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Alumni Mag<

SPRING 1991

Real World Robots Also Inside • Public Policy Studies • BarCodes • Innovators, Research and the Cliou File

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(^DKGIATECH VOL. 66 NO. 4

Alumni Magazine

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STAFF John C. Dunn, editor Gerry G< >ettling, associate editor Gary Meek, Margaret Barrett photography Everett Hiillum, design Wayne Parker, advertising

PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE Louis Gordon Sawyer Sr., NS '46, chairman Chairman, Sawyer-RileyCompton Inc., Atlanta William Guy" Arledge, IM 71 Manager Advertising, BellSouth Corp., Atlanta McKinley "Mac" Conway Jr., GE '40 President. Conway Data Inc.. Sorcross, Ga. Hubert L. Harris Jr., IM '65 President. Investco Services Inc.. Atlanta McAllister "Mac" Isaacs III, TEX '60 Executive Editor, Textile World. Atlanta Perry Pascarella Vice President-Editorial Penton Publishing, Cleveland. Ohio George A. Stewart Jr., AE '69 Vice I 'resident-Marketing, Development, Dittler Brothers Inc., Atlanta James M. Langley Vice President External Affairs. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta JohnB. Carter Jr., IE'69 Vice President and Executive Director, Georgia Tech Alumni Association, Atlanta Wayne J. Parker, IM 74 Associate Vice President/ Associate Executive Director. Georgia Tech Alumni Association, Atlanta

SPRING 1961

Real World Robots

11

There's a big difference between the Hollywood image of robots and the sort of robotics engaging Tech scientists. Written by John Toon COVER: Tech scientist Wayne Book is researching ways to replace tough steel with fragile silicon to improve the precision of long robot arms that will help build the space station Freedom. See stoty beginning on page 11.

The Study of Grays

21

For the past 10 years, a program of technology and science policy has helped train engineers in public decision-making. Written by Mark Hodges

Bar Codes Bar None

27

Those ubiquitous bar codes are helping k e e p track of the volume of m o d e m life. • Written by Michael Pousner

OEPAFLTiVLFJNiiS Letters Questions concerning restructuring; math puzzle answers.

5

Technotes

6

Olympics housing; T-nappers; in Arthur's footsteps; Tech Coke; No. 1 tag; women, minorities on campus; T-Day; cheerleaders; computers for bytes; car design competition; math puzzle answers.

Innovators

33

Kathryn Vance Logan CE 70,; Gilbert Amelio Phy '65.

Research

37

Wastewater treatment; sports drinks; rainfall variations and climate; secrets of combustion. M i n d Over Math

40

Profile Mei-Yin Chou: A rising star in physics.

42

GEORGIA TECH ALUMNI MAGAZINE

is published quarterly for Roll Call contributors by the Georgia Tech Alumni Association. Send correspondence and changes of address to-. GEORGIA TECH ALUMNI MAGAZINE, Alumni/Faculty House, 225 North Avenue

NW, Atlanta, GA 30332-0175 • Editorial: (404) 894-4646 Advertising: (404) 894-2391 • Fax: (404) 894-5113 © 1991 Georgia Tech Alumni Association GEORGIA TECH • Contents 3


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LETTERS It's All in the Name Editor: I was very disappointed to read in your Winter '91 issue the sad news that the Regents have approved Tech's offering degrees in history, technology and science: and science, technology and culture. You also reported that an undergraduate degree in international affairs and a graduate degree in public policy are being considered, with a decision expected by the 1992. Many alumni Roll Call appeals have been made on the basis that alumni should have a strong interest in maintaining the quality of their degrees. I have long subscribed to that thesis, but President John P. Crecine and the Regents have blasted it into smithereens. Have they

lost sight of the fact that technology is the last word in our school's name? H.S. Branch Jr., EE'51 Goodlettsville, Tenn.

Emphasize Engineering Editor: I was dismayed to read [Winter 199H that Tech is now authorized to award degrees in humanities and social sciences. At a time when the nation needs more engineers in order to compete effectively in world affairs, the interests of Tech, its alumni, and the nation are better served by reserving our assets for engineering and science, and leaving the liberal arts to the University of Georgia. Athletic prominence is scant compensation for the

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Editor's note: Changes in Georgia Tech's curriculum are designed to complement its existing strengths, says Dr. Michael E. Thomas, acting executive vice president and head of the restructuring effort. The realities of a changing world make such improvements necessary, Thomas adds, and it does not follow that other areas must suffer. For a look at how technology and social sciences work together in a practical way, see the article on page 21.

A Puzzling Puzzle Editor: I must concede that math was not one of my outstanding subjects, although I did get an "A" in Doc Fulmer's Math 301 the second time around. And while having been relatively inactive in daily math for over 40 years can cause temporary ignorance, some of the crosspoints of "Mind Over Math" just don't cross. W.H. Foster Jr., EE '49 Jonesboro, Ga.

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Editor's note: We apologize for the typos which appeared in last issue's puzzle, the solution to which appears at left. The answer to this issue's "Mind Over Math" may be found on page 10.

Thankyou to the official sponsors of the 1 i

GEORGIA TECH ALUMNI MAGAZINE •

• Acme Business Products • Ball Stalker • C&SBank • The Coca-Cola Company • Delta Air Lines • Diamond Brostrom • First Atlanta • Hyatt Regency Ravinia • Lanier Plaza Hotel & Conference Center • Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta • Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead • Technology Park/Atlanta • Wyndham Hotel

GEORGIA TECH • Letters

5


TECHNOTES The hi's and Out's of Olympic housing The plan for twin 28story Olympic towers straddling North Avenue at Techwood Drive has been shelved by Tech officials while they search for alternatives that will not exacerbate an already serious shortage of residence halls on campus. The original proposal would have necessitated demolition of Smith, Brown and Techwood dorms to make way for the new structure, which would contain apartments for Olympic athletes and, after the Games, for college students. One option under consideration would retain one tower on the site of the existing Techwood dorm, which would then

be leased to Georgia State and Atlanta University Center students after the 1996 Olympics. Additional housing would be built at several other locations on campus, and become Tech dorms after the Games.

T-Nappers Thwarted by New Tech T-curity An attempt to purloin one of the T's on the Tech Tower was thwarted recently when an alarm was tripped, scaring off the would-be T-nappers. While rumors that the famous consonant is wired have circulated for years, only recently has the alarm mechanism become operational. The west-facing T,

T-Time: Is this the end of a hallowed Tech tradition? which is usually the one stolen because it is the most accessible, is connected to what appears to be (and sounds like) a car alarm, according to anonymous sources. One other T may be

Following the Footsteps (or Two-Steps) of Success Not many people would connect famed dance instructor Arthur Murray with Georgia Tech. But Murray, 95, who died of pneumonia at his home in Honolulu on March 3, got a foothold on his career while a student at Tech. A member of the class of 1923, Murray taught dancing to pay for college, but eventually was making so much money that he dropped out of school to waltz full time. While a student in 1920, Murray organized the world's first "radio dance." A band located on campus played "Ramblin' Wreck" and other songs, which were broadcast to a group of about 150 dancers—mostly Tech students—situated atop the roof of the Capital City Club in downtown Atlanta. In 1923 the innovative Murray hit upon the idea of offering dance lessons by mail, and found an unexpected use of the mechanical drawing experience he gained at Tech—drawing footprint diagrams of dance steps. *

6

GEORGIA TECH • Spring 1991

similarly protected, the informant noted, but a spokesman for the Tech Police Department declined comment on possible security measures. Will the alarm end a hallowed Tech tradition? Anyone who thinks so has never met George P. Burdell.

The No. 1 Pause That Refreshes The Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Atlanta has honored Georgia Tech's No. 1 football team by issuing a special commemorative Coke bottle. The bottle displays Buzz on one side and a game-bygame scoring summary on the other. The company produced 500,000 of the popular collectibles, which are available while supplies last at the Georgia Tech bookstore and at Atlanta area supermarkets.


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OFFICIAL SPONSOR ALUMNI MAGAZINE


TECHNOTES

Changing Times Reflected in New-Applicant Demographics Georgia Tech has experienced an increase in undergraduate and graduate acceptance rates among minorities and women, according to Dr. Michael E. Thomas, acting executive vice president. The number of female applicants is up 10 percent while the acceptance rate for w o m e n is u p 20 percent. The number of black students applying to Tech has doubled to 27 percent, with three-fourths of those students gaining acceptance to Tech, Thomas said. The numbers are good news for the Tech administration, which has set several enrollment goals to be reached by 1996. Those objectives in-

SAT score from 1,188 to 1,225. An Enrollment Task Force chaired by Alumni . Association Executive Director John B. Carter Jr., IE '69, has addressed student recruitment and retention concerns, and recommended a sweeping reorganization of all student services and allied operations.

