractions can be disruptive during these in-the-now-moments, as when cars coming around corners with intense, high-beam headlights.  More than once, clusters of cars with high beam lights appeared… just as the moon illuminated the mountain’s reflection onto a perfectly still lake. I quickly used my hands, in an attempt to shield the lens from light flare. Finally, the cars diapered into the darkness with no approaching vehicles until dawn.

Photo-illustration of the multiple effects of light sources which can cause light pollution by unintended distraction or spill-light.

Moving above the lake to find new angles for interesting compositions, I began to notice something, which I had not noticed before.  Lights of various colors, were coming from photographers bellow me, created by their digital camera’s preview monitors and infrared sensors for auto focusing. With the low light-sensitive Nikon cameras I was using, their monitor lights appeared like a bright flare in my long exposure photos. Now, I had one more unwelcome light source to deal with, which required strategic timing in making exposures to avoid the glare. 

Again, my thoughts returned to the issues of light pollution. I remembered back home when I wanted to photograph a full-moon  at night and a neighbor’s floodlight lit up the backyard. Their floodlight forced me to find the last remaining isolated shadowed corner of the yard.

My reminiscing was cut short by a distant, but bright, pinpoint of light flashing from bellow Mount Rainier’s summit.  Flashlights from mountain climbers near Camp Muir shined bright like lighthouse beacons in the semi-darkened rocks and glacier fields. Even the faintest light can shine bright at night as documented in World War II. Warships were forbidden from having any exterior lights on at night, including a lit cigarette, otherwise they could be spotted from great distances by enemy submarines.  

Lights from mountain climbers on the approach to the summit of Mount Ranier.

Encountering the Universe’s Brilliance

The improper, overuse of outdoor lighting has erased a fundamental and connecting human experience—encountering the universe’s brilliance with its galaxies and stars shining in the night sky! Making a visual contact with our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is one of the greatest shows seen from Earth.

In less than a century of civilization’s reliance on electric technology: two-thirds of the U.S., half of Europe and a fifth of people in the world—now live where they cannot see the Milky Way with the unaided eye. You can appreciate how we lost our stellar view by seeing aerial photos taken from orbiting spacecraft and the International Space Station. These startling images taken of Earth at night, reveals a man-made galaxy of artificial light, which cancels out much of the real ones in the sky above.  

Some years back, I was a part-owner in a small recreational ranch, in Eastern Washington’s, Okanogan County. Brining friends over from Seattle, it was often nighttime when we arrived. The instant of exiting the cars, was a startling event as the Milky Way’s intensity of light overwhelmed your senses. The “ranch” was remotely located, at about 5,000 feet in the mountains, near the Canadian border and 30-miles from the closest town. Days would go by where we didn’t see a car or even hear a small airplane go overhead… it was one of the most refreshing experiences of my life, to perceive nothing except wind going through trees and seeing only starlight at night for hours at a time.

Image courtesy of NASA

 A television interview with the director of a major observatory in Southern California recounted when Los Angeles had its last electrical blackout —people were calling 911 and his observatory, reporting of strange, bright objects in the night sky. Actually what the callers were seeing for the first time, was the natural light from intensely shining stars of the Milky Way.

Image courtesy of NASA.

 

Besides forfeiting a life inspiring, wondrous view of the cosmos, there’s tangible losses associated with light pollution. Conservative estimates are 30 % of U.S. outdoor lighting is pointed skyward in the wrong direction, which wastes billions of dollars of electricity. The unnecessary practice of lighting clouds, burns more than 6 million tons of coal, which adds harmful greenhouse gas emissions, along with toxic chemicals into our atmosphere and water.

Further scientific studies indicate wildlife is suffering the ill effects of excessive urban lighting.  The City of Chicago has taken measures to turn off or dim its high-rise lighting to enable migrating birds to continue normal migration patterns. An increase in species of insects attracted to light, along with rodent attraction to bright city lighting is a growing concern to many scientists. 

Heavy equipment product shots never look quite this good. Scheduled improvements to the viewing area above Reflection Lake, had some equipment taking a nap, before going to work when the sun came up.

