Volume: 135(4) - April, 2013
As we approach the 200th issue of the Journal in June 2013, it would be timely to provide our readers with an overview of the evolution of Journal of Mechanical Design (JMD). In this Editorial, I focus on the early years, 1978-1989. For this period, I looked over about 1,100 editorials and articles in the Journal. In the inaugural Editorial of January 1978, the founding Editor Charles McLarnan wrote: “After more than two years of discussions, planning and work, the Journal of Mechanical Design is now in print … the official transactions volume for the Design Engineering Division of the ASME.” While Editor, McLarnan added a number of features to the Journal to promote and inspire further development in design engineering. These included guest editorials, calls for papers, a listing of conference meetings and papers, reports on technical committees’ activities, and special panels and sessions that were of interest to design engineers and educators. For example, in July 1978, there was an editorial on a design education meeting that examined the question: “do design educators know what they are doing?” And in January 1979, there was a guest editorial recommending that assistant professors spend time in industry early in their careers to gain practical experience that in turn would benefit their students. Unfortunately, McLarnan died suddenly in April 1979, as announced by the interim Editor Richard Berkof.
In April 1980, Fredric Ehrich became the next Editor of the Journal. Ehrich stated in his April 1980 editorial the need for “… a better balance in our coverage of design topics between the poles of design analysis and creative design or design synthesis.” Up to that point, a large portion of papers, almost 75%, appeared to be of “analysis” and/or “modeling” type. However, that percentage began to change, with gradually but increasingly more papers on design engineering topics. Indeed, Design had the attention of the ASME President, Donald Zwiep, who wrote in a JMD guest editorial in July 1980 that: “… If I were given one word to describe a principal function of engineering, that word would be design … Design, when we think of it in its relationship to the field of engineering, is a verb described by words such as conceive, invent, contrive, innovate, plan, sketch, undertake, or create.”
Not long after, in his July 1982 Editorial, Ehrich informed the readers that due to “the publication cost, and the inexorable acceleration in the rate of papers submitted”, JMD would be split into two journals. And so, in March 1983, JMD was split to two new journals: the Journal of Vibrations, Stress and Reliability in Design with Fredric Ramin as the Editor and the Journal of Mechanisms, Transmissions and Automation in Design with Steven Dubowsky as the Editor. Ramin oversaw the review of submissions on topics such as vibrations, stress analysis, failure prevention, reliability, noise control, acoustics, design education, and design technology while Dubowsky oversaw the review of submissions on topics such as mechanisms and machines, power transmission and gearing, design automation, medical devices and sporting equipment, and food, drug and beverage equipment.
Under Dubowsky’s editorship, the Journal of Mechanisms, Transmissions and Automation in Design began to include focused issues highlighting the development and research on Design Automation (June 1983 and March 1984), Power Transmission and Gearing (September 1983), and Mechanisms (September 1984). In June 1984, the Journal also featured a report by an ASME panel supported by the National Science Foundation to identify the “Research Needs in Mechanical Systems.” The needs reported by the panel had a significant overlap with the technical areas covered by the Journal.
The title of the Journal of Mechanisms, Transmissions and Automation in Design remained in effect until the next Editor, Ken Waldron, came onboard in 1988. Waldron mentioned in his June 1988 Editorial that “… There seems to be a problem in generating an identity for the Journal in the technical community which it serves and, more importantly, among potential subscribers.” As a result, an ad-hoc committee was formed by the Design Engineering Division to explore the possibility of changing the name of the Journal. Waldron later announced in his March 1989 Editorial the return to the original name starting with the March 1990 issue. That is, the name of the Journal of Mechanisms, Transmissions and Automation in Design was changed back to the Journal of Mechanical Design. Waldron also announced that The Journal of Vibration, Acoustics, Stress, and Reliability in Design would become the Journal of Vibration and Acoustics and that “the material on reliability, stress analysis, failure prevention and fastening and joining” would “be transferred into the new Journal of Mechanical Design.”
Let me now give some data about the type and technical areas of papers in the Journal during those early years. In the first few years, most of the papers were on topics such as fatigue, wear, creep, vibration, dynamics, failure prediction, mechanism and machine theory. At the end of 1978, over 80% of papers appeared to be of analysis and/or modeling related types. By December 1989, however, a little over 50%, or 585 papers appeared to be on analysis and/or modeling. Of the remaining papers, 276 papers were focused on design of mechanisms and robotic systems with 127 of them focused on machine components and machine system design. Also, about 130 papers were focused on design automation topics with majority of them or 95 papers focused on design optimization methods. Furthermore, during the early years, 81 papers were focused on design of direct contact systems. From these, more than half were focused on design of gears and the rest were split between cams and power transmission systems papers. Finally, during the early years, there were only a few papers, about 5%, that appeared to be on topics such as design education, design theory and methodology, and design for manufacture and life cycle. This, however, began to change as it will be reviewed later in another editorial, for the JMD papers during 1990-present.