The number of female applicants to Tech is up 10 percent, while their acceptance rate has increased by 20 percent elude increasing the number of female students to 35 percent of the student body; increasing minority enrollment to 28 percent; increasing the student retention rate from 60 percent to 85 percent; and raising the average student

According'to the task force's report, issued on Jan. 29, "A change in the attitude toward, and in the service provided to, our prospective students and current students is an absolute must if Georgia Tech is to continue to attract and retain the quality student that w e have built our reputation u p o n for more than 100 years."

No.l Every Year! W h e n Robert F. Gooding ordered his state of Georgia prestige license plate, "little did I k n o w h o w significant the message was to become." His foresight was finally rewarded w h e n the Yellow Jackets w o n the Citrus Bowlâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and the top spot in UPTs ranking. Gooding, a 1968 industrial management graduate, has ordered the plate every year since 1983-

Georgia Tech Alumni Association Board of Trustees Officers Shirley C. newborn EE '56 president Oliver H. S.ilejr. Mi: '56 past president John C Statonjr. IM '60 preside/!I -cli'cltreasurer II. Hammond Stith |r CE '58 vice president 'activities G. William Knight II '62, MSIM '68 vice president 'communications Frank II. Maierjr, IM '60 vice president/Roll CaU John B. Carter Jr. IF '69 vice president 'executive director James M. J.ingley vice president, external affairs

Trustees Kay Elizabeth Adams IMGT 7 4 Theodore Arno II TEXT '49 James I). Blitch III IE '53 Stanley L. Daniels ARCH '60 II. Guy Darnell Jr. IM '65

[oseph T, Dyer il '69 Edwin G ickles ARCH 5Z Jack J. Faussemagne IM '65 Frank It. Fortson EE 71 Albert 1. Candy IF so Don IV Guldens AE '63, MSAE '65,

P. O w e n I lerrin Jr. IM 7 0 Brian I). Hogg IM Ml G. Paul Jones Jr. MF '52

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PhD '67 Jere W. Goldsmith IV IM 'so Thomas B. Gurley EE '59

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Hubert I.. Harris TrIM '65

S. [oseph WarclIM 'si

Howard T, Tellepsenjr. CE '66

GEORGIA TECH â&#x20AC;˘ Technotes

9


TECHNOTES

Ri-Milers, on Your Mark: T-Day Fun Ahead Saturday, April 27 will be be an "all-day, T-Day" affair on campus. The Griffin Pi-Mile Road Race, Pi-Mile Walk and Fun Run will be held in the morning, with registration beginning at 7:30. At 2 p.m., the Yellow Jackets baseball team takes on Clemson. The annual alumni barbeque is set for 5 p.m., and will also feature music and prizes. At 7 p.m., the No. 1 football Jackets will hold an intra-squad scrimmage at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field. Proceeds from the game benefit the Dodd-Carmichael Scholarship Fund. For tickets or other information about T-Day activities, contact the Georgia Tech Alumni Association at (404) 894-2391.

"Buzz words"—autographs from Tech's mascot— are thepiece de resistance for all ages on T-Day.

Cheerleaders Viefor Title This time, it's the cheerleaders who are getting the applause. Tech's squad has a. chance to capture a national championship of its own at the Universal Cheerleaders Association annual competition, set for April 4-8 in San Antonio. In preliminary judging among all Division 1-A contenders, Tech finished in 7th place, thereby earning a

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GEORGIA TECH • Spring 1991

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spot among the 16 finalists headed for the finals in Texas. This is the first time Tech cheerleaders have competed in the event.

Techwood Tutorial Project, in which Tech students volunteer their time to tutor children in those two schools. Alumni who would like to help are encouraged to send their Kroger receipts to the Techwood Tutorial Project, Student Center, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA 30332-0458.

Tech Students Engineering New Car Fortnula Members of Georgia Tech Motorsports

Food for Thought (Byte by Byte) Georgia Tech students are helping to bring computers to two Atlanta elementary schools by collecting receipts from Kroger supermarkets. For every $400,000 worth of receipts collected, Kroger will donate a computer to both the Fowler Street and C.W. Hill elementary schools. The drive is being conducted under the auspices of the

(above) display their entry in the National Society of Automotive Engineers formula competition, scheduled for Ma)- 17-18 in Detroit. A team of 20 students designed and built the vehicle, which must be an open-cockpit, openwheel car powered by a four-stroke engine, according to contest rules. Last year, the Tech racers placed second among the 41 participants from universities located in the U.S. and Canada.


Real World

BOIS

From Lost in Space's "Robbie" to Star Wars' R2D2 to Disney World pixie-like purple products, there's a Hollywood image of robots. But that's not the sort of robotics that is engaging scientists at Georgia Tech Written b y J o h n Toon â&#x20AC;˘ Photographed b y Gary Meek

I

n a starkly clean room of Tech's Microelectronics Research Center, Mark Allen studies a speck of shiny copper no larger than the period at the end of this sentence. Under the microscope, the speck turns out to be quite remarkable: It's a tiny motor just 300 microns in diameter and 50 microns thick. Electroplated into a mold carefully machined from polyimide plastic, the motor may one day power a robotic actuator small enough to operate on the surface of an integrated circuit. Robotics research at Georgia Tech ranges from barely visible micromachines to gangly flexible arms that may one day help clean up nuclear wastes. It includes wheeled "agents" testing control strategies to help autonomous robots survive on Mars, automated guided vehicles for swiftly delivering parts on the factory floor, computer-controlled processing lines that will improve life for poultry workers, clever construction machines designed for service on the Moon, friendly arms that work with the disabled, and robots that will

help astronauts do chores. In between are the components that make them work: inexpensive vision systems, new control strategies, spherical motors, telerobotic controls, instmments to simulate the environment, and better techniques for man-machine interface. Wayne Book hopes to replace tough steel with fragile silicon to improve the precision of long robotic arms that may be used to build space station Freedom. For years, designers have tried to make robots more precise by giving them more brawn, but Book hopes to replace steel with the computing power of silicon. Robot arms carried into space must be lightweight, but making them lighter causes a flexibility that Book compares to a fisherman's fly rod. For machines built with more than one arm, the flexibility becomes

extremely complex. But just as a good trout fisherman uses a rod's flexibility to put a fly right where the fish are biting, so Book plans to use computing power to put the arm right where a construction astronaut would need it. "If we move the small arm, we shake the large arm," he explains. "But if we move it in the right way, we stop the shaking. By generating reaction forces, we can stop the large arm from vibrating." To navigate around in the world, autonomous robots must be able to learn about their environment. That need has led to development of high-quality vision systems which see like humansâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and cost as much as $20,000. Continued next page

The robot "arm" (above), as big as a human being yet sensitive enough to pick up an egg, is designed to allow NASA astronauts to conduct "sealed off experiments in compact space. A smaller version has the potential to replace human limbs. GEORGIA TECH â&#x20AC;˘ Robotics 1 1


From micromachines to Mars explorers, Tech researchers are advancing robotics to solve 21st century problems.

A group headed by Steve Dickerson in the School of Mechanical Engineering has turned the problem around, designing an inexpensive vision system that produces lowquality images which turn out to be just right for robots. Using a simple pinhole lens, a low-cost chargecoupled device, some cheap processing chips and the retro-reflective paint used in highway markings, Dickerson's group is testing a vision system that could be built for a few hundred dollars. Kok-Meng Lee uses that system to feed assembly robots, solving a problem that now makes robots too costly for many assembly operations. Before a robot can pick up a part, it must know exactly where the part is located. Until now, the only way to assure that parts would be in the proper place was to put them in a special tray. But designing and building a tray for each part raises the cost and reduces the flexibility of an assembly line. Lee instead places the parts in a clear plastic tray. When the tray moves to a pickup location, it stops above a strip of retro-reflective material, which bounces back nearly all the light it receives. The light produces a high-contrast silhouette image of the parts, giving the vision system a dull but well-defined image of what's in the tray. "The machine doesn't have to know how nice the, part looks," says Lee. "What the machine needs is to accurately know the position of the part and its orientation. Something good for a human being is not necessarily good for a machine." How should you tell a robot what to do? You could talk to it, but speech recognition is not yet reliable enough. You could type commands 12

GEORGIA TECH â&#x20AC;˘ Spring 1991

on a keyboard, but that's slow and sometimes imprecise. Joysticks work, but give no feedback about forces working against the robot. Harvey Lipkin believes the answer lies in a force-feedback joystick that pushes back against an operator's directions to give feedback on the environment affecting the robot. The joystick would even stop abruptly if the robot crashed into a wall. "The problem is to get this faithful reproduction of the forces to the human operator," he notes. "That's important because many things you do are force-sensitive. If you can give the human a sense of feel, you can increase system sensitivity."

