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Candidates debate fluid power

Alan Hitchcox
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Ever since the U.S. Presidential Debates were first televised in 1960, millions of Americans have looked forward to the candidates squaring off in a match of words and wit — usually more words than wit. A moderator poses questions about social issues, tax policies, national defense, and other politically sensitive topics, and the candidates respond with their best off-the-cuff remarks.

One topic that won’t be discussed is fluid power technology. So I thought I’d act as moderator and pose questions of my own and provide responses we might expect from the participating candidates: Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Let’s start with Barack Obama. “Mr. President, as you know, packaging equipment is the largest consumer of pneumatic components. How will your policies affect the production of packaging equipment in general, and pneumatic components in particular?

Obama: Packaging is the largest sector for pneumatics? I didn’t know that. Did you know that, Mitt?

Romney: No, Mr. President, I didn’t know that. I thought it would have been medical equipment.

Obama: Actually, Mitt, medical equipment is the fastest growing sector, but it hasn’t caught up to packaging. We’ll have to make a bipartisan effort to check out the latest in pneumatics and packaging equipment at PackExpo later this month.

“Okay, gentlemen, next question. Mr. Romney, with construction equipment being the largest market for fluid power, what programs do you think will have the most influence to stimulate the sluggish housing industry, and, therefore, construction?”

Romney: Now wait a minute. I thought mining was the largest sector. Did you see how huge those hydraulic cylinders were on some of the equipment at MINExpo last month?

Obama: Yes, I did, Mitt. But I think our esteemed moderator was referring to the size of the financial market for construction  equipment, not the physical size.

Romney: No, Mr. President; I knew what he meant. But when you consider construction for government and privately funded projects, then, yeah, sure, construction beats every other sector of fluid power.

“Thank you gentlemen, and our readers can see some of the latest in construction equipment and hydraulic components at two great shows next year: Bauma in Munich, Germany and ICUEE in Louisville, Ky.”

“But we’ve run out of space, so I’ll ask the candidates for their closing comments. Mr. Obama?”

Obama: I think Abraham Lincoln said it best when he proposed that fluid power would one day be the most versatile form of transmitting mechanical power.

Romney: I would add that fluid power is widely misunderstood. More importantly, it needs to become part of all engineering education so that students recognize it as a viable means of power transmission — just as electrical and mechanical solutions are.

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