Of course, engineers can enjoy fireworks as well as anyone. It is fireworks season and since my town had its fireworks last night, I will update you on how an engineer can loosen up, relax, and have fun with the fireworks, making them more enjoyable for everyone.

Fireworks are set off and work through a series of flames, projectile motions, and explosions. All of these are of interest to the engineer. But it is likely that most engineers will not be part of the development of the fireworks, nor the setting off of the fireworks, but instead, he will sit there with friends or family and watch them. That does not mean the engineer has to sit idle. He can develop a rating system that will score each individual firework, until, of course, the finale. Then they go too quickly.

But during the show, the engineer can fill out a spreadsheet, scoring each firework on the following:

height; width; unique shapes; number of colors; number of embedded fireworks; volume of the “Ooh”‘s and “Aah”‘s invoked; uniqueness factor

Each of these can be scored – say, on a scale of 1-10 for all but number of colors and embedded fireworks – for each firework and an equation can be written into the spreadsheet to derive at a final score for the fireworks.

The spreadsheet will look like a normal spreadsheet, with the engineer filling in the left seven columns, and the equation, with weighting factors, calculating the right-most column – the overall score. The equation can go something like this:

FS = .1xh + .2xw + .1xs + .35xc + .4xe + .15xa + .15xu

With FS being the Fireworks Score, I am sure you can discern what the variables are for since they follow the factors listed above. The engineer can then make this even more fun, or possibly simply more intriguing, by tweaking the values of the weights, shown by the constants, associated with each factor. And, of course, have everyone join in.

Fireworks – yet another experience that the engineer can make more fun with the appropriate approach.