M

echanical components are just one part of a robotic system; software-based control algorithms tell the machine what to do. Researchers in the School of Mechanical Engineering are developing improved control schemes which allow robots to learn from their experiences and adapt to changes in their tasks. "The idea is very much like the way human beings learn to perform an operation: simply by repeating a task over and over again," explains Nader Sadegh. "After every cycle, the controller looks back at the history of its failures and learns to adjust itself so that the next cycle is better." Sadegh is using these "learning controllers" to improve the performance of existing industrial robots, significantly boosting their ability to perform precise motions after as few as three learning cycles. The control algorithm can be contained on a few computer chips, making it relatively inexpensive to add. And because the system does not require detailed knowledge of a robot's operating

system, it can be applied to a wide range of equipment. In hostile environments likenuclear power plants, many unknown factors could hamper the operation of a robotic system. Ye-Hwa Chen is using fuzzy logic and neuralnetwork technology to give robots the intelligence they need to work in these environments. "When you know so little about an environment that most information cannot be quantified by our traditional scientific methods, fuzzy logic can be helpful," Chen notes. If the range of temperatures to be encountered is not known, for instance, the robot may simply be told that the working area is "very hot." That limited knowledge helps the robot begin its task. In repetitive operations, robots could benefit from neural networks, which, like the human brain itself, facilitate the learning of difficult operations. Chen believes the two concepts could even work together: fuzzy logic allowing a robot to begin its task in a relatively unknown environment while its neural-network system builds up information to help it perform the job better and better. In the College of Computing, Daryl Lawton examines the problems of how to command robots operating at a great distance, perhaps under the sea. The time required for a signal to reach the operator and the Continued next page

At right, Dr. Kok-Meng Lee holds a spherical motor (also shown at the top of this page) that provides three degrees of movement in a single joint, gready enhancing a robot's dexterity. Dr. Lee and his graduate students are also studying ways to improve robot vision for assembly operations.


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Someday humans may have a parentchild relationship with robots that are capable of learning. limited amount of information which can be transmitted makes direct "driver" control nearly impossible. So he's working on a scheme that uses the human as a kind of tele-robotic consultant, leaving the robot in primary control. "Instead of directly driving the vehicle, the human takes sensory information from the vehicle and interprets it interactively," says Lawton, who also holds an appointment in the Electro-Optics lab of the Georgia Tech Research Institute. "The vehicle uses that interactive interpretation to control its activity. It's a kind of semiautonomous control." An object moving toward the undersea robot could be a friendly fish or an enemy submarine. Giving the robot intelligence to determine the object's true identity would make it more complex, costly and less robust. So Lawton would have the robot rely on a human to interpret data from vision systems or other devices to make that identification.

I

t seems like a simple enc >ugh task: Move a halfdozen metal discs from one side of a volleyball court to another, all within three minutes. But for the 10 groups of students who have taken on the challenge, it will be a real test of their ability to design and construct autonomous aerial robots able to locate, retrieve and transport the discs without human intervention. "It's very much of a technical challenge," explains Rob Michelson, a senior research engineer with the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), and vice president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems (AUVS), which is sponsoring the competition. "Once the vehicle is

started, each robot must travel on its own, using its own machine vision to perceive the environment." Earlier robotic events have demonstrated autonomous operation for ground-based vehicles, but the aerial competition—believed to be the first of its kind—will add flight-stability problems to the challenges facing the students. Artificial intelligence systems guiding the vehicles will know approximately where the discs are located, where the obstacles are, and where the discs must be placed. Michelson

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n the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, S. Manivannan believes humans could have a parent-child relationship with robots that are capable of learning from the world. To work on a factory floor or the side of a modern office building, the robot would be told about the environment — but prepared to learn from real-life experiences. Given design information about the side of a building, for instance, a robotic window washer should be able to do its job without expensive vision or guidance systems. If it encounters an obstruction, however, the robot would add information about the problem ; to its memory, allowing it to avoid '• the situation in the future. Continued page 16 14

GEORGIA TECH • Spring 1991

SOLO RIGHT Tech students hope for win in firstever aerial robotics competition


hopes the July 29 event—to be held on the Georgia Tech campus—will demonstrate the potential of unmanned aerial robots to handle "dull, dirty and dangerous" tasks for both military and commercial users. A team of 26 Tech students is working under a cloak of secrecy to build an aerial robot for the competition. Rival teams are expected from California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Texas, California Polytechnic University, Edinburgh University (United Kingdom), Mississippi State University, —

the University of Alabama, the University of Dayton and Washington State University. The winning team will receive a $10,000 prize to fund further study of the issues involved. For Steve Ingalls, an aerospace engineering student who is heading up preparation of the Georgia Tech entry, the competition offers an opportunity for interdisciplinary groups of students to work together, bringing resources from aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, computing, civil engineering, electrical engineering and GTRI. Student competitors may receive assistance from private industry. The Tech students have teamecuup with

the U.S. Army's Aerospace Structures Directorate at Langley, Va. Also lending assistance are Pacific RPV Inc. of Washington, D.C., which has furnished a small helicopter originally designed for radio control movie work, and Atlanta-based Guided Systems Technology. "We are hoping to develop a broad base of knowledge that will carry this project out for a number of years," Ingalls says. "We're really excited about it, but I don't think we have really grasped how difficult it will be." —John Toon

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GEORGIA TECH • Robotics

15


One goal of Tech's researchers is to produce robots that help U.S. companies improve productivity "The tendency now is to make the robot learn and know everything before it starts to work," Manivannan explains. "In a knowledge-based system, you make the robot learn as it goes along and have the humans interact with it."

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ut for robots exploring distant planets, human help will be too far away. So Ron Arkin is giving these autonomous robots the instincts and reflexes, they will need to survive, modeling them on a well-proven control strategy: the behavior systems of animals. "There are already systems capable of accomplishing the tasks we are trying to accomplish," says Arkin. "Animals already do what we are trying to get our robots to do." Individual ants work together on complex tasks without the kind of communication humans would require. Arkin is now exploring how autonomous robotic "agents" might similarly work together with little or no communication. In the School of Electrical Engineering, George Vachtsevanos and others are tackling the problem of integrating sensors, actuators, control algorithms, artificial intelligence and the other systems robots will need to work in the world of the future. "We are looking at a vertical technology development that combines elements of sensing, actuation and control," he says. "This is quite a difficult task because it involves the integration of a number of disciplines." The early euphoria about the potential of robots died in the realization of their tremendous complexities. Vachtsevanos expects the third generation of robots to offer more 16

GEORGIA TECH â&#x20AC;˘ Spring 1991

intelligence and autonomy, allowing them to roam around even a cluttered environment by themselves. Astronauts working on Space Station Freedom will face a full schedule of scientific experiments, observation, maintenance, and other activities. To help them get those chores done, Mike Burrow is building a compact robot arm to automate some experimental tasks. "The robot would operate entirely within its compartment. An astronaut would place a specimen into a passthrough box. The robot would then open the other door, pull the specimen out, and perform the experiment," Burrow explains. In addition to freeing up astronaut time, the machine would also shield humans and the space station from ; potentially hazardous materials released in the experiments. With two degrees of freedom at its wrist,

elbow and shoulder joints, the arm could reach everywhere within its enclosure. Through the Center for Rehabilitation Technology, Burrow helps disabled office workers by using a nearly identical arm. Part of an integrated workstation, the arm manipulates floppy disks and retrieves reading materials, giving the worker a new-found independence. Roozbeh Kangari, professor of civil engineering, has seen the future of the construction industry in robotics research being done by Japanese companies. In a year of study in Japan, he saw experimental robots that may make round-the-clock "lights off' construction possible within ten years. When that happens, he predicts, Japanese construction companies will be able to complete a building in half the time and half the cost of companies working with


repetitive motions which put a strain on workers, while the moisture and\ cold make attracting employees more and more difficult. One answer might be to automate poultry processing, but those same working conditions also pose serious challenges to robots. Moisture is a natural enemy of the electrical actuators, vision systems and computer equipment. The soft and

old-fashioned humans. Already, he reported, prototype robots spray insulation on structural steel, install ceiling panels, smooth concrete, paint walls and handle a host of other jobs now done by humans. Civil engineering robots could also be used in hazardous areas such as nuclear power plants, deep mines or tunnels. "In Japan, nobody is interested in construction work, so there is a shortage of labor," he says. "Because of that, they are aggressively moving in the direction of automation and robotics."

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abor shortages also concern the poultry-processing industiy, one of Georgia's top employers. Many poultry jobs involve complex

slippery nature of the product, along with its variations in size, requires a degree of flexibility difficult to attain in robots. And the work must be done in clean conditions to prevent food contamination. Chris Thompson and other engineers of the Georgia Tech Research Institute have built a prototype robotic work cell which takes a big first step toward solving those problems. The work cell has attracted visitors from around the world, and Thompson believes the lessons learned may one day help move humans out of the more unpleasant parts of the poultry-processing plant. Boosting productivity has been a major goal of U.S. companies over the past

decade. In many manufacturing facilities, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) now follow wireguides or colored stripes on the floor as they haul material from one location to another.

