Author Archive

Effecting Change at Work, or How to Engineer a Better Outcome

“The only thing that is constant is change.” Heraclitus 500BCE

I live and work in what is known as “Silicon Valley.” Not really any different than any other densely populated industrial high-tech area, other than the fact that just like the Hollywood of the 1930’s, Silicon Valley has a national reputation for “opportunity.” If you have an idea for a service or a product that might fill a need (even if it is a very narrow niche need), there is enough money floating locally to create a “startup.”

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Engineering Advice: Experts Often Possess More Data Than Judgment

It feels like I started my current job just yesterday. I was 23 years old, just a few months out of school, looking to start a new career at a new company. I blinked – and it’s almost 30 years later and instead of being the youngest engineer in the technical group, I am one of the “old guys” who is much closer to retirement than 95 percent of my co-workers.  But, if I've learned one thing over my 30-year career and can offer some engineering career advice, it's that experts aren't formed just be career longevity. 

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3D Printing Helps Volkswagen Race to the Clouds for Pikes Peak

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, also known as The Race to the Clouds, is an annual automobile and motorcycle race to the summit of Pikes Peak, Colorado, but this year's race might be even more extraordinary than usual thanks to 3D printing.

Racers take on the 12.42-mile public toll road, which contains a whopping 156 turns. Total elevation climb is 4,720 feet. At the summit, the elevation is 14,115 feet above sea level.

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Technology and Storytelling, or Sometimes You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

There is lots of talk and written matter about the acceleration of technology, and even about acceleration of acceleration of technology.

Perusing articles about the upcoming singularity, it is easy to find charts showing the curves of attainable speeds of data transfer that extrapolate beyond the 5G networks into the terahertz range and beyond. It is a wonderful, and somewhat scary, to think that in less than 10 to 15 years, I will be on the wrong side of “singularity,” and my kid will not be able to explain to me the technology that he takes for granted. Even more fascinating is contemplating the fact that beyond not being able to comprehend technology, I might not be able to understand the society that is shaped by that new technology. It doesn’t seem possible that we, the generation that has the world at its fingertips, will be as lost as a misplaced 10th century farmer time traveling to the current Silicon ValleyBrave New World indeed.

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The Day I Decided I Need a Mentor, or How to Become a Better Engineer

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” — Isaac Newton

One of the first tasks that I handled as a Project Manager (versus a Team Lead working with a group of specialists in a particular technical discipline) was lifting a wind tunnel model from its work stand and installing it in a calibration fixture. The calibration fixture was going to be utilized to calibrate the internal balance used to measure thrust and side forces that experimental rotors would generate during testing. I was feeling pretty good about my expanded role and felt I could handle the lift with no problems.

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The Art of Working With Difficult People

Someone once said: ”I like difficult people because that means they're perfectionists and they're passionate.”

That is a nice turn of phrase and an interesting perspective on a potentially difficult situation. I like that. But, let’s just be honest for a second, no matter your level of experience, no matter the industry you are working in, you have had to work with difficult people, and no matter how nice it is to know you are working with passionate perfectionists, it can still be frustrating, stressful, and a major bummer.

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Engineering Graphics for Your Project Presentation 101

It’s easy to get excited about a project that you are working on – in fact, it happens to me all the time.

I start working on something and as I find out more about the technical issues, or the work’s relevance in the overall scheme of things, I get more and more excited about the work that I am doing. And when I get an opportunity to present out the status of the project or brief the experts on a particular issue being worked on, I want to make sure I present as full of a picture of the project as possible. That just makes sense: good data in = good results out.

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