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Odd thoughts when waking
So I am laying in bed this morning wondering if I should get up or not when I thought of prosthetics (for some reason the machinery thinks this is the wrong spelling). It was a weird convoluted path for these devices to enter my mind but they did. Then I had something of a revelation.

I graduated from college with a degree in mechanical engineering in June of 69. In either 68 or 69 (probably 69) a professor in a design class showed a video or a slide presentation on prosthetics and explained how design of these devices was a field that had much promise for the future.

I do not remember it striking me then, but it did this morning. What the professor was tacitly acknowledging was that a bunch of people had come, and will be coming, back to the US from Vietnam missing parts or all of various limbs. Since the government would have some level of responsibility for these people money would be available for the research. I do understand that it is an interesting and difficult design problem because of the human machine interface and the fact that in general the device must be specific to the injury suffered.

To me this shows the out of context teaching at the college level, or perhaps any level for that matter. The professor could have admitted the reasons for this being a promising field without expressing an opinion one way or another about the war.

It also shows to me the callousness of academics. Go where the money is without concern for where that money is coming from and why. After all it is research, no reason to fault that.

The same college within the last year or so did a press release on a sort of full body prosthetic touting how it would be beneficial for people with certain types of debilitating diseases. No mention of the people being horribly maimed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I will accept that the events described in the first 3 paragraphs happened a long time ago in personal human memory and my own may not be perfect. I do know for a certainty that I was told that prosthetics would be an excellent field to pursue. I think that I also would have remembered if any discussion of the reasons for this would have occurred. There are only a few thing here and there that I remember from class rooms when I was in college and this is one of them.
He may have said it on the basis of improvements in micro machinery. I know from my own studies that science would sometimes sit around waiting for machineing techniques to catch up, so that they could put some ideas into practice.

Fiber optic cables are a great examples.

Yet, for there to be lots of profit in that industry, you would need a big source of limbless people. War is the best provider for the western world. After-wars for those African countries.
I thought diabetes and car accidents were the best drivers of the prosthetics market. Let's not confuse news cycles and personal obsessions with statistical reality.
Cynic is probably right for the long term driver but I'll bet war puts more people into prosthetics over a shorter span of time. Either way I'm not sure i abhor the notion of medical advance if we are going to continue to have the need regardless of what drives it. We won't stop having either war, diabetes or car accidents anytime soon.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
Cynic, an internet research indicates that you are correct. I allowed my own personal political views to affect my thinking without doing anything to confirm it one way or another. In my defense I was just waking up.

I will stand by one position. It is appropriate for instructors to put their instruction into context. It is rarely done. As someone who is old enough and has a history of diabetes in the family I would still have been benefited by the discussion in context.

I also stand by the position that the government is more willing to fund research in their benefit rather than in the benefit of the public. I might ask what that means.
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