B

ut what happens when factory processes change and the AGV paths must be redesigned? Moving the wires or stripes is costly, and greatly limits the flexibility of automation. So researchers including Ron Bohlander, Wiley Holcombe, John Larsen and Brett Lapin have been exploring alternative guidance techniques using ultrasonic sensors, special correlating cameras that measure distance traveled, and simple vision systems that track landmarks on factory walls. By combining information from these sources, robots can venture Continued

Enormous robot "boom arms" are being designed to help space station astronauts perform tasks that are out-of-reach or in hazardous locations. Tech scientist Mike Burrow (above) has adapted the arm for use by disabled office workers. The arm can manipulate floppy disks and retrieve reading materials. GEORGIA TECH â&#x20AC;˘ Robotics

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Robotics now faces the same turning point personal computers experienced in the 1970s. away from their wireguides and colored stripes. Researchers are also giving AGVs an ability to learn from their own navigation mistakes. But for many companies, use of AGVs may simply not be economical. Leon McGinnis and Marc Goetschalckx have developed a computer software system to help company engineers analyze their material handling needsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and determine whether AGVs are right for them. "Like any other expensive technology, users must be sure this is really the system they need," McGinnis points out. "Using a CAD interface, a knowledgeable engineer can sit down and in a few hours do a rough analysis of the application. From that, you can get a good, ballpark idea of the cost." The system asks for information on the materials to be moved, the size of the factory floor, and the locations of the production stations. It then provides feedback on the minimum number of AGVs needed, the amount of guidepath required and, therefore, the approximate cost. Short of testing it in the field, how can engineers know if their control algorithms work? Andrew Dugenske of the Georgia Tech Research Institute has built a testbed for simulating how robotic control strategies would work in the real world. His micromanipulator interacts with a robotic device by simulating a general environment which a robot may encounter. Because it is electronic, the device can simulate a wide range of parameter values, such as viscous damping, which may be present in the environment. It can even interject disturbances for testing the robustness of a control scheme. The success of future robotic systems will ultimately depend on how 18

GEORGIA TECH â&#x20AC;˘ Spring 1991

Ron Arkin is working to give survival instincts to autonomous robots. well engineers can make complex systems work together. Some of those engineers will come from the senior design class taught by Jim Brazell in the School of Mechanical Engineering.

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n 1988, Brazell's students gave the world "SKITTER," a threelegged lunar walker model that won a prestigious design competition and was exhibited in Atlanta's SciTrek Museum. His students are now designing mechanical systems that can withstand conditions on the moon. Temperature extremes, abrasive dust, solar radiation and gravity onesixth that of Earth are a few of the environmental conditions for which special design considerations must be made. The moon's low gravity, for instance, does not provide sufficient traction for conventional work vehicles to operate. At the same time, those vehicles must be lightweight and compact. "It requires a whole different concept," notes Brazell, who began the design class with assistance from the Universities Space Research Association, which is funded by NASA to attract students into engineering in space. USRA buys mate rials for building model robots, helps with com puter equipment, and 1 allows design winners to attend a NASA summer conference.

Like many of its strengths. Georgia Tech's contributions to the advancement of robotics tend to be largely unknown, scattered about the campus without a high-visibility program or research center. Many of these efforts are now finding focus in the Material Handling Research Center and the new Manufacturing Research Center, while proposals circulate for a full-fledged robotics research facility. Some researchers now place robotics technology at the same turning point encountered by personal computers in the 1970s. At that time, the technology for computers was proven, but society had not yet come to accept the idea that computers should be made available for widespread use. Robotics is poised to become technology's next friendly revolution, one that will be so broad in scope as to make the world wonder how we ever got along without it. â&#x20AC;˘ John Toon is a writer in the communications office of the Georgia Tech Research Institute.


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The Study of Grays In their study of die art of public policy, Tech students learn there often is no single 'right answer,' but that by applying scientific knowledge with understanding, diey can help build the future.

/ i

By Mark Hodges

Professor David R o e s s n e r

bviously not eveiy Georgia Tech student who receives undergraduate training in technical disciplines then pursues a career in science or engineering. Many move into management. But an increasing number are entering government agencies, government-supported organizations and private industry as policy analysts.

Policy analysts who specialize in science and technology often have

a special advantage in the competition for employment. They are not only in relatively short supply, but they possess an expertise that is increasingly important in policymaking.

In recent years, science and technology have developed at such a rapid

pace that they have become integral parts of governmental decision-making in areas as wide-ranging as space science, telecommunications, industrial assistance, military defense and environmental protection. Even in fields such as business, diplomacy and law, technological advances such as the computer revolution are presenting policy makers with new sets of problems and opportunities.

Many governmental issues Continued next page GEORGIA TECH â&#x20AC;˘ Public Policy Studies

21


Puzzle Solver Plus "I wanted more than just solving the puzzle. I was concerned about the ramifications of what I was working on." —Doug Abraham

cannot be understood, much less resolved, without the active participation of technically knowledgeable

policy-makers.

passed through Tech's public-policy program. But to the school's acting director, J. David Roessner, the common denominator for these students has been a technical or scientific educational background or a jobrelated interest in science or technology"What we find that distinguishes those who make it from those who don't," he says, "are analytical and communications skills." Roessner says that the publicpolicy program at Tech calls on students to develop a challenging blend of qualitative and quantitative skills. Today's policy analysts are bringing unprecedented quantitative precision to their work through techniques such as cost-benefit analysis, regression analysis, microeconomics and linear programming. Roessner is quick to add that one of the policy student's major difficulties is learning to cope with the world's inherent imprecision. "There are better and worse answers, and there are better and worse ways of thinking about policyrelated problems and trying to reach solutions," he says. "But for the most part, there is almost never a correct, true or—for most difficult problems—even an optimal answer, That probably is the thing which our students find most difficult to deal with: tire simple fact that on any assignment we give, there is no single 'right' answer." In the new School of Public

These analysts help political leaders understand such issues as: What regulations can protect the public against the potential abuses of the growing industrial applications of genetic engineering? What technologies should the government encourage to prepare America for a new age of energy limits? What practices are most likely to protect the environment without crippling the . country's economic well-being? What policies will best ensure that the benefits of the age of telecommunications will be most broadly distributed and efficiently achieved? for the past 10 years, a master's degree program in the social sciences, known as technology and science policy (TASf), has trained students to look for answers to these questions. As of fall 1990, 38 students had earned degrees, and is more were moving toward graduation. The program started in Tech's School of Social Sciences; however, with the Institute's reorganization, it is now centered in the School of Public Policy within the Ivan Allen College of Management, Policy and International Affairs. With restructuring, the one-year TASP master of science degree has been superseded by a new, two-year master's program in public policy, with four different concentrations of study; environmental policy, telecommunications policy, urban Policy, the interdisciplinary emphasis policy and planning, and economic that gave the TASP program its speand industrial development, cial identity should increase. Stronger Bachelor's and doctoral programs are linkages already have been forged also in the planning stages. with other Tech units, including the City Planning Program and the Students with an array of educa•schools of Earth and Atmospheric tional and career experiences have

22

GEORGIA TECH • Spring 1991

Sciences, Industrial and Systems Engineering, Civil Engineering, Management, and Economics. Future publicpolicy students at Tech will be exposed to an even wider set of experiences and perspectives, Over its first decade, Georgia Tech's public-policy program lias produced graduates who, though still comparatively young, already are making marks in the world.

is a boy, Doug Abraham idreamed of working in the • U.S. space program. But in college, Abraham found that science and engineering weren't the frames that be.st fit his particular mindset. As an undergraduate physics majorat Texas A&M and a master's student in electrical engineering at Georgia Tech, his experience was the same: lie made excellent grades but still suspected he was working in the wrong academic field. Abraham started looking at other disciplines and found one that piqued his interest. It was the TASP program, and its promise to prepare students to become policy analysts in areas involving technology and science seemed a tailor-made alternative. Abraham enrolled. "Scientists, and to some extent engineers, lend to be puzzle solvers,"


AHMI M/AKDI I'HOTO

he says. "And it's like working a crossword puzzle: You do it, and you gel enjoyment out of solving the puzzle, regardless of what it is. Well, I wasn't like that. 1 was concerned about the ramifications of what I was working on." Abraham's shift in interest enhanced rather than ended his childhood dreams. He won a summer student internship at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and impressed his bosses enough to hire him as a fulltime policy analyst. Less than two years after his Georgia Tech graduation, Abraham is a member of a team that prepares environmental impact statements for every space shuttle launcl

S

usan Delhi is a I98S graduate of the TASP program who started her graduate studies at Georgia Tech in applied biology.

