Tag Archives: Engineering

A ship in port is safe

A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. I want all the youngsters to sail out to sea and be good ships. — G. Hopper

I opened with a quote from Grace Hopper. This could and maybe should be a chapter in a book on education. Admiral Hopper retired from the Navy at age 80. She was a pioneer in the field of computing and is credited with discovering the first computer ?bug?, a moth that was stuck in a relay the Mark 2 .

As I read the quote, a couple or things strike me. First, it is a challenge to take risks. We are risk averse, at least where it is important. People take risks all the time. We go skiing, bungee jumping, motorcycling and sky diving yet we are afraid to take risks that are not life threatening. I am told by students all the time, ?What if I fail??, ?What if it doesn’t work??. Why are we afraid of the challenge?

I have taken a number of risks over the years, I started a business, I took jobs that I really was not qualified for, and most of them paid off. I also was afraid to take a number of risks, not trusting my instincts or my own abilities. Looking back, if I regret anything, it was the times that I stayed in port, looking for that safe harbor.

I encourage everyone to try things, it’s OK to fail. Just learn from your failures.

Secondly, be good ships. What does that mean? I think it means to act in an ethical manner. Don’t abuse or mistreat others. Think about the consequences of what you are doing and how it will affect others.

Number 7: What I didn’t Learn in Engineering School. Be an Apprentice!

Be an apprentice!

Become an apprentice, not the Donald Trump kind. Find someone you work with that will apprentice you. They will show you the details of the job. This is different than a mentor although it could be the same person. The person that you apprentice with shows the in’s and out’s of the job. They will show you how to make a cable, how to troubleshoot a problem. Most trades once were apprentice programs. You would start out as an apprentice. In the past this would often start at about age seven and last for 10 years. You then became a journeyman and finally a master.

In the fast changing tech world, it would be difficult to spend 10 or more learning something since that would be obsolete after that long. You can still follow the idea and learn the basic skill that you will build on in the future.

Once you are a master, find someone to be your apprentice.

Number 6: What I didn’t Learn in Engineering School. Make the Coffee!

Make the Coffee!

Actually I already new this one. Don’t be the person that empties the coffee pot and doesn’t start a new pot. If you are the first one in, make coffee. If you walk by and the pots empty, make more. Do it even if you don’t drink coffee. This goes for tea or the beverage of choice at work.

I have worked with people that would not do the little things like make coffee. I have worked in a place that they took out the community pot because the secretary and I were the only ones that made coffee. She didn’t drink it, others did.

If it is not coffee, it will be something else. This will tell people that you are a team player. It will say a lot about you even if you never receive a direct thank you.

By the way, you can spring for donuts occasionally.