Posts in category: ‘Tips of the Trade’

How to hand off a project without infuriating the next engineer

Handing off a project to another engineer can be daunting. Aside from the personal attachment (the project is your baby), it can be difficult to articulate where the project has been, and where it needs to go. My background is in design engineering for the retail fixture industry, so I have worked for companies that are project based, not product based.

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How should engineers work with graphic designers?

Engineers are an analytical bunch. Function always comes before form. Take street signs, for example. Virtually all of these signs were written in all capital letters. This didn't change until recently - when research proved that that a combination of uppercase and lowercase characters is easier for the elderly to read. Now, signs are being replaced with the easier to read text. The engineers at the Federal Highway Administration didn’t make the decision to switch to a more attractive type until someone provided research that proves that it’s easier to read.

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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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Design for Assembly: taunting from the manufacturing floor

When it comes to design, sometimes what works in the uninhibited realm of solid modeling (where just about anything is possible) doesn’t make a bit of sense in the real world. A good design engineer knows this from experience. A bad design engineer may be lacking that same experience and may be in need of some hard feedback in order to improve. While you could pore over Powerpoint error count metrics and root cause analyses to systematically highlight specific design deficiencies, there’s a far simpler way: a good old-fashioned hasslin’ from “Bulldog.”

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Not your father’s NASTRAN (structural simulation isn’t safe from multi-domain 3D either)

Engineering is not art. There's much more to product development than welding on whatever you find lying around, Mad Max style, as long as it fits and functions. Engineering must last for a design life that for some products can span decades; and be safe to boot. It's here where the discipline of structural analysis comes to the forefront.

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