After graduating from Western Illinois University, she taught high school biology for several years in Illinois, then for another year at North Sittings High School in metro Atlanta. She enrolled at Tech, aspiring to a career in cancer research or genetic engineering. However, after a year of master's work in biology, she realized that she didn't want to become a practicing scientist. "I had more of an interest in some of the cancer-risk assessment issues, the environmental policy issues," Deihl says. Delhi entered the TASP program and became interested in environmental-risk assessment as a thesis topic. TASP offered a mini-internship through which students could earn course credits by working for several months in a company or a public agency. She contacted the regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Atlanta. "They agreed to take me on for a couple of months, and I did a project for litem, and then they decided they'd like for me let stay," Deihl says. "I convinced them that the best use of both of OUT lime would be to explore the field of risk assessment." Risk assessment proved valuable in restoring EPA's credibility as a protector of the environment. One bone

of contention was the use of science—or the lack of it—in EPA decision-making. Deihl and others at EPA believed that the agency's decisions should be based on a firmer foundation of scientific risk assessment. Shortly after coming to EPA, she took on a special assignment, helping to execute the Southeast region's mandate as the lead region in building risk-assessment practices into EPA decision-making. Deihl later moved into the Superfund program, established to investigate and clean up potentially hazardous waste sites. For the past two years, she has acted as chief of site-assessment operations for Superfund in the Southeast region. This group surveys clean-up sites that do not require emergency removal or response activities. "We take uncontrolled releases where toxic chemicals have seeped into the ground water," she says, "and perform a field investigation, then prepare a written analysis to determine the risk that the site poses to public health and the environment." The quality of Delhi's work has been recognized at EPA in ways other than her increasing level of responsibility. In 1987. she received the Trudy A. Speciner Award, a national honor given to EPA's most Continued next page GEORGIA TECH • Public Policy Studies

23


HV M i l K I ' H O I O

valuable new employee. Deihl believes that tin effective decision-maker in environmental policy needs more than just a scientific or engineering background. "1 think that the greatest advantage of going through the TASP program is the exposure one gets to each of the variety of elements required to make these decisions," she says, "I feel like the program prepared me very well for the position I currently have. You really see the importance of the role of communications, too, in making some_ofthe.se decisions work, because there are so many different parties involved."

T

he influence of science and technology is being felt at all levels of federal policy-making, even such a bastion of traditionalism as the U.S. Department of Slate. The Stale Department still has relatively few specialists in science and technology, but one of them is Mike Quear, a former TASP student who works in the Bureau of Oceans, International. Environmental and Scientific Affairs."1 think a lot of people are surprised that anyone with a technical background is at the Stale Department," Quear says. "Out of 20,000plus employees at the Stale Depart- ; ment, probably less than 100 have

24

GEORGIA TECH â&#x20AC;˘ Spring 1991


Beyond the Lab "I h a d m o r e interest i n s o m e o f the cancer-risk a s s e s s m e n t issues, the e n v i r o n m e n t a l policy issues." â&#x20AC;&#x201D; S u s a n Deihl

any lypc of science Background. Quear got into the organization by winning a fellowship sponsored By the American Association for the Advancement of Science, whose purpose is to strengthen the linkage Between the scientific community and the federal government. The award was especially prestigious since Quear is one of only a lew individuals ever selected who lacked a doctoral degiee. After the fellowship ended, he was hired to a permanent position as a policy analyst and has served in this post for several months. Before enrolling in TASP, Quear worked in the private sector for six years as a quality-control engineer with Union Carbide. At Georgia Tech, he specialized in international affairs and Began work on a thesis dealing with the impact of computer technologies and miniaturization on arms-control negotiations. At the Department of State, one of Quear's main duties has Been to formulate general policy for cooperative science and technology programs involving participants from the United Slates and foreign countries. He has Been particularly active in arranging for and monitoring work Between scientists in the U.S. and Eastern Europe. While such agreements might appear to Be simple and Benign. Quear says that sticky problems ran arise over the ownership of intellectual properties arising from cooperative research. "By congiessional mandate, we're required to make sure that there's effective protection and adequate allocation of intellectual property that's generated," he says. "Since there are uneven patent laws Between countries, that's often a point

of negotiation in selling up frameworks for cooperative work. 1 would guess that the U.S. has over 700 of those types of agreements." Quear has written speeches on scientific issues for other officials in the State Department, including Assistant Secretary Curtis Bohland. In addition, he developed a course curriculum on the importance of science and technology in international relations for a mini-school for foreignservice offices. On an informal Basis, he also assists Stale Department officers w h o need Briefings on scientific issues that are involved in their work. Quear Believes that graduates of public-policy programs have the Best chance of finding government positions if they start with undergraduate degrees in engineering or science, then supplement it with training in public policy at the master's level. "To Be quite truthful," he says, "people with undergraduate degrees in international policy ate a dime a dozen, and there's any number of well-established and good programs around the country. I think that from the Wash ington perspective there aren't that many openings f< ir those kinds i >l people.

"The good thing about the TASP program was that it took people who already had a si ilid under-

standing of science and engineering and added a policy layer on top of that," concludes Quear, "as opposed to trying to do the opposite, which is well-nigh impossible." â&#x20AC;˘ Mark 1 lodges is editor of Georgia lech's Research Horizons magazine antl a graduate student at Tech.

The Top Layer "The g o o d thing about the TASP p r o g r a m is that it added to a solid understanding o f s c i e n c e a n d engineering." â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Mike Quear


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Bar Codes Bar None Those little striped codes seem ubiquitous symbols of modern life. Already it's hard to escape them. But where will they end up next? By Michael Pousner Photographs by Gary Meek Illustrations by Graham Anthony

I

n the old days, when a sergeant wanted to know who from his platoon was present, he would call the roll and be greeted by "Yo's" and "Here's" with each soldier's name. But space-age technology may change that. The 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., has experimented with a high-tech approach. Platoon leaders, it seems had trouble keeping up with the rapid boarding by members of their group onto several planes during an emergency practice take-off and parachute jump. Since they never knew in advance how many planes the troops would have to board, they couldn't assign specific spots. But it was important to accurately figure out which troops were on each plane to give them credit for the jumps. The solution may be bar codes. In an experiment, each soldier was given a dog-tag-like device containing a bar code corresponding to his name. Just before each soldier entered his plane, the platoon leader swept the bar-code tags with a micro-wand, which recorded the information into its memory. Later, that data was downloaded into a computer system on base, and the correct pay figured out. That may be one of the most unorthodox uses of bar codes, which have become a pervasive part of our economy and lifestyle. Researchers

use tiny bar code identification tags on bees to tell them apart and monitor their movements. The auto industry uses them to track material from its rawest form to the finished product, and the military has used them in operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm as part of its LOGMARS (Logistic Application of Automated Tracking Marking and Reading Symbols) program, which decrees that every item purchased by the military have a bar code. The U.S. Postal Service is offering discounts for bar-coded mail. And, of course, bar codes are used by our friendly neighborhood grocery cashier to add up our bill. The latter, however, is not the most prevalent use of bar codes; that occurs in manufacturing, where tracking inventory is all-important. All in all, the bar-code business grew into a $33 billion industry in 1989, reflecting a 20 percent annual growth rate since 1982.

J

ust what are bar codes? Why have iney become so valuable? What does the future hold for

them? The barcode symbol is actually a code corresponding to combinations of digits, letters or other characters. The code simply identifies the item. However, with the use of a computer equipped with optical scanning devices, the bar-code symbol can be used to tap into a database which contains additional information. The scanners read the bar codes and enter the information directly into a computer far more quickly and accurately than keypunch operators can. By scanning a bar code, one can also cause equipment to start or stop a process, inventory to be debited or credited, an invoice or check to be issued, or an action or paperwork to be triggered. It all seems very Star-Wars-like, but it's not a miracle. The scanners which read the bar codes contain a light source that is moved across the bar codes, resulting in a red, holograph-like line on the code. The dark bars absorb the light and the spaces reflect it back into the scanner, which then transforms Continued GEORGIA TECH â&#x20AC;˘ Bar Codes

27


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"This is a growth industry because systems are cost-justifiable and the payback period is short Speed and accuracy are our biggest assets." the patterns of light and dark into electrical impulses that are measured by a decoder and put into a digital code for transmission to the computer. The biggest enemy of bar codes is sluggish, redundant, monotonous data entry. It's easy to see how a scanning device in a grocery store cuts back on the time and possible inaccuracy inherent in a clerk having to total up the price of each item. But look what bar codes can do for something as volume-intensive and spirit-deadening as forms returned to an insurance company. When Eric Von Schweber, a Georgia Tech graduate student, was hired by the Coverdell Insurance Co., he surveyed a situation in which one computer operator at a terminal had been entering thousands of insurance policy enhancements. But then Coverdell took on a new business, and from 35,000 forms a year, there were that many a month. "Now we've enabled them to expand their business from something netting $150,000, to well over a million without increasing staff, partially by using bar codes," says Von Schweber. At first, Von Schweber used a rudimentary scanner, but it had problems. Today, the bar-code reader can hold 6,000 bar codes and it can do sophisticated work. And a mail room clerk can wield the magic wand between his or her other duties, saving time and a computer person's salary. Von Schweber bei n 1986, Tech's Travis Collins started AccuScan and racked up a mere $30,000 in sales of bar-code solutions to different business and industry problems. By 1991, AccuScan, with 25 employees, was grossing $3 million annually.

