Tag Archives: Observations

You Can’t Always Get Kismet, But You Can Avoid Terrible

Sometimes things just come together. You end up with magic. Kismet. And maybe a nice trophy. And sometimes you don’t. My fraternity at Carnegie Mellon was rarely any good at Buggy (also called Sweepstakes) but we were always competitive in … Continue reading

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Working for Big Companies vs. Small Ones

I’ve worked mostly in smaller companies during my career, which has been a mixed blessing. I worked for two larger companies at the beginning of my technical career (and I guess you’d have to classify the Army as a large … Continue reading

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Solving the Right Problem

The cover of the June 2010 issue of Mechanical Engineering magazine asked the question, “Can Visionary Engineers Revive Industry in America?” Here’s the question I would ask: Did engineers break industry in America? To ask the question is to answer … Continue reading

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Artists and Technicians

A lot has been written about learning styles but there are questions about how meaningful it is and I’m not an expert anyway. I have, however, always felt that there are two opposing approaches to learning that each end where … Continue reading

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Getting “In The Zone”

I worked on nuclear power plant training simulators at Westinghouse with up to 250 colleagues. I obviously didn’t meet or get to know them all but I worked with and hung out with a bunch of them and some clearly … Continue reading

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What Can and Cannot Be “Homebrewed”

Americans (and many independent-minded people elsewhere) have always enjoyed solving problems on their own. There is nothing they won’t experiment with if they think it’ll do them some good. People have always worked with metal, wood, stone, leather, and cloth … Continue reading

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Listen, Listen, Listen

I’ve heard it said that you can learn from anyone, but you can only do that if you actually listen to them. If they aren’t talking, ask. Even if you choose not to take anyone’s suggestions they’re likely to be … Continue reading

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What Do You Just “See”?

One of my cousins is a totally extroverted, outgoing “superconnecter”. She is all people, all the time. She’s been everything from a restaurant hostess to a greeter and mascot’s assistant at Pittsburgh Pirates games to a small businesswoman with multiple … Continue reading

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Calculus… or Statistics?

Most roads in mathematics instruction seem to lead to calculus before any but the most basic statistics. Many statistical techniques require calculus to derive, but it isn’t usually necessary, short of advanced or novel applications, to know calculus when applying … Continue reading

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Be Honest When Things Go Wrong

One of the important lessons I learned at my first engineering job was to be honest and open at all times. This was never illustrated more clearly than when a refiner disc flew apart, tore through the pressurized refiner casing, … Continue reading

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