Engineering Quote of the Day

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I explained, some say ranted, a week or two ago about the source of quotes in engineering publications. I noticed that some publishers of engineering literature will go so far as to use poets as sources of quotes. This rankles the engineer to no end. A poet? Please.

Today, we begin with periodic quotes from engineers or about engineers that are uplifting and sometimes motivating. Today’s quote is the phrase from engineering week a couple weeks ago that we shared with you. It is a phrase that explains engineers and what they do. It is a phrase which would make a great bumper sticker that would prompt many interesting conversations about engineering.

Today’s Quote:       “Celebrate Awesome.”

Nothing else to say.

The Story of Tom

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This is a story of a man we will call “Tom”, because that is his name. Tom is a non-engineer. He was listening to a fascinating story I was telling about aggregates and the influence of asphalt properties dues to the physical dimension of the aggregates in the mix. I won’t retell it here, but it was amazing.

Tom, who is a non-engineer – did I make that clear? – decided that since it was of no interest to him, he would pretend to fall asleep during the story. This act did its job, taking the attention away from the rather interesting engineering story and focusing it on his sleeping antics. He thought it was boring because of ignorance on matters of flat and elongated particles in an asphalt mixture and, further more, didn’t seem to want to learn about them. Tom is not right in the head, I think.

A week later, Tom approached me to apologize. He said that he felt so bad that night that he laid there in bed and couldn’t fall asleep, racked with guilt, haunted by regret, for having made fun of me, and pretty much all of engineering. Then Tom repeated that he couldn’t fall asleep, but then, he remembered my story and fell right to sleep. I don’t think his regret was sincere.

But all this brings up the issue of non-engineers not understanding the engineer or what the engineer does and not caring to. What is odd about that is that these Toms of the world benefit greatly from engineer – drinking clean water, using electricity, driving a vehicle on our highway system, and enjoying all the wonderful fruits of the engineers’ labors, and yet, still, this is what the engineer gets from the Toms in his life.

It is a good thing engineers are public servants and not bent on revenge. We could figure a great way to get back at him. But we won’t.

You Might Be an Engineer If…

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– an equation was any part of your planned marriage proposal.

10.00 and 39.99

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These numbers are displayed in a popular photo on the internet these days. They are shown on a gas pump with 10.00 being the gallons of gas bought and 39.99 being the cost, presumably, then, with the cost per gallon of $3.99 and that pesky 9/10 cents.

The title of the photo is something like, “Tough OCD Decision.” But, for the engineer, this decision is simply based on one thing. What are you going to do with the data? If the engineer wishes to calculate gas mileage, keep it at 10.00 gallons. If the engineer is keeping track of costs and budgets, bump it up to $40.00.

Of course, for the engineer, it really doesn’t matter, because once any of these numbers is entered into a spreadsheet that calculates mpg or tracks spending, whether it is a round number or not matters not.

So, to sum up. Engineers enjoy a round number like the rest of the world, though not needing them like some who are insistent upon them, because, engineers have calculators and computers and spreadsheets and algorithms and apps and programs and…. well, you get the idea.

Moving Rocks

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Although I should go through the calculations, I choose not to. Partly because the deed is done, and partly because of the general relationship between number of equations I produce on the processes around the house their inverse relationship to the general state of harmony.

At any rate, I will say that I should run the numbers.

My wife recently returned from a 435-mile trip from her parents with a number of rocks in the car. Yes, rocks. These are not a few geologic samples. These are for landscaping. A large number of them. She thought they were pretty. I thought, well, if we look around here, we could buy rocks within 10 miles of our home and even though we would have to pay for them, the cost may well be far below the cost of the “free” rocks she brought home. Two words need applied: transport costs.

If we take the weight of the rocks, the decrease in fuel efficiency due to the extra weight of the rocks in the car, the cost of extra gas to account for the increase in weight of the vehicle with the rocks in it. then we start to approach the true cost of the rocks.

For bringing back rocks to be worth it:

Cost of transport of “free” rocks < cost of local “non-free” rocks

There is a transport cost even for the local rocks, but we will assume this is negligible, being so close, meaning far less that the 435 miles of transport of the rocks from out of state.

Again, the numbers were not run, if only for the sake of peace and tranquility in the home.

You Might Be an Engineer If…

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– you have almost fallen asleep in an engineering presentation, but didn’t, because you realized that it was you that was presenting.

30 or something like it

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30 is an important number for this engineer and every other engineer licensed in this state. It is the number of hours of continuing education each of us must take every two years, or, as they like to say, every biennium (which is two years), in order to retain one’s license.

Every licensed engineer knows this number for their state. Without it we could not don the title P.E., which comes with all kinds of rights and privileges granted thereof.

As numbers go, it is somewhat important, if only to make sure we are able to sign plans and attest that, yes, we’re pretty sure this thing won’t fall down.

1 + 1 =

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This equation, and the answer to it, is of terrific value to the engineer. When deciding whether to ask a girl to marry him, the engineer will do an analysis. 1 + 1 = ________. The answer typically is 1.39664 or 1.43428. If it is less than 2, then it would make sense to get married. Marriage, as all things for the engineer, must be about efficiency. Whether the equation is for finances, which is a great asset in the engineer’s mind (living at lower cost), or for time savings (less time traveling around if not married and less coordination of schedules – he surmises), then if the number is less than 2, and it really makes sense to get married.

Sure, there is that vague concept of love, but how do you quantify that?

Stick with the calculations and a content life will be with that efficient couple.

Guess I should have written this one on Valentine’s Day.