Applications for bar-codes are diverse. Researchers have even barcoded honeybees.

lieves it has cut a 40-hour work week down to two hours. Says Sam Dunning, office manager of Coverdell Insurance, "When I first got here, we had a bunch of people with a roomful of mail. It looked awful. When Eric and his wife, Linda, came up with the bar-code solution, we went from warp speed to light speed." Not surprisingly, then, a new kind of entrepreneur has spmng up—one for whom the bar code is his very raison d'etre.

T

I ake Travis Collins, a 1979 industrial management graduate of Georgia Tech. He started his firm, AccuScan, in 1986 as the only employee and racked up a mere $30,000 in sales of bar-code solutions to different businesses and industries. Last year, AccuScan expanded to 25 employees, doing everything from industry sales to scanner repair, and grossed $3 million. "AccuScan designs, develops and operates bar-code application systems for the manufacturing, distribution, retail and government sectors," says Collins in his ultra-modern office with a 180-degree view in a glass, four-story building located— improbably—in Conyers. "We're always growing," he adds. "This is a growth industry because

systems are always cost-justifiable, and the payback period on an automatic identificationbased system is relatively short. Speed and accuracy are our biggest assets." Bar-code solutions mean much more than the checkout counter at the neighborhood supermarket, says Collins. The way these systems work is evidenced by an application AccuScan developed for a giant waste-management firm. In this cradle-to-the-grave tracking system, waste from a hospital or doctor's office is collected each morning in approved containers, and labeled with a bar-code identification and scanned when picked up. The device is weighed with a portable electric scale, and a computer-generated manifest is produced at each of the tracking stages, with copies to the hospital, waste company and regulatory authorities. This is particularly important when the material is transferred from one truck to another as it makes its way to the processing facility. This way, there is no missing waste. AccuScan also has advised private companies, including IBM's 320 U.S. facilities and the Federal Reserve Banking System, on how to bar-code all fixed assets such as computer systems, desks and paintings, for annual inventory. And it is used by the Northeast Division of Southern Bell in Atlanta Continued next page GEORGIA TECH • Bar Codes 29


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Market forecasters predict a 15-20 percent annual growth rate through 1994. Sales could top $6.3 billion.

to help with maintenance of line systems which can house as many as 128 varying types of plug-ins; they can provide for a variety of functions, from carrying a phone line to controlling another plug. With each additional feature a customer acquires, such as call-waiting, there's a new plug-in. But wait! As customers acquire additional features, plug-ins that previously worked just fine may no longer be compatible with the updated system. To complicate matters further, technological changes and new features are added constantly. So the company must constantly identify and replace some of the 170,000 plug-ins.

S

ounds impossible? Well, the system was straining before, but now each plug-in is labeled with a bar code. Before the service technician begins his day, he uses a pocket model along with a portable data-collection terminal to access the host database. A file of plugs that needs replacing in a particular system is downloaded into the terminal. The technician scans

Eric and Linda Von Schweber: Bar coding can allow a company to expand without adding new staff members.

each and every plug in the system with a micro-wand from AccuScan, and the hand-held terminal references its database for bad plug numbers and alerts the user with a beep when a bad one is found. The scanner also stores plug information for future use. When all of the data has been collected, the hand-held terminal is uploaded. Once the data is in the PC, division managers have the information on the type and location of plugs in their areas. So not only are bad plugs identified and replaced, but the division now has up-to-date information on systems at a customer's site. As Mike Monaghan of Southern Bell puts it, "To fill our customer's needs, provide high-quality support, and be competitive, we must make changes and correct problems quickly. Bar codes help us to win and be profitable. We are waking up internally as to what we can do with this technology. In fact, the bar-code solution we have chosen is so effec-

tive, the application has grown from three counties to three states."

T

he future of the bar-code industry is bright. Market forecasts predict a 15 percent to 20 percent annual growth in the industry through 1994, when domestic sales are expected to reach $6.3 billion. "Over the next few years, Automatic Identification Manufacturers will contribute to increased productivity and quality," says William P. Hakanson, executive director of the Automatic Identification Manufacturers, a Pittsburgh-based trade association. "Declines in average unit prices will mean greater use of the [barcode] technologies in virtually every sector of the economy, including non-grocery retailers, manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, health care and government." Bar codes represent a high-tech answer to many of today's information-processing-and-labeling demands. And years from now, our grandchildren will ask us if we really lived before bar codes became a part of everyday American life. â&#x20AC;˘

35064 000000113 005

Michael Pousner is an Atlanta-based freelance writer. The system's ability to inventory diverse things is so pervasive one never knows what will be barcoded n e x t

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GEORGIA TECH â&#x20AC;˘ Bar Codes 3 1


Georgia Tech, A Photographic Portrait

The Institute has long sought to create an official pictorial book that would document the beauty and vitality of Georgia Tech. We are pleased to announce that principal photography is now complete and Georgia Tech, A Photographic Portrait is a reality. Filled with outstanding original photographs, this volume is sure to bring back many wonderful memories of your educational experience in Atlanta. Its rich and sensitive images will move you to observe and appreciate our fine institution as never before. For anyone who has attended Georgia Tech and remembers the part it has played in shaping lives and fulfilling dreams, no book will be more appreciated, or have greater personal significance, than this evocative pictorial essay. To create this unique work the Alumni Association has commissioned acclaimed photographer Tommy Thompson who spent countless hours walking the campus, cameras in hand, patiently observing the Institute and its people. In all, Tommy Thompson took over 10,000 individual photographs of the Institute so that its people, architecture, all the important moments that make it unique, have come before his lens to be captured in stunning images. Of these, only the finest, the most beautiful and evocative, have been selected by the book's pictorial editorâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;two-time Pulitzer winning photographer William Strodeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;for inclusion in Georgia Tech, A Photographic Portrait. Georgia Tech, A Photographic Portrait is a large, coffee table size book (9 1/2" x 11 3/4"), comprised of 112 pages of premium heavy coated paper. The exterior is attractively covered in fine library cloth with the title fully embossed. Even the typeface has been specially chosen to enhance the richness and quality of the book. And to preseve and protect this handsome volume, it is covered by a heavy, full-color dust jacket. This heirloom volume will not only be a joy to own, but will also be a pleasure to give. For alumni and friends alike, Georgia Tech, A Photographic Portrait will make a much appreciated gift for a birthday, holiday, or any occasion you wish to make memorable.

Issue price: $39.00 plus $4.75 for shipping and handling. On shipments to Pennsylvania only, add 6% state sales tax. To order by American Express, MasterfJard, or Visa, please call toll-free 1 -800-523-0124. Calls are accepted weekdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and weekends froih 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern time). All callers should request Operator 518JP. To order by mail, write to: Georgia Tech Alumni Association, c/o P.O. Box 670, Exton, PA 19341-0670, and include check or money order made payable to: Georgia Tech, A Photographic Portrait.


INNOVATORS

Fireworks Technology By J o h n Dunn

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GABY MEEK P H O T O

t's more than a coincidence that Kathryn I Vance "Kaycee" Logan is called Kaycee—as in Casey at the Bat. Her father is the late Charles ••' r ,' Monroe "Happy" Vance, who was a catcher for the > i . I Atlanta Crackers baseball / team. And while he sparked excitement on the baseball diamond, she's setting c )ff fireworks in a V i * . ' / . ' JI / ' / Georgia lech lab. Literally. • i - • < • : r't' / '" By applying an innova• • i t • - i,. * i # /. tive technology to the prin- 1 ciple that causes a fireworks reaction, she is d •!.• ', ' . . . . \ . .</• ' ' ' i. ' /. creating Titan-like materials that have tremendous • • • •* ' • v . » V ; n strength, withstand enor. N ' , s . - « ''••* 0 « H N mous heat, are resistant to corrosives and conduct electricity. ' *• ' \ . . " V -WAI The success of her research has set off sparks ' /- - ' of interest worldwide from industry, and its impact could span from automobiles to textile mills. Logan received both her bachelor's (1970) and master's (1980) degrees in ceramic engineering at V : t • •;.• ••> Tech, and is director of the Materials Science and Technology Laboratory at the Georgia Tech Research '. i i ,* • i ,l i i 'i $''i i Institute. i , i The fireworks principle • .•; " —burning magnesium or aluminum with metallic oxides—sets off a selfpropagating thermite I ' i I reaction, she explains. By A fireworks-like explosion is part of the patented process for creating titanium controlling the reaction, diboride, a diamond-hard material with dozens of potential industrial uses.

