Posts in category: ‘Engineering Management’

The end of part numbers

A new year is a time for renewal, opportunity, and new beginnings. For engineers, however, it's a chance to argue about part numbers some more. I love the smell of part numbers in the morning. Whether your allegiance lies with the Generic Numbering Coalition (GNC) or the Confederacy of Intelligent Numbers (CIN), valid arguments worth defending exist on both sides. We've covered both factions and spaces in-between. The pursuit of part number perfection, however, may lie in mutually assured destruction. The part number is a lie. For one day, perhaps sooner than you think, part numbers will be no more.

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What’s the root of ethics in engineering?

In all the fireworks debating whether software engineering is somehow a subversive underling of "real" engineering, we've only touched on the underlying core issue: engineering ethics. In the Twitterverse, many were quick to invoke the Calling of the Engineer ceremony, specifically citing a symbolic iron ring as indicative of the higher standard for which software engineers are not invited. Here's the problem: costume jewelry doesn't magically impart ethics, unless perhaps you graduated from Hogwarts. I might as well have fabulous secret powers revealed to me, hold aloft my magic sword, and say "By the power of engineering!" Fantastic magical crap aside, what then is the root of ethics in engineering?

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The evolution of design intent (drawings are dead, drafting is not)

It's been about a year since we boldly declared drawings dead, and despite citing some major caveats about the accessibility of enabling tools, the conversation nonetheless sparked a wee bit of controversy. A strong theme in that conversation focused on how classically drafted information critical to the design (tolerances, material specifications, surface treatments, finishes, etc.) can possibly remain readily accessible in an all-digital future. Especially difficult to imagine was how someone on the shop floor trying to run an inspection could possibly be hassled with all this new-fangled PMI garbage by fumbling a tablet from “those $%@# engineers.”

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ECOs are stupid II: The price of unincorporated change

The venerable Engineering Change Order (ECO) has certainly had its day in the opulent halls of classical change management, but thanks to technology, ECOs might very well be on the path to extinction. Last time we mentioned that ECOs are slow and stupid, we emphasized that reducing overall ECO cost involves more than just reducing avoidable change. The second half of that battle involves the change process itself, evolving it to be both more agile and effective. Protip: It’s all about addressing the weaknesses of unincorporated change.

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The manager’s guide to deputizing technology advocacy

A couple of months back, we provided some insight about how to manage the relentless pace of engineering and manufacturing technology by empowering the right talent at your company. One of those recommendations –make technology advocacy part of someone’s job description– seemed simple enough. However, you might have wondered how that might be possible in today’s engineering rush – when everyone’s in the middle of fifteen things, all of them annoying. That’s why we’re here.

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Meet the manager of engineering labs at Bell Helicopter

Ever since I was a little boy I have been interested in helicopters - one of the most complex and intriguing flying vehicles. In my opinion, developing a reliable and safe rotorcraft is on the leading edge of engineering. Naturally, I was very excited when Randall Willnow, Manager of Engineering Labs, Materials and Processes at Bell Helicopter agreed to answer a few questions. I could talk about their aircraft forever, but for brevity's sake I stuck to more high-level questions.

Bell Helicopter is a division of Textron and an American rotorcraft manufacturer headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. The company was founded in 1935 and has delivered more than 35,000 aircraft to date.

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There’s a giant difference between hiring engineer #2 and hiring engineer #10

Last summer, we talked on this blog about when to hire new CAD help. A reader, Jason Thompson from Sparta Engineering, sent me a note with this observation: As you weigh the costs and benefits of hiring a new engineer, you also need to consider whether you’re adding your tenth engineer or your first or second. He’s right, and here’s why.

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