July 23, 2016

My Job No One Knows

My first job after college was a career I never heard of. Even though my parents are engineers, never learned about Manufacturing Engineers. Am not alone, there are many careers no one knows about or understands.

Design engineers are what everyone thinks of for engineering. The people who can take a idea and create from scratch new products is what people think of engineers. (That and we drive trains and sound the whistle) Truth is even simple products need vastly different skills and talents to be made successfully.

Manufacturing has designers, design engineers, toolmakers, tool designers, industrial engineers, machine designers, planners, production mangers, and the craftsmen who put products together every day. Every small product takes a team of people to accomplish everything you touch or hold.

Manufacturing and tooling engineers are often considered second-class citizens by management. The example that comes to mind is I was in my thirties before I had desk younger than I. Sales had the fancy offices. Production is industrial. And manufacturing engineers plan, coordinate, improve and team to make it happen.

Why do it? I love it. Am fascinated by technology, products and services. The challenge of find the easiest way, the least cost, a faster way, a safer way, and to make your product better is consuming. People need help and you solve problems. You wake up at night with new ideas how.

Nothing happens instantaneously. The first version doesn’t work. The second round can’t be made as designed. The third version needs to be more reliable. And competition means the cost has to go down. There are always problems and challenges that have to be overcome. Innovation, creativity and persistance are key. You work hard to make your team succeed.

Production celebrates shipping new products like teams winning playoffs. Anything great is the result of lots of hard work.

There is a sense of accomplishment and knowing you have done what others could not with new products. New production systems may be invented, tools created specially for your product, people need to be trained, instructions and documents written, and schedules met.

Manufacturing is a great career even if no one understands what you do.

“Make Something Better.” Bill Boeing

July 16, 2016

Happy 100th Birthday Boeing

The original Pacific Aero Products Company celebrates turning 100 today. Boeing is now a huge international company known worldwide. It was originally a few men who believed they could make better airplanes, and they did. From the original B&W Model 1 to the Clipper to WW2’s B-17 to B-52 to 707’s original jet age to 727 to the iconic 747 to the great F-15 to the amazing C-17 and F-18 to today’s 787, Boeing makes wonderful airplanes.

Boeing is the 3rd company I have worked for with over 100 years of history. Celebrated Colt Firearms 150th anniversary, and Sargent and Company dated back to 1864 making builders hardware.

What do these companies have in common?
  • ·      Innovate great products and services.
  • ·      Look out for their customers & end users. They care.
  • ·      Always becoming more productive.
  • ·      Adapt and adjust to market conditions.
  • ·      Always learning, especially from failures.
  • ·      Hire and develop great people.

Boeing has “The Incredibles” who built the first 747 in ~16 months while the factory was built around them. Supervisors would sometimes have to walk people out to their cars and watch them leave to make sure they went home for a break. (You cannot pay for performance like that.)

A lot of people will honor Boeing today and it is well deserved. Boeing people “Enthusiastically Tackle Challenges” through the decades, and do so today.

This is the best company ever worked for. What took me so long to get here?

July 8, 2016

All Lives Matter

It has been a rough week. None of these make sense. Take a deep breathe:
Philando Castile should not have died in Minnesota. A man announcing he has a permit is unlikely ever to threaten a police officer with his gun. To get a permit he has to prove his law-abiding status. Why was the officer so afraid? All because a light was burnt out?
Alton Sterling was selling home made CDs outside a store where he had been selling for years. There was a complaint about him. Why would a unlicensed business be penalized more than a fine? The most he should have gotten was a ticket. Not two police wrestling him to the ground and then shooting him. He did not deserve to die.
The Dallas police were there to protect a peaceful protest. How did a lone shooter choose to kill 5, wound 7 others plus 2 civilians? He did not surrender and wanted to die fighting the police to kill more. Why Dallas police officers? 
The Dallas police have an enviable record of community policing, deescalating situations, training officers, and crime rates Chicago and Washington DC would be jealous of in a vibrant international city. They did not deserve to die.
Lets not forget the most killings this week: Suicides take twice as many lives than all other gun incidents combined.
Nor let us forget the homeless people attacked and killed in San Diego while they slept.
Banning guns will not stop crime nor suicides. If anything crime rates go up. Dallas has a high number of permit holders, and the crime rate has gone down in the years since the law was changed to allow anyone with a clean record who takes safety training a permit. 
What we need to remember is most people are good. We count on our police to deal with difficult people, drunk or high, the mentally ill, and normal civilians. Bad cops exist like bad people exist in any organization. But by and large most people should be treated with respect.
We have to become We again. You may have different views, vote for different candidates, go to different churches or no church, have different ethnicities, grew up in other countries, dress different, or like different music. Under the skin we are all people who bleed the same, hurt when we lose loved ones, and love our children.
Greet your neighbors and strangers on the street. Show respect and care. It is time to make communities, not enemies. It starts with us.

July 2, 2016

Happy 4th of July

In the US we celebrate our independence. Let’s celebrate our blessings:
  • ·      Freedom of speech. We take for granted ranting and complaining about our politicians. Anyone in the public eye gets criticized. Try that in a dictatorship.
  • ·      The President only is in control for 4 or 8 years. If they fail to produce, or even if they do they will be replaced when their term is up.
  • ·      Three branches of government keep anyone from too much power.
  • ·      Courts often defend the public from the government by applying limits.
  • ·      The Constitution and Bill of Rights guide our courts.
  • ·      Freedom of religion