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33


INNOVATORS

Patented Process Produces Pure, Less-Expensive Titanium Diboride Georgia Tech has been able to synthesize submicron-sized powders of titanium diboride. While the conventional manufacture of titanium diboride produces carbon contaminants and large particles which are difficult to form into useable shapes, Logan says her method produces titanium diboride that is pure, free of carbon traces and easily shaped. Like the mythical Titans, for which this element was named, titanium is prized for its strength. It has been an important structural metal in high-speed military and supersonic aircraft since 1947. Tech's patented process, invented by Logan, is more cost-effective and produces a superior titanium diboride compound. Logan estimates Tech's process costs two to three times less than the conventional method.

Logan's research, which began in 1983, is presently sponsored by the U.S. Army Research Office and totals more than $4 million. One military benefit could be development of a vastly superior armor for tanks. The material withstands temperatures up to 3,000 degrees Celsius, resists acids and corrosives, and is rated just below a diamond in hardness. Logan has formed a company, Powder Technologies Inc., through the Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Tech to help introduce the technology into the commercial market. The spin-off benefits for industry are tremendous, including semiconductor and aerospace materials, aluminum smelting, steel manufacturing, cutting tools and replacement of bearings and wear parts. In processes such as

aluminum smelting, Logan has tested titanium diboride electrodes as potential replacements for the carbon electrodes currently used to smelt aluminum. "As I learn about an industry using materials in extreme environments, I can come up with an application," says Logan. In the textile industry, there are spindles, spools and thread guides. "A little thread guide made out of titanium diboride might never wear down." Rolls Royce and Chrysler have both expressed an interest in the material, and one use may be as a cylinder liner in automobile engines. In the manufacture of aluminum cans, the pro-

Trade Warrior ^k ^ / ' T H t e n alumnus

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Tech's Kaycee Logan's pure titanium diboride promises products "that may never wear down. 34

GEORGIA TECH â&#x20AC;˘ Spring 1991

cess produces aluminum oxide which is extremely abrasive and tends to wear down the dies used to form the cans. Titanium diboride could make a superior die, she observes. In ongoing research, Logan is developing a means of making thermite materials in a continuous process. "A number of refractory, high-temperature ceramics like silicon carbide, boron carbide, titanium carbide and other borides, nitrides and silicides can be produced with this technology," Logan says. "We want to learn more about the process so we can control it and synthesize other refractory materials which are also too expensive."

â&#x20AC;˘ â&#x20AC;˘ Amelio became head of Rockwell International's semiconductor division in 1983, Business Week magazine relates that he made a customer service call to Japan and learned that Japanese customers were unhappy. Chips in Rockwell modems, he discovered, broke down. Amelio responded by sending a team of trouble-shooters to Japan with instructions not to return until the problem was solved.

It took three weeks, but the impact on R< >ckwell's Japanese customers has been lasting. Rockwell's sales began climbing and, according to Business Week, the firm now holds a 70 percent share of Japan's modem market. Amelio's commitment to quality and customer service has attracted the attention of officials at National Semiconductor Corp., who have tapped him to be the next president and chief executive officer of the company. Headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., the


INNOVATORS

Gilbert Amelio: The man to bring National back. company manufactures and markets high-performance semiconductor products, and is a global leader in mixed analogand-digital technologies. Amelio received his bachelor's, master's and

PhD degrees in physics in 1965, 1967, and 1968, respectively. In 1962, while a student at Tech, he was co-founder of Information Sciences, an Atlanta software firm. As a graduate student, he joined the physical sciences division of the Georgia Tech Research Institute and was involved in surface physics research and the study of the Auger spectrum resulting from low-energy electrons scattered from semiconductors. In 1968, Amelio joined Bell Laboratories as a researcher. He was general manager of the micropro-

cessor division of Fairchild Camera & Instrument Corp. before joining Rockwell. In May 1988, he was named president of Rockwell Communication Systems. A member of Georgia Tech's National Advisory Board from 1981-87, Amelio served as NAB chair during 1985-86. He is a former member of the Georgia Tech Research Corporation. Amelio holds 16 patents and was presented the 1991 Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award for his work in the development of charge-coupled devices. He is co-inventor

of the industry's first charge-cpupled image sensor, which is used in most consumer video cameras. Analysts observe that National Semiconductor is twice the size of Rockwell Communications, and although it is No. 1 in analog chips, the corporation has been in red ink four of the past five years. Amelio will have to prove himself. But, comments Business Week, "Anyone who has made it big in Japan should stand a good chance anywhere else. . . . Amelio could be just the man to get National back on course." â&#x20AC;˘ [he Ballroom at our The grand hotel debuts January 1991. Downtown, in the heart ofAtlanta. Boasting 6,500 sq.ft. of magnificent meeting space, elegantly appointed with crystal chandeliers,fineart and antiques. Gourmet cuisine prepared expressly by our catering staff. A conference concierge to tafe care of all the details. And, of course, uncompromising personal service. For more information please call 404-659-0400 or 800241-3333, toll-free. We'll put you up where you belong.

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RESEARCH

Retreads for Wastewater Treatment

S

cientists at Georgia Tech hope to use one environmental problem to solve another by studying how old automobile tires may be used in wastewater treatment vessels. The experimental work involves a waste-treatment technology known as an anaerobic packed-bed reactor, which uses microbes to degrade wastes into combustible gasses. One of the most expensive costs of such reactors is the plastic medium which provides a home for the microbes. Tech scientists believe that by using shredded tires instead of the plastic, waste plants can become more costeffective. Results from laboratoryscale treatment reactors have been promising. If successful in large-scale operations, the tires could

significantly lower capital investment costs for a range of waste treatment facilities. Plastic costs from $3 to S10 per cubic foot, as opposed to the minimal cost of used tires. But there are potential drawbacks. Tires are heavier and would require more support structure in the tanks. And there are concerns that chemicals and oils could leach from the tires, although that hasn't happened in experiments.

Sports Drinks Boost Athletes

D

uring prolonged running in the heat, carbohydrate-electrolyte "sports drinks" are more effective than water for boosting performance while preventing dehydration, overheating, and fatigue of athletes, according

Is there life after 40,000 miles? Tech scientists hope to recycle used, shredded tires as beds for anaerobic microbes used in waste treatment plants.

to researchers at Georgia Tech's Exercise Science Laboratory. The Tech studies challenge conventional wisdom on fluid intake, which holds that drinks which are more than 2.5 percent carbohydrate will inhibit hydration during exercise. The scientists' work indicates that in temperatures over 90°F, athletes drinking carbohydrateelectrolyte beverages ran considerably faster during the last leg of a 25-mile marathon. In fact, test subjects drinking a 7-percent carbohydrate solution trimmed an average of three minutes from their total running time. The research could benefit athletes preparing for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, as well as soldiers stationed in desert environments, construction workers, roofers and others who work in the heat. Eleven volunteers—nine men and two women— each ran a 25-mile course on two separate occasions during August 1990 in Atlanta. Runners paused every three miles to drink about seven ounces of a commercially available sports beverage containing 2 percent fructose and 5 percent glucose polymer with electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. During the other test run, the subjects received the same amount of fluid in

the form of a placebo (artificially sweetened water). Various physiological measures of physical exertion and conditioning such as weight loss, heart rate, oxygen consumption, blood volume changes, body temperature, electrolyte and glucose levels were recorded at four points during each run. Georgia Tech researchers are currently testing the validity of their conclusions, but the group ultimately hopes to establish more specific recommendations for various athletes.

Neither Rain Nor Snow...

E

ngineers at Georgia Tech Research Institute have designed and built an Advanced Microwave Precipitation Radiometer (AMPR) that will help NASA scientists gain a better understanding of how rainfall variations affect the Earth's climate and weather. The instrument, which has already been flown aboard a NASA aircraft to gather information on storm systems, is part of a larger research effort to devise better computer models of the Earth's climate system, and to develop more accurate weather forecasting. High-resolution data provided by the AMPR will help scientists interpret the Continued next page GEORGIA TECH • Research

37


RESEARCH Continued from page 3 7

Research scientist Joe Galliano examines an AMPR (radiometer) being tested in weather forecasting. lower-resolution precipitation information they receive from satellites. The device can also measure winds over the ocean surface, snow cover, soil moisture levels and vegetation characteristics.

Microscopic Secrets of Combustion

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space shuttle booster miotor is approximately 140 feet long and holds 1.5 million pounds

A special rate for Tech fans only. Weekends throughout football and basketball seasons. Afterward, relax with a drink. Or enjoy sumptuous dining in The Restaurant or The Cafe. Then settle back in a luxuriously

of solid rocket propellant. Yet the actual combustion process occurs in a region that is only one-tenth of a millimeter thick. At Georgia Tech, researchers are examining what happens when propellants burn. If combustion can be fully explained on the microscopic level, researchers say, the information would contribute to safer spacecraft and more efficient propellants. Scientists are focusing on the microscopic flames which occur when fuel and oxygen mix in the thin combustion zone of the

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GEORGIA TECH • Spring 1991

solid propellant. Generated by a chemical reactk >n, these tiny flames provide the thrust which propels a rocket. Tech researchers believe that the "leading edge" of the flames—the exact point of ignition—is a key source of potentially hazardous vibration in spacecraft. Experiments with different gas flow rates and dilution levels of propellant are helping researchers determine the operating range and stability of the flame under a variety of conditions. •


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M I N D OVER MATH Algebra Crossmath Puzzle

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IN GENERAL 1. A monomial answer is placed in one box. 2. A polynomial answer is entered one term per box. 3. A numerical answer is entered one digit per box. 4. The number of significant figures is determined by the number of boxes available for the answer. 5. A negative sign of a term must be included with the term (the positive sign may be omitted).

