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Something every Mechanical Engineer should watch

  1. Jul 8, 2017 #1
    Here's a great video of what one guy has to say about what he learned at university.. He really hits the nail on the head..
    My favourite point is with "safety factors".. If something failed under normal use, it's not because you chose a 1.2 safety factor instead of a 1.5 safety factor, it's because you neglected to account for something.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 8, 2017 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Thanks @Rx7man -- good find.

    My favorite part of the video is his last point about "There is no substitute for practical experience". I'd modify that slightly to say that it includes building electronics kits for EE students, and building mechanical prototypes (including with the great new low cost 3-D printers) for ME students. I've found that building and debugging real devices helps you so much to learn to ask the right questions when taking theory classes. That was one of the most important things that helped me in undergrad.

    My summer job between my junior and senior years with Tektronix in Oregon was huge as well, but the electronics kits and projects I did on the side were an amazing help with my schoolwork learning in Uni. :smile:

    I'd be interested in hearing about the important lessons learned by others in University and starting your work in engineering...
  4. Jul 8, 2017 #3
    Reminds me of how R.P. Feynman put it in appendix F of the Roger's commission report on the Challenger spacecraft loss.
    IMO, appendix F is a fine example of how a scientist thinks, and ought to be required reading.
  5. Jul 8, 2017 #4
    I also liked his point that in school, it doesn't matter how many hours it takes you to do your project, as long as the project works, you're graded on how well it works, while as soon as you leave school, you find out that much more emphasis is placed on how fast you can finish the project in a fashion that it works acceptably well, even if it is a little shy of perfection.

    About the 10,000 hours to master a trade, while I do think that's a great guideline, there's something that is overlooked when you really want an expert in a field.. that would be that they eat, sleep, and breathe their trade... evenings and weekends, their thoughts don't go to a holiday in Maui, their thoughts go to how to find a solution to a complex problem.

    I worked at a packaging company, and the owner of the company was one such person.. 30 years in the business, 70 hours a week at the shop.. EVERY WEEK.. He was an uncannily sound sleeper, with his bedroom window open, the house across the street burnt down, fire trucks etc.. he didn't wake up (I wish I could sleep like that).. But in the middle of the night, he'd wake up with a "EUREKA" moment, open up his laptop and start drawing up parts. I enjoyed working with him because he showed dedication.. He wasn't golfing when there was a deadline, he was on the shop floor pulling wrenches like everyone else... Spent many a night (making for 24 hour workdays) when a machine didn't run and the customer was flying in to look at it in the morning.. and in desperation, together we solved a lot of problems.
    Here is one of the machines that cause the engineering department a lot of grief, and they were about to throw a $250,000 machine in the garbage... In the end, with dedication and stick-to-itiveness, I got it running properly (how do you glue wax together??)

    I'll read that Appendix F in its entirety in a bit.. the first page has some golden nuggets already!
  6. Jul 8, 2017 #5
    I just finished reading it... It really makes it look like NASA is based in Russia!.. Is it going to make it? Well.. it might.. Good enough, lets have a drink and fire it off!
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