Author Archive

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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The “Perfect” Cup of Coffee: The Project Cycle

Let me admit something up front: I didn’t start drinking coffee until I turned 40.

In our current caffeinated society, where 32-ounce morning coffee thermoses are the norm, this must sound pretty backwards or maybe unsophisticated. Truth be told, I thought coffee tasted bitter and had an acidy aftertaste. Unless I put so much sugar and milk into my coffee that it started tasting like coffee ice cream, I wouldn’t drink it.

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To Manage, or Not to Manage, From the Perspective of a NASA Engineer

When my first engineering internship turned into a full-time job after graduation, my supervisor called me in for a chat. He wanted to talk about possible opportunities in the company, and give me some advice based on his experiences. When he asked me where I saw myself in five to six years, I told him I expected to be in management. I didn’t have the gall to say it to his face, but basically I figured I wanted his job.

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