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Robots to the Rescue – Second Robotics Comic Explores Pipes and Pipelines

By Paul Lief Rosengren

Pipeline Gets Rescued

Pipeline Gets Rescued

FREE to IEEE Members
Non-Members: $2.99

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Many things sit under the roads of our cities and towns: possible archeological ruins, dinosaur bones, worms and, of course, pipes­ — many pipes.  There are pipes that carry gas for heating homes, cooking food and drying clothes; that carry water to homes and offices; and that transport wastewater to treatment plants.  For decades when a pipe ceased to work (flow stopped by a blockage; or flow would not stop because of a breakage), utility workers had to make a best guess at where the problem was — and just start digging. This hit or miss approach was a little like playing battleship: sometimes you got it right on the first try, and sometimes you had dig and dig and dig. It was expensive, not to mention disruptive, for those who needed to traverse the roads.

Innovators pioneered, developed and deployed robots to investigate, locate and pinpoint pipeline problems and issues. Author, pioneer and IEEE-USA educational volunteer leader Harry T. Roman developed and tested robots for utility work at Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G). He also helped forge an industry group to share and disseminate utility robot technology. In his second IEEE-USA comic portrayal of robots in action, Pipeline Gets Rescued, Roman again illustrates how robots are not just for science fiction stories, but are currently in use, solving problems and improving our lives.

In this installment, Jen deploys a specialized robot named “Pipeline” — to search out a problem in a wastewater pipe using sensors and cameras to locate the problem and collect samples for testing. Along the way, Pipeline encounters problems and requires rescuing by another robot, “Samson.”

In the introduction to the book, Roman explains that this comic (along with the first in the series, Rover Boy Gets Steamed Up!), is “designed to entertain readers, young and old; and to demonstrate how we can use robots in the service of humanity, performing real-life tasks.” He adds that the books are meant to illustrate “how advanced computer applications embodying artificial intelligence” and “neural networks are not to be feared — but understood,” containing vast potential for doing good in our world.

Pipeline Gets Rescued and Rover Boy Gets Steamed UP! are available free for IEEE members at the IEEE-USA Shop.  Non-members pay $2.99. Also available at the IEEE-USA shop are books from Harry T. Roman’s five-book series on engineering activities for the classroom (Book 4 is on Robotics), as well as his numerous books on various other engineering topics. Look for a third robotics comic book from Roman to be published by IEEE-USA in the near future.

In 2005, Roman was honored as Inventor of the Year by the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame for his application of robots in hazardous environments. While at PSE&G’s R&D department, he received 12 U.S. Patents, and in 2006 IEEE honored him with an Outstanding Engineer award.

Roman is a prolific writer, and his passion for engineering, and all things STEM-related, shines through in his writing. He has written many books for IEEE-USA, and IEEE has honored him with a Meritorious Achievement Award for developing continuing education products for its members. Roman has worked with schools around New Jersey, bringing the excitement of real-world problem-solving into the classroom. He has taught management courses at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), and The New Jersey Technology Education and Engineering Association named Roman a Distinguished Technology Educator. For the past three years, he has taught graduate courses at Montclair State University, where he co-teaches a course on applying STEM techniques in the classroom.

Roman is a great admirer of Thomas Edison. He serves as an advisor/author to the Edison Innovation Foundation; and he is also a docent/special lecturer at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange, NJ.


Paul Lief Rosengren

Paul is the coauthor of In the Time of Covid: One Hospital's Struggles and Triumphs. He worked for more than three decades in corporate communications at NBC, PSE&G, BD and in state government. He has a Master’s in Public Policy from The Kennedy School of Government, Harvard; and an undergraduate degree in political science from Dickinson College.

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