UpFront: Why Herbert Voelcker?
By Brian J. Hogan
Each year, Manufacturing Engineering selects an individual who has made a significant contribution to modern manufacturing technology for coverage in our Masters of Manufacturing cover article.We have certain goals in mind when we prepare these stories for you.
First of all, we want to make it very clear that modern manufacturing technology did not emerge spontaneously, like crabgrass on a new lawn. It is the product of creative minds, and the individuals responsible for that innovation should be acknowledged by a world that is forever in their debt.When you use CNC, a PLC, a telescoping ball bar, an industrial robot, or any other element of modern manufacturing, please remember that it was created by a person who chose to devote time and sweat to the study of manufacturing issues.
Secondly, we want to demonstrate that a career of immense accomplishment is possible in manufacturing. The persons we have recognized in our Masters of Manufacturing series—John Parsons, Richard Morley, M. Eugene Merchant, Joseph Juran, Joseph Engelberger, James Bryan, and David McMurtry, are giants of manufacturing technology. Their work has impacted the lives of people all over the world, and will continue to do so for as far ahead in time as anyone can see.
Great work is being done these days by manufacturing engineers and researchers. Significant contributions to manufacturing, contributions that will matter to generations to come, are being made by tomorrow's Masters of Manufacturing. No matter what you may have heard, innovation in manufacturing lives on.
Our current Masters of Manufacturing subject is Herbert Voelcker, professor emeritus of engineering at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY). Although he has contributed, and continues to contribute, to many areas of manufacturing technology,Voelcker is recognized specifically for his part in developing the solid model.
When you download data from a CAD model to your machine controller, you are employing technology to which Herbert Voelcker made significant contributions. His work was critical to developing the basic mathematical tools needed to unambiguously describe 3-D parts.
In a time when so much negativity is associated with great manufacturing firms like General Motors and Chrysler, we cannot forget the role of manufacturing in creating national wealth. For any society that wishes to be successful,manufacturing is a core competency, not an optional luxury. Manufacturing is the field of applied science which takes the concepts of designers and inventors, acts upon them using tools developed by the application of science and mathematics, and creates moderately priced products that meet human needs. In this issue, we celebrate Herbert Voelcker's contributions to this vital field.
This article was first published in the July 2009 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.