Category: engineering

Books That Messed with My Head (2018 Update)

Note: I posed a question at the bottom of the original blog and in August 2016 added two book to the bottom of the list in response. In 2018 added two more books. Books are fun, but very occasionally I have encountered books that have actually changed my understanding of humanity and the world. Only a very small number… Read more »

Not Garbage In, But Still Garbage Out

The collapse of the Florida International University pedestrian bridge will undoubtedly result in some serious soul searching by the engineering community. In looking at it from the outside, my first gut instinct tells me that there was an error in the structural analysis of this rather pretty, but really quite complex structure, while it was only… Read more »

Patenting and Copyrighting Great Ideas

My wife posted this picture on my Facebook page. I copy it here because the picture made me think, and that led me right into a patent and copyright approach that I have been toying with for a number of years. First of all, I could not figure out where the picture came from (who owns it), but… Read more »

It Is The CO2, Stupid!

Concern over global warming is valid. Global warming almost certainly will result in instabilities that, at best, will be less than convenient, and, at worst, devastating. However, as an engineer, I am frustrated that we tend to confuse causes, effects and solutions of global warming. Causes, effect and solutions are all related and rationally engaging those… Read more »

Houston! We Have A Nomenclature Problem

A recent Wall Street Journal article named The Myth of Basic Science by Matt Ridley makes a fascinating argument that government spending on basic science does not result in technical innovation. The article argues that, instead, most innovation results from tinkering, and only after the tinkering results in new technology, will science catch up to… Read more »

Solving the Really Difficult OWS and Police Brutality Problems

In engineering there are the difficult problems and the really difficult problems. Getting to the moon or designing a safe replica schooner is difficult. The really difficult engineering problems often require that the user also needs to be re-engineered. Such problems may involve removing addiction or stopping irrational behavior or reducing poverty or altering preconceived… Read more »

A Fatigue Engineering Joke

There is a Cold War (remember, that was before 1989) engineering joke that goes as follows: The Russians had built a brand new huge airplane, and it was the pride of Russia, but they had a continuous problem with fatigue fracturing at the wing to fuselage connection. They tried everything and it just kept fracturing…. Read more »

Always Good and Clean Engineering

I remember standing at the Newport News Shipyard gate in the 90’s next to Dorothy the tugboat and reading the shipyard’s motto: “We will build good ships here — at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always good ships” This motto was apparently coined by Collis Huntington, founder of… Read more »

Not Within A Thousand Years Will Man Ever Fly. (Wilbur Wright 1901)

110 years after the first powered flight, I revisited Kitty Hawk with my college roommate John Mitchell and our wives. In the 31 years since my last visit, the surrounding area had become much more urbanized, but the park itself still tasted like that modest test facility that the Wright brothers had put together in… Read more »

In Praise Of High School Engineering Interns

Engineering is an unusual profession. While it is often thought to be related to math and science and thought to be exact, it actually is a very complex blend of perspiration, inspiration, communication, confusion, calculation and evaluation and the math and science is only a tiny part of a much larger whole. This makes it… Read more »