Fred Vasenius's Laboratory Page

I'm an engineer and I love science, technology and mathematics. This is a place for expanding your mind in the area of technical things. Here you'll find useful technical reviews, how to articles and all kinds of other things. There's only a few things here right now but more will come soon.

Raspberry Pi Computer Project

I bought a Raspberry Pi Zero Computer. It comes without a 40 pin header installed, so I soldered one in. Unfortunately I had to do some trouble shooting but eventually got it working again.

Picture of Raspberry Pi Zero being tested with a multi meter

Heart Valve Stent Life

One of classes I've taken for my masters program at California State University at Long Beach was stress analysis in design. I great fun learing about designing for a minimum service life. I had to consider crack growth AKA fracture mechanics. Here a are a couple of papers I wrote about the analysis of the service life of a heart valve.
MAE 672 Heart valve Stentpdf icon
MAE 672 Heart valve Stent 2pdf icon

Do it with free software

I like free software not only because it's free but because it has several important benefits over commercial software. It's great for collaboration and sharing things. If you tell a friend how to accomplish something or solve a problem using free software it's easy for them to give it a try. There is no financial objection. You don't need to worry that you can't help someone because they don't want to buy new software.

I'm planning on posting more reviews of free software as well as some how to articles in the future.

Open Office Draw Review

screen shot of open office draw

One of the more useful programs I use is Open Office Draw (OO Draw). It is part of the Open Office suite of products that are freely available at It comes with a PDF writer so you can send your documents in a clear high quality format. Of the free drawing programs I've tried, this stands out because it allows me to easily output files that use vector based graphics, specifically the Adobe PDF and encapsulated postscript (eps) formats. Vector based graphics have a major advantage over fully bitmap formats because you can have objects like lines and curves and they don't get blurry when you zoom in or enlarge them. Of course Open Office Draw will put out bit mapped formats like other programs do. It also is the best program I've used for drawing diagrams that use various mathematical symbols. I can use the open office equation writer to embed all kinds of mathematical symbols inside a drawing. This was extremely useful when I typeset my notes. You can also import several vector formats such as and enhanced meta file (EMF). One useful thing that I have done is use the Cool PDF Reader to transform a PDF file into an EMF file so I can import it into OO Draw. In OO Draw I can mark it up and and send it with my notes and it takes advantage of all the vector graphics in the PDF. If you've ever received a PDF file and wanted to modify it or use some materials on it, here is a workable and free solution.

Book Reviews

Head First HTML

cover of the book Head First HTML
Publisher: Oreilly

I decided to explore web page creation and found out that things had sure changed since I created my first web page. Back then I'm not sure cascading style sheets (CSS) even existed. Well Head first HTML got me up to speed in a fun, easy to understand, easy to absorb and easy to remember format. I used what I learned to completely redo this web site. You don't need an engineering or computer science degree to understand the finer points of HTML and CSS. If you are open to learning new things and you understand basic computer usage, this book can get you on your way to making great web pages that are easy to maintain. We'd have more people with graduate level degrees if the textbooks were written like this.

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

cover of the book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work
Author: John Gottman
Publisher:Three Rivers Press

Why would a bachelor review a book on marriage in a place dedicated to science and technology? For me this book stands out because Gottman shares how he scientifically studied relationships and was able to predict with a high degree of accuracy wheather a marriage would succeed of fail. This book was reccomended by a friend who said it had information that worked for all kinds of relationships. I've read books on relationships but this one brings it closer to a laboratory science. The results of Gottman's research give a compelling explanation for why some of the traditional views on marriage counseling don't produce the desired results. He gives practical advice for dealing with major problems. I found this book to be enjoyable and enlightening. I'm often tempted to critcise psychology as not being very scientific and it was a delight to see an example of psychology being an empirical science.

Continuing Education

I've taken several courses at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) and I've typeset my notes. These are works in progress but there is already a lot useful information here. I hesitated to put something that isn't completely finished but I decided that it was better to get information out when students were most likely to make good use of it than to make them wait any longer.

Turbulent Free Shear Flows

This course taught at UCI covered turbulence, specifically the kind you would have coming out of a jet or rocket. The course description is as follows.

MAE 233
Practical and theoretical aspects of turbulent free shear flows. Instability, global scaling laws, mixing, and noise generation in incompressible and compressible shear layers, jets, and wakes. Kelvin-Helmoltz instability, near- and far-field growth rates, effect of compressibility, aeroacoustics of jets.

MAE 233 Class notespdf icon

Engineering Analysis I

These are notes from a required graduate level course in the mechanical and aerospace engineering department at UCI. The course description is as follows.

MAE 200A
Linear algebra, including vector spaces, matrices, linear system of equations, and the eigenvalue problem. Scalar and vector field theory. Calculus of variations and optimization. Notions of stability for linear and nonlinear differential equations.

MAE 200A notespdf icon

Engineering Analysis II

These are notes from a required graduate level course in the mechanical and aerospace engineering department at UCI. The course description is as follows.

MAE 200B
Review of ordinary differential equations, including Bessel and Legendre functions. Partial differential equations, including the diffusion equation, Laplace's equation, and the wave equation. Fourier series, Fourier and Laplace transforms and their applications.

MAE 200B notespdf icon

Composite Materials and Structures

This course covered the analysis and design of composite structures and materials. Below is a course description, and a PDF of a fun assignment using ABAQUS finite element analysis software to do microstructure analysis.


Composite Materials and Structures- Motivation for composite materials. Different classifications according to the nature of the matrix (PMC, MMC, CMC) and the reinforcement topology (fibers, whiskers, particulates). Mechanical properties. Failure mechanisms. Designing with composite materials. Advantages and limitations of homogenization techniques for numerical modeling.

Fun assignment using ABAQUSpdf icon