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By Dr. J o s e p h P. Vidosic, Regents professor of mechanical engineering, emeritus.

I. What is the number that, if decreased by 12, equals 25? 3. How much is (5w) 2 - 3x 2 , if w=10 and x=5? 7. How many days in m weeks and n days? 9. What is the number if 50 subtracted from four times the number is 3,330? 3xy 5v 10. How much is — - + -/-a b cy —, if a=2, b=4, c=x=5 and x' ' ' y=8? II. What is O x 3 + 5x 2 - 3x) added to (10x 3 - x 2 ) and to O x 2 - l l x 3 - x)? 12. What is the expression for the area of a triangle with a base of Ox + 1) and height of 4x? 13- How much is O x 3 + 5x 2 3x) multiplied by (x + 2)? 14. What is the simplified expression for the perimeter of a triangle with sides measuring (2x + 3y), (x - 2y), and (2x + 5y)? 15. What is the numerical value of is 5r - 2 if r - 2 =5? 17. What 12x6-6x3 , 18. What is either of the factors of (9x 2 + 24x + 1©? 19. What is the numerical value of 2x if 4x - 1=5?

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Answets to this puzzle can befound on page 10. 3 20. How long is a rectangle twice the number, less 13, 5n_f_ 12xT - + 42y2 8. What is whose diagonal is V136 units equals 45? 5n 3x2 TV" long and whose width is 6? 36. What is 3x 3 + 7x(2x + 3) - simplified? x + 400 4(2x + 5) expanded and 21. What is A/2 (7 - A/6) 16. How much is x if simplified? simplified? + L ^ 2 0 . 414.25? 22. What is the absolute value 37. How much is x if x x 4 2 2 2 of x if x + b = 10b ? r T = 8 ? 2 17. How much is lOx + A/3 - 1 23. How much is (2y + 3) - 7x + A/16 - A/27? 12y? 4i8? DOWN 19. How much is -7i 24. What are the roots of x 2 - 1. What is the difference y2-b 3x - 4=0? 22. How much is 4x^ between (7 + 15 + 12x 2 ) and 3? 26. What is the value of k in + 9 if x = A/6~ and y = 2 4 + 7 + 6x without 23- What is the expression 3X2 - rrx = -• if the sum of its collection of terms? whose absolute root is y = 2. What is roots is equal to 6? iA/1-25 if you make a of ay 2 (I4x + 8x + 4x 2 + 6x) , 28. How much is the product equal to 4? rf * 24. What is the direct inverse of the roots of x 2 + lOx + 25 terms are not collected? of l4x 2 + x 2 - x 2 - 1? = 0? 4. What is the final collected 25- What is 4(1 - 1.25x) + (y + 29- What is the cubic equation whose roots are 2, - expression of (8 + 2 - 6) + (8 x) (y + 13) - xy - 13y expanded but x terms not -9 + 7)+ 15x3 - 5x 4 - 4x 3 + 1 and - i ? collected? x 4 , leaving results within 27. How long is the 30. What is (2 + AT3)(1- A/OO parenthesis as terms? hypotenuse of a right expanded and fully 5. What is triangle whose sides are 40 simplified? (12x2 + 12x2 + 42x4 + 12X5) 28. What is the antilog for 32. What is fA9 simplified? 6? 2.3464? « V/TT, . • * 4 + frV + y 4 without term collection? 31. Simplify A/427 + A/452 + A/25 33. What is ^ + y2 7. What is 10m + 20x 2 - l6x - - A / 3 & simplified? 32. What does -f^ reduce 3m + 13 - 5x 2 + 17x - 8x 2 - 9 34. What is the characteristic + 42 collected? for the log,of 74,220? !£' u u • (9i 7 - 21i 3 ) . 35- What is the number if 34. How much is -; :

GEORGIA TECH • Spring 1991

3i


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PROFILE A Rising Star in Physics By Gary Goettling

D

r. Mei-Yin Chou ' enjoys classical music and reading, but confesses that leisure time has been a scarce luxury since joining the Georgia Tech faculty in 1989. "You just don't do research from 9 to 5," she says. "It's with you all the time. Sometimes, I cannot get a problem solved and I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea." An associate professor of physics, Chou has been awarded four grants over the past two years, most recently a five-year, $500,000 fellowship from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The Packard fellowships

support basic scientific research by talented young faculty members and are intended to encourage their recipients to continue university careers. The fellowships provide funds for research expenses such as scientific equipment, research supplies and scholarship support for graduate students. Chou has also received a standard Department of Energy grant, and fellowships from the Sloan and Exxon foundations. In 1989, she received a twoyear contract for computing time from the National Science Foundation's Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. Chou's research has centered on the theoretical study of the fundamental

properties of condensed matter. "An earlier name for condensed-matter physics was solid-state physics," she explains. "It includes all aspects of solid-state physics, along with the physics of other materials such as liquids." Chou's goal is to explain and predict novel materials properties from first principles. "We have a principle that says that everything goes to the lowest energy —atoms arrange themselves in order to lower the energy of the whole system," she explains. "From the study of the total energy, we are able to explain or predict why certain materials have certain structures."

C

The Chou File • 1980: Receives BS in physics from National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan. • 1980: Awarded Earle C. Anthony Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley. • 1980-81: Graduate teaching assistant, University of California, Berkeley. • 1981-86: Graduate research assistant, University of California, Berkeley. • 1982: Awarded Lenzen Memorial Scholarship, University of California, Berkeley. • 1983: Receives master's in physics from University of California, Berkeley. • 1986: Receives PhD in physics from University of California, Berkeley. • 1986-88: Researcher at Exxon Research and Engineering Co. • 1989: Joins Georgia Tech faculty. '

42

GEORGIA TECH • Spring 1991

hou has worked with a variety of physical systems including metals, semi-conductors, surfaces, interfaces and clusters, and has examined both their structural and electronic properties. Her accomplishments are reflected in more than 30 published papers and articles. A native of Taipei, Taiwan, Chou earned her undergraduate degree in physics at National Taiwan University, and post-graduate degrees in physics at the University of California, Berkeley. For the next two years, while working as a researcher for Exxon's

Research and Engineering Co. in New Jersey, she harbored a growing desire to teach. Her decision to come to Tech was based, in part, on "the outstanding reputation the Institute has," she says. "The physics department isn't very large, but it is very strong in some important areas." She adds that Tech's location also weighed in its favor. "I liked Atlanta— being in a metropolitan area." Chou diplomatically sidesteps any comparison between her current and former homes. "Each place has its own charms." she smiles. Chou was drawn to academia because she enjoys the interaction with students and the freedom to pursue her research interests. "At universities, you can pretty much decide what you want to do, as long as you can get it funded," she says, laughing. "You can choose the topic that interests you, but it must be something important." Chou has taught sophomore-level classes in general physics, particle dynamics and optics, and her students have ranked her in the top 20 percent of instructors. Chou says that teaching helps her understand physics better. "When you teach, you have to re-organize what you know and then


GARY MEEK P H O T O

Mei-Yin Chou: Trading the pressures of a research lab for the "leisure" of teaching and researching at Tech. present it to people who don't know it yet. You have to start from the very beginning and think about the whole structure [of physics] more carefully. That process helps me to re-think a lot of problems,

and keeps me from taking that fundamental knowledge for granted."

T

he "fresh input" gained from her undergraduates is also useful when teaching at the

graduate level, says Chou, who currently supervises two PhD students. Chou currently serves on the cabinet and the Colloquium Committee of the School of Physics, and is a past member of the

school's Library Committee, Comprehensive Exam Committee and Seminar Committee. She also holds professional memberships in the American Physical Society and the Materials Research Society. â&#x20AC;˘ GEORGIA TECH â&#x20AC;˘ Profile: Chou

43


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LETHAL WEAPONS, by Thomas M. Stinson, the story of Georgia Tech's amazing March to the Final Four, saves that feeling for Brian

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Ramblin' round the world... The 1991 Ahimni Tour Schedule MEDITERRANEAN fflGHUGHTS Lisbon to Venice Aboard the Crown Odyssey • May 418 DUTCH WATERWAYS AD\TNTURE Aboard the MS. Ofympia June 2-16 ELBE RIVER CRUISE— Aboard the MS Prussia Princess/Eastern European Itinerary July 13-26 NEW ENGLAND/ CANADA CRUISE Aboard the Royal Princess Sept 9-19 FOR INFORMATION:

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