Author Archive

Generational labels are stupid. Engineering transcends age

A tired old greybeard engineer, sits arms folded, frown fully deployed, carrying an unhealthy skepticism of any IT trend sporting a cute monosyllabic name, as he glares at the young punk across the table - a "Millennial." The youthful opponent, looks up momentarily from her Instagram post as if to make an impassioned, ecologically sound plea to experiment with a new technology or process, then quickly down again – Squirtle's just around the corner!

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Even Elon can’t get us to Mars

Mars has long been and continues to be a frustratingly elusive dream for many an aerospace engineer, wannabe astronaut, or die hard Total Recall fan alike. It’s a subject many people including myself are deeply passionate about. And despite the nearly 50 years of technological progress since the Moon landing, we are arguably still rather ill-prepared to reach the Red Planet. That’s precisely why watching Elon’s recent Mars reveal in front of the International Astronautical Congress felt like an exasperatingly tragic lost opportunity. Perhaps about as aggravating as Arnold getting blown out of an action set piece to asphyxiate in a red wasteland, albeit without the insta-terraforming plot device to conveniently save the day.

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The amazing, fantabulous, bewildering world of cloud CAD: application delivery

Invocation of the word “cloud” has now reached a saturation point among CAD circles. Any CAD vendor without some sort of cloud strategy by now would be wise to run -not walk- to the nearest clue dispensing station. Cloud is becoming less of a counterculture alternative, but rather an essential piece of every current and future CAD solution.

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Engineering career advice: so you want to jump industries?

So perhaps you've stared at aircraft floor beams, or HVAC condensers, or oversized pipeline fittings for the last ten years. As you stare longingly into the window of the break room microwave, not noticing that your hot pocket is starting to suffer radiation burns, you realize that for whatever reason, you're in a rut. Maybe you're no longer growing in your position, or the company feels different, or maybe it's you that's different. What to do... So you want to jump industries, eh? Well there's no time like the present. Jump. Jump now. But please try to mind the bottomless pit below.

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The amazing, fantabulous, bewildering world of cloud CAD: Infrastructure

"Cloud" is now a household word in today's engineering software landscape. That's both good and bad. Good in that new technology is actively being sought and aggressively adopted for CAD applications, bad in that the term places a whimsically diverse range of development, delivery, infrastructure, and virtualization technologies under one fantastically generic umbrella. So when it comes to cloud CAD, there's naturally quite a bit of consternation over whether your particular flavor of cloud-enabled CAD software might be pure, true, or perhaps even fluffy enough.

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How design democratization leads to graphical commoditization

When you associate the state of CAD graphics to an alien conspiracy it just might incite a cheer, conversely perhaps a bit of rage, or in the very best case thoughtful commentary from a lagomorph well versed in computational geometry. The crux of my original article was not to convict or condemn, but rather to warn that the continually evolving CAD universe, and by association professional CAD graphics, is on the precipice of something here unto unforeseen and unimagined. It might seem like the end of all things. Something disconcerting enough that a forlorn and distraught Samwise Gamgee might longingly implore, "Don't professional graphics matter, Mr. Frodo?" For which our brave hobbit might reply: "They do Sam, they do. But not for me."

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What Industry 4.0 means for you

Industry! The term evokes vivid images of long assembly lines, factory floors rife with robotic automation, and perhaps even big men putting screwdrivers into things. Creatively append a version number at the end of this well-established piece of vocabulary, however, and suddenly that crystallized mental image falters somewhat, derailed with the introduced ambiguity of a new manufacturing initiative. What precisely is Industry 4.0? More importantly, why should you care? And, most importantly, why the decimal? Are there industry point releases in the wings?

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The virtual, augmented reality of reality computing

Say it with me: reality computing. It certainly sounds like a throwaway nonsense line cut from the Lawnmower Man screenplay, a particularly egregious instance of Star Trek Voyager technobabble, or perhaps a clutch verbal aberration used to clinch the international championship in buzzword bingo. Joking aside, there's an important, developing technology concept behind the bemusing moniker. But what exactly is real (or computational for that matter) about reality computing?

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No, you don’t want to be a welder: how manufacturing employment is changing

Forget college, be a welder and pull down the big bucks. It's a plausible fantasy perpetuated by cartoons, infographics, poorly researched articles, and even politicians unfairly pitting vocational training against the steadily rising cost of college degrees. After all, there's at least one young welder who manages serious money, $140K per year in fact. It's understandable to incorrectly assume that the future of manufacturing is all about the welding. Such a career strategy might work if you happen to entertain a Michael Bay outlook on life, where you expect to ride space shuttles for some space job flying through pew-pew explosions in exchange for bringing back 8-track tapes and refraining from paying income taxes ever again. The reality is that manufacturing employment is rapidly changing and technology is, as always, at the core of that transformation.

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