Posts Tagged ‘Moon’

Engineers can just about do Anything!

November 28, 2010

I was watching a really neat DVD: “Moon Machines” from the Science Channel – again – I love this DVD. This is a really good DVD for an engineer. The problems chronicled are engineering problems; the people chronicled are engineers. The first show concerns the Saturn 5 rocket, and about seven minutes into the second scene, George Phelps, senior project engineer at North American Aviation from ’64-’68 says, “Engineers can just about do anything.” This quote is special – let me  repeat it:

“Engineers can just about do anything.”

I have met George, and he is a passionate engineer. George reminds me of my mentor Bill Thompson at Rockwell International… Bill taught me to be an engineer – I didn’t learn to be an engineer at university. As I type this post, I am pulling out my slide rules. I have three – a K & E Keffel & Esser from 1938 (my grandfather’s), a Charvoz-Roos (my father’s), and a Sterling Precision (mine). This is engineering “culture” lost. I remember in grade school when the PE coach called me, “ruler-head” because I kept my slide rule in my binder in my PE locker during PE…

You may think that I am weird, but I am here to tell you that engineers can just about do anything – this is indeed the case. You may not appreciate that. You may not fathom why that is the case, but it is. Engineers can just about do anything. Or as a good friend PN says, “Engineers make it work.”

I am an engineer – a good engineer, and a passionate engineer. The game has changed in the business world where an engineer is virtually unappreciated today, but I am here to tell you – an engineer can just about do anything.

Need something complicated done? Done right? Done well? Call an engineer!

We went to the moon… Now what?

July 19, 2009

40 years ago tomorrow after lunchtime, we landed on the moon. I recall being home in front of the TV all day and into the night with my face almost pressed up against the picture tube. My mother brought me lunch and dinner so that I wouldn’t miss a moment of what was surely history in the making. Humankind landed on the moon six times, and it became “old hat” and uninteresting to many if not most of the tax payers in the US. And then, human space exploration just stopped. Sure, people go into space fairly often today, but now we stop at Earth’s orbit.

The Apollo space program inspired me for a lifetime. I read about the solar system and the stars, and when I ran out of technical material, I cracked the spine of a good Asimov or Heinlein or Clarke sci-fi novel. When the elementary school library went to order books every month I submitted my request list, and over the years the “complexion” of the subject matter in the library evolved to a reflect my science interests. After a few years, the school Principal started to take me to the nearby high school library over lunch several times a month to check out their books on electronics, and I built a radio receiver that could receive the transmissions from the Apollo capsules in Earth orbit to the ground while the astronauts were immediately overhead. Yes, I was inspired. I still am, and the historical TV programming about the first lunar landing I watched today gave me goose bumps!

And sadly, Walter Cronkite, the newscaster I watched who covered every space launch died on Friday.

In my business, I recognize that there is value in promotion. I council businesses that have an exciting idea on where to introduce their products and services, and where to socialize potential extensions of their wares. Sometime, it is essential to fully socialize good ideas before they are ever born to elicit a buy-in from partners and customers and arrange for participation ahead of time. But sometime, it is necessary instead to stand up and say that you have a dream and to reach for it and let people simply get swallowed up in it with you and follow behind you as you pursue your objectives. The exceptional leader, though, follows both of these approaches simultaneously and uniquely with different audiences to launch a truly inspiring idea. Marvelous things rarely happen AIBM – as if by magic – there is invariably orchestration required to realize success. I think that President Kennedy must have been a brilliant leader to have put us on the road to the moon.

We went to the moon… Now what? What will truly inspire the world? Who will “sell it”? I am afraid I don’t know, but I’ll “think on it”. I don’t believe that going to Mars is the next “biggest thing”, but I for one would sure like to go there…