Education Is the Solution to Light Pollution

The reason light pollution has continued to multiply is, we have grown accustomed to its seemingly benign expanding presence. After all, probably no one can point to a single case of a person killed from overexposure to light pollution?  However, there is a correlation to growing health risk associated with overexposure to artificial light in the form of physical fatigue and damage to eyesight. In 2009, the American Medical Association established a policy, which supports the control of light pollution.

Municipal lighting codes are beginning to help define and eliminate unnecessary light pollution. Lighting enforcement can create a more pleasing environment, by reducing excessive urban lighting, which causes fatigue from glare and cuts down on unnecessary electric utility cost. Redirecting outdoor lighting away from the sky where it is needlessly wasted is a simple and easy solution.

Installing motion detector security lights are another efficient and productive mitigation strategy. For security purpose, a light which is triggered by motion is much more effective for crime prevention than a continuous floodlight. Motion detector lights have a clear advantage of focussing our attention onto an area where there’s a sudden change from darkness to bright-light.

The Milky Way is what we should be able to see at night if it was not for unrestricted light-pollution. You can see the Andromeda Galaxy in the right 1/3 of the frame. Nikon D700 – Nikkor 28mm lens @ F3.5 @ 20 seconds August 11 11:48 p.m.

The encouraging news is… the key to reducing light pollution is a simple matter of basic education and action. Public awareness of over-lighting requires a minimal expenditure, which will quickly pay for itself in energy savings and perhaps return the opportunity to experience one of the greatest shows seen from earth. ~

Light pollution glossary:

Urban Sky glow: the brightening of night skies over municipal and communities. Caused primarily from collective reflected light and poorly directed light, which is pointed upward.

Light trespass: light falling or spilling into areas where it is not intended. Also know as “spill light” such municipal streetlights, which go beyond indented illumination of street signs and sidewalks and lighting residential homes.

Glare: A direct, bright or harsh light, which causes discomfort or pain. The effects of glare can be reduced or eliminated with the use of a shield or filter.

Uplight: Light angled inappropriately upward towards the sky and serving no purpose. Uplift washes out the night sky and reduces opportunities for astronomers and stargazers to enjoy the beauty of the planets, moon and stars.

Clutter: Poorly planned, confusing and unpleasant use of multiple lights usually associated with urban or retail lighting. Retail business sometime competes by using overly bright, multicolored or pulsating light

Links to articles & related resources on light pollution:

 http://www.darksky.org/assets/documents/is001.pdf

http://www.njaa.org/light.html

http://www.skymaps.com/articles/n0109.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_pollution

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/geopedia/Light_Pollution

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There’s Nothing New Under the Sun, or is There?

19 Jul July 15, 2012 aurora borealis sighting near Everett, WA. This event was caused from an X-class solar storm, which occurred within a week of another X-class storm (X-class being the most severe  classification). The 11-year solar cycle is approaching a solar maximum around 2013, this will most likely bring more intense solar storm activity.

Science Tech Tablet provides periodic updates on solar activity, the essay begins after the Space Weather Prediction Center Report

Prepared jointly by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA,
Space Weather Prediction Center and the U.S. Air Force.
Updated 2013 Jul 19 2200 UTC

Joint USAF/NOAA Solar Geophysical Activity Report and Forecast
SDF Number 200 Issued at 2200Z on 19 Jul 2013

IA.  Analysis of Solar Active Regions and Activity from 18/2100Z to
19/2100Z: Solar activity has been at very low levels for the past 24
hours. There are currently 7 numbered sunspot regions on the disk.

IB.  Solar Activity Forecast: Solar activity is likely to be low with a
slight chance for an M-class flare on days one, two, and three (20 Jul,
21 Jul, 22 Jul).

IIA.  Geophysical Activity Summary 18/2100Z to 19/2100Z: The geomagnetic
field has been at quiet to unsettled levels for the past 24 hours. Solar
wind speed, as measured by the ACE spacecraft, reached a peak speed of
674 km/s at 19/1650Z. Total IMF reached 12 nT at 18/2100Z. The maximum
southward component of Bz reached -9 nT at 19/0122Z. Electrons greater
than 2 MeV at geosynchronous orbit reached a peak level of 2710 pfu.

IIB.  Geophysical Activity Forecast: The geomagnetic field is expected
to be at unsettled to minor storm levels on day one (20 Jul), unsettled
to active levels on day two (21 Jul) and quiet to unsettled levels on
day three (22 Jul).

III.  Event probabilities 20 Jul-22 Jul
Class M    15/15/15
Class X    01/01/01
Proton     01/01/01
PCAF       green

IV.  Penticton 10.7 cm Flux
Observed           19 Jul 114
Predicted   20 Jul-22 Jul 115/115/115
90 Day Mean        19 Jul 121

V.  Geomagnetic A Indices
Observed Afr/Ap 18 Jul  016/015
Estimated Afr/Ap 19 Jul  011/014
Predicted Afr/Ap 20 Jul-22 Jul  014/020-011/015-008/010

VI.  Geomagnetic Activity Probabilities 20 Jul-22 Jul
A.  Middle Latitudes
Active                35/30/25
Minor Storm           20/10/05
Major-severe storm    05/01/01
B.  High Latitudes
Active                10/15/15
Minor Storm           25/30/30
Major-severe storm    50/40/30


 A multimedia eLearning essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights — First Addition

 Please note: This essay is a follow-up from my chronicle on solar storm effects of the 1859 Carrington Event on an industrial era society— forward to the postmodern, microelectronic world of today. To better understand the context of this article, it’s suggested you view my introduction solar storm essay found  by selecting the March 2012 archives found on left side of this page.  The National Academy of  Sciences (NAS) (funded by the U.S. Congress) produced a landmark report in 2008 entitled “Severe Space Weather Events— Societal Impacts.” It reported how people of the 21st-century depend on advance-technology systems for daily living, The National Academy of Science stated— Electric power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications can all be knocked out by intense solar activity.  A century-class solar storm, the Academy warned, could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina. [1] Some leading solar researchers believe we are now due for a century-class storm.                                

Photo courtesy of NASA

You’re encouraged to help make the essay interactive by entering comments or observations in the dialogue box at the end of the essay.
The essay is a work in progress, please check back as more content will be added
in the coming days.  — To see this essay in another format, please visit the site: http://www.BigPictureOne.wordpress.com
July 15, 2012 aurora borealis sighting near Everett, WA. This event was caused from an X-class solar storm, which occurred within a week of another X-class storm (X-class being the most severe classification). The 11-year solar cycle is approaching a solar maximum around 2013, this will most likely bring more intense solar storm activity.

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Depending on your interpretation of the essay’s title, there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to our neighboring star’s behavior. Since our Sun left its infancy as a protostar over 4 billion years ago, by triggering a nuclear fusion reaction and entering a main-sequence stage, its solar mechanics have maintained relative consistent patterns. What has not remained the same is the evolution of life on Earth, in particular, our species’ development of a civilization which now is dependent on a form of energy called electricity. Our Sun is now playing a version of solar roulette with the World’s social and economic future.

The name “aurora borealis” was given by Galileo Galilei, in 1619 A.D., inspired from the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and Boreas from the Greek name for north wind. First record siting was in 2600 B.C. in China. Collision between oxygen particles in Earth’s atmosphere with charged (ionized) particles released from the sun creates green and yellow luminous colors beginning at altitudes of 50 miles (80 kilometers). Blue or purplish-red is produced from nitrogen particles. The solar particles are attracted by the Earth’s northern and southern magnetic poles with curtains of light stretching east to west.

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Reaching back only a few generations into the 20th Century, electricity was considered a luxury—today ordinary life would be impossible without it! And that’s where our beloved Sun comes into the picture, to potentially cast a shadow on our dependency of electricity. Solar storms have been a reoccurring event before time began, but they didn’t affect people outside of providing a fantastic, special effects light-show  until a critical event happened in 1859.  

In the mid 19th century, while the industrial revolution was near full development, the resource of electric power was first harnessed. Shortly after electricity was put into use for communication using telegraph technology (a 19th century equivalent of the Internet), is when the Sun revealed                                                                                                     a  shocking surprise in the most powerful solar storm ever recorded, which was known a the Carrington Event.

The year 1859 was near a peak in the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle, when the Sun’s polarity readies for reversal. Approaching  the end  sequence of this magnetic shift, brings a solar maximum , which produces violent solar flares and ejects plasma clouds outwards into space. If the flare occurs in a region opposite of Earth, a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) may send a billion-ton radiation storm towards our planet. Fortunately, the Earth is protected by a robust atmosphere and a magnetic field surrounding the globe, which protects us from most  solar winds. However, an intense solar storm with its charged plasma cloud  can overwhelm our planet’s protective shields. When an extreme solar storm’s magnetic energy counteracts with our planet’s protective magnet field, it creates geomagnetic induced currents (GICs). GICs are massive amounts of electromagnetic energy which travel through the ground and ocean water, seeking the path of  least resistance in power lines, pipe lines and rail tracks. 

In the 1859, Carrington event, the GICs surged through the world’s emerging global communication system,known as the telegraph. So much power was generated from the solar storm entering the Earth’s atmosphere, it sent massive currents through telegraph wires, catching offices on fire, nearly electrocuting operators and  mysteriously continued sending signals with batteries completely  disconnected.     

A visual indication of the Earth’s magnetic field being overwhelmed occurs when the aurora borealis appears. If the cosmic-light-show can be seen near the tropics, it’s an indicator our planet’s magnetic fields are severely being overrun. In the extreme solar storm of 1859, the aurora borealis was seen near the equator and it was reported  people were able to read newspapers outdoors at midnight. Navigational compasses (19th century version of GPS)  throughout the world spun-out-of-control due to the flux of electromagnetic energy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
A more recent, dramatic example of a solar storm’s impact is the 1989, Quebec-Power blackout. The geomagnetic storm created was much milder than the solar maxim of the 1859, Carrington Event. However, it’s a chilling preview of what a complex, unprotected  electrical grid faces when up against the forces of super solar storm. Quebec-Power’s large transformers were fried by the GICs overloading its grid network. Electrical grids and power-lines  act like a giant antennas in pulling in the  massive flow of geomagnetic energy. In the 1989 solar storm incident, over 6 million people lost power in Eastern Canada and the U.S., with additional connecting power grids on the verge of collapsing.  Again, the powerful 1989 solar disturbance was not the 100 year super storm, but a small preview of what can if  preparations are made to protect the power grid.
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Solar scientist are now able to put together how extreme storms follow an 11 year solar maxim cycle, like the one we’re now entering, and should peak sometime in 2013. Already this year, six major X-class solar storms, the most intense type, have occurred since January. Within one week of July, we had two of the X-class storms, with last one pointing directly at Earth. On July 13, 2012, the Washington Post’s Jason Sometime, wrote an article with his concerns on how NASA and NOAA were sending out inconsistent warnings about the solar storm from July 12.

A spectrum of telecommunication may be lost during severe solar and geomagnetic storms. Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

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The federal agency FEMA, appears to have learned its’ lesson from Hurricane Katrina and being proactive with a series of super solar storm scenarios. These  scenarios  illustrate the many challenges towards maintaining communication and electric power, based on the strength of the solar event. Without reliable power, food distribution will be problematic. Today we have less reliance on large warehouse  inventories and more dependenancy on — “just in time” food delivery. According to Willis Risk Solutions (industrial underwriter insurer for electric utilities) and Lloyds World Specialist Insurer (formerly LLoyds of London), there’s a global shortage of industrial large electric transformer, which now are only made in a few countries. It would take years to replace the majority of the World’s electric transformers and technically require massive amounts of electric power, which ironically, would not be available in an event of an extreme geomagnetic storm.  http://www.lloyds.com/News-and-Insight/News-and-Features/360-News/Emerging-Risk-360/Transformers-a-risk-to-keeping-the-power-on-230810
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The companies and  the federal agencies mentioned in this essay, are overall, considered highly respected and cautious in forecasting major threats to societies and national economies. All of the mentioned government entities and scientific organizations realize it’s not a matter  if, but when will the next super solar storm be aimed and sent to Earth.
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The good news is we can still take the necessary precautions to protect our society and economic future form this clear and present threat. Here’s a link to the 2008 National Academy of Science (funded by congress) report:  Severe Weather—Understanding Societal and Economic Impact: A Workshop Report (2008). This group meets every year to work on preventative strategies. The report contains cost-effective protection plans for electric power grids, please see link provided.        http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12507 
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Second Addition: More to be added in the days ahead including…
— Update on U.S. House of Representatives and Senate sponsored  legislation for solar and geomagnetic storm preparedness.
— Electric power industry mitigation and preparedness for solar and geomagnetic storm preparedness.
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Chronicles of the largest solar and geomagnetic storms in the last 500 years.

1847  — First geomagnetic storm caused by solar flare inadvertently documented with telegraph technology.  Reports were the telegraph system was sending clearer signals by disconnecting its batteries and using the geomagnetic energy from the storm.  First published affects caused from geomagnetic storm.

1859  — Becomes known as the “Carrington Event;” telegraph system becomes inoperable worldwide as reports of offices are set on fire from supercharged telegraph wire. This is the largest geomagnetic storm in 500 years. Scientist impressed with the event begin documenting future solar storm activity. The destructive power from a storm of this magnitude would devastate global power grids, satellites, computer and communication systems.

1921 — Know as the “Great Storm,” it impacted  worldwide telegraph and radio signals with total blackouts  and cables were burned beyond use. This scale of geomagnetic storm is likely to occur approximately once every 100 years.  As we approach a century mark since this type of storm took place — it’s possible another one could happen at anytime, with devastating results unless preventative measures are taken.

1989 —  Major solar flare erupts on surface of the Sun opposite of Earth; a resulting solar storm trigers a massive geomagnetic storm, which overwhelms Quebec’s power grid. As a result of the storm, six million people instantly loses power as U.S. Northeast and Midwest connecting grids come within seconds of collapse. As a result, Canadian government becomes proactive and takes effort to protect its power grid from future solar storms.

2003 — Know as the “Halloween Storms” this series of geomagnetic storms disrupted GPS, blocked High Frequency (HF) radio and triggered emergency procedures a various nuclear power plants. In Scandinavia and South Africa, section of  power grids were hit hard, many large power transformers were destroyed by the powerful geomagnetic induced currents (GICs).

Chronological  Reports and News Accounts of Solar Storms From 1859 to 2003

This is one of the most comprehensive  list of solar storm accounts on the web. The site chronicles strange solar storm happenings; such as reports in the early 1960s  with TV programs suddenly disappearing and reappearing in other regions. Other unsettling reports include the U.S. being cutoff from radio communication from the rest of the world during a geomagnetic storm. Please see link below:

http://www.solarstorms.org/SRefStorms.html

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Solar Storm Acronyms and Terms

ACE — Advance Compositional Explore = NASA satellite used in detecting and monitoring potential damaging solar flares and CMEs.

AC — alternating current

BPS — bulk power system 

CME — coronal mass ejection = caused from a solar fare near the surface of the sun, which sends  a billion-ton radiation storm out into space.

EHV — extra high voltage

FERC — United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

GIC — geo-magnetic induced current = an extreme solar storm’s magnetic energy counteracts with our planet’s protective magnet field, creating electric current which conducts or travels through the ground or ocean water.

GMD — geo-magnetic disturbance

GAO — Government Accounting Office

GPS — global positioning system = A series of satellites positioned in an Earth, geostationary orbit for use in military and civilian navigation

NERC — North American Electric Reliability Corporation

NASA — National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NOAA — National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminestration

POES — Polar Operational Environmental Satellite

SEP — solar energetic particle

SOHO — Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (satellite)

STDC — Solar Terrestrial Dispatch Center (Canada)

STEREO — Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (Satellite)

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Sources and Links

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NASA Resources
Illustration courtesy of NASA
A useful illustration for understanding NASA’s efforts with Heliophysics System Observatory
Detail explanation of space weather and NASA monitoring can be found at the following link:   http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/spaceweather/index.html
NOAA Solar storm monitor sites:
NOAA is the nation’s official source of space weather alerts, monitoring and alerts. The following NOAA site provides realtime monitoring and forecasting of solar and geophysical events.  http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/
http://www.n3kl.org/sun/status.html

Washington Post story on conflicting NASA and NOAA solar forecast warnings for the July 12, 2012 solar storm event.
 http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/solar-storm-incoming-federal-agencies-provide-inconsistent-confusing-information/2012/07/13/gJQAkm06hW_blog.html

NASA and NOAA sites (post warning of impending dangers to the electrical grid from solar storms producing extreme geomagnetic induce currents (GICs) on Earth). http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2009/21jan_severespaceweather/ http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/26oct_solarshield/ http://www.noaawatch.gov/themes/space.php

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/mar/18/solar-storm-flare-disruption-technology

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/07/solar-flare-cme-aurora/

http://www.usfa.fema.gov/fireservice/subjects/emr-isac/infograms/ig2012/4-12.shtm#3

My solar storm articles from February www.bigpictureone.wordpress.com  and in the March addition of  www.ScienceTechTablet.wordpress.com  present a comprehensive picture of how solar flares and solar storms originate, with the potential of producing geomagnetic storms on Earth.  If these geomagnetic storms are severe enough, they can threaten our way of life. Some strategies and common sense precautions are offered  for civic preparedness in the case of an extreme solar event.

 

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Is there a greater champion for keeping America viable as the World leader in technology and science, than Senator Maria Cantwell?

6 Jun real_audio_BPP_e116

Late 1990’s photo-illustration to promote Real Audio and its affiliates. At that time: RA Vice President of Marketing , Maria Cantwell hired my multimedia services to create this futuristic, virtual reality view of Seattle.

Photos and essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights   Second—  Addition

The U.S. is in a must-win race, to continue as the clear leader of global competitiveness  in technology and science. No other stakes are higher or ensure greater returns for our nation’s security, economic health and cultural way-of-life.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington State has a proven record of properly managing the resources of public and private sector technology.  Global leadership requires well-informed oversight, which can fully employ, the most recent developments of  science and technology.  Ms. Cantwell’s earlier career as a successful executive in an emerging media technology company, gave her exceptional tech industry qualifications. A functional knowledge of computer engineering provided her a proactive view of emerging, 21st-century Information Technology (IT).  The Senator serves on five Senate Committees; perhaps the most critical for the nation’s position in world leadership is the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee.

Washington State is fertile ground for producing world leading, innovative technology companies.  Software development, Internet commerce, biotechnology and aerospace industries are the primary economic engines of the Pacific Northwest.  It’s fortunate for the State of Washington and the Nation, to have a representative who clearly recognizes the economic and technical potential of these dynamic industries.

Electricity, is, the lifeblood, which our current technologies rely on.  Electrical energy is not a luxury; it’s a necessity for our way-of-life, which society society takes for granted.  Vigilance from our national leaders is essential for protecting our crucial resources from natural and manmade disasters.

Cantwell’s first major accomplishment as a U.S. Senator began taking shape within the first days of being in office; by her focussing a national spotlight on deceptive energy market manipulations.  In December 2001, Enron—a onetime energy giant— filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, while laying-off thousands of its employees.  Enron had taken extreme advantage of deregulation within the energy industry.  Without legislative oversight the company was on a rampage of manipulating energy markets, while overcharging businesses and households millions of dollars.

In the 2005 Energy Bill, Senator Cantwell helped author provisions, which made it a federal crime to manipulate electricity or natural gas markets.  Cantwell also helped uncover evidence, which proved, ongoing deceptive schemes were used by Enron traders to target customers. With the energy company’s blatant deception made public, Senator Cantwell successfully stopped the bankruptcy court from forcing customers  in Washington State, to pay millions of dollars in “termination fees” for electricity which hadn’t been delivered.

Boeing 747 at Everett manufacturing facilities.

Affordable, reliable electricity was and remains today the essential resource, which allows dynamic industries to thrive in the Pacific Northwest.  Boeing aerospace, is a prime example, which could not exist without massive amounts of dependable electricity for its airline manufacturing.

Boeing’s flight line at Everett’s Paine Field.

The Senate’s Commerce, Subcommittee on Technology, Innovation and Competitiveness, has few Senators capable of engaging computer industry experts as Senator Cantwell demonstrated, with her IT background.  During hearings on High–Performance Computing Vital to America’s Competitiveness, Cantwell was able to facilitate important questions on supercomputing architecture and applications. The Senator also had the opportunity to introduce two industry witnesses from the Washington State, who gave examples of how these technologies were advancing research & development to support manufacturing.

High-performance computing are the latest concepts for maximizing the power of supercomputers and networks for advance scientific research and it’s rapidly being embraced by a variety of key industry sectors. These powerful computer systems reach trillions of calculations per second, enabling discoveries not possible with standard computers. High-level computers are now used in a number of applications such as: accurately forecasting weather fronts, DNA modeling and  National Security.

 Internet2, which is a next-generation Internet Protocol and optical network, has the bandwidth performance needed for transferring high-volumes of  data produced by supercomputers.  A new national network, Level 3 Communications can now transfer 100 Gbit/s, which is a 100-percent improvement over Internet2. These high-speed secure networks are primarily used by academic and medical research for universities, in many cases the collaborative R&D will eventually  find an industry application.

At the Senate’s subcommittee, witness, Michael Garret, Director, Airplane Performance for the  Commercial Airplane Division of the Boeing Company, described to Cantwell and the other Senators how high-performance computing dramatically changed Boeing’s aerospace design process. In one example, Garret shared how Boeing had saved 80-percent, in the number of wing designs for the new, 787 Dreamliner.

Boeing 787-Dreamliner preparing for its first “maiden flight,” at Paine Field, Everett Washington.

If our intention for the Nation is to remain a leader in science, technology and commerce, we need more representatives in the Senate,  such as Senator Cantwell.  Our national elected representatives must understand the current and future potential of these advanced computer systems—to keep America technologically, economically, and militarily viable.  Fortunately, we and our  Nation’s Senate have Cantwell to help enable critical question on how to retain our leadership through high-performance computing and a new spectrum of technologies. ~

Senator Cantwell at one of her fundraiser, sharing her views on technology and education.

It’s important I share with you that Maria Cantwell and I have been friends for many years.  She hired me to photograph her when she first ran for congress and generously credits my photography for helping her get elected.  When she latter became an IT executive, she again hired my multimedia services to help promote and market Real Networks in Seattle. I’ve included some photos of Ms. Cantwell at a May fundraising event with campaign supporters and close friends.

Ms. Cantwell being introduced by Jim Johanson at a fundraising event in Edmonds, Washington.

Senator Cantwell has agreed to answer a series of interview questions from me, on science and technology related issues. The format for the interviews has yet to be confirmed, but there will be at least a text version and possibly, a  video one as well on the ScienceTechTablet and BigPictureOne multimedia sites. The interviews will take place sometime over this summer. One of my questions will be related to a photo-essay I wrote this year on the current Solar Storm cycle, which will be peaking by 2013.  Specifically. her views will be asked of how ready we are—in comparison to the 1989 Solar Storm, which caused Hydro-Quebec’s power grid to crash and leave millions of its customers with no electricity.

I mentioned to  Cantell that the Science Technology Engineering & Math (STEM) Advisory for Edmonds School District, which I volunteer as a committee members, will launch a STEM Magnet school at Mountlake Terrace High School for 2012 -2013. The Senator was very enthusiastic with the news, as she is a big supporter of the education program. MLTH was also in her former district when she was a state representative, living in Mountlake Terrace. Questions on how we can attract and support more programs, such as STEM, will be on the interview list.

If you have a science or technology question which relates to the United States for Senator Cantwell, please write it down in the response section bellow this story or email me with your interview question. I will do my best to ask your questions with the time available for the interviews.

A gathering of friends and supporters with Senator Cantwell. From left to right: Jim Johanson. Patrick MacDonald – former Seattle Times music critic, Maria Cantwell, Carmen lisa Valencia, David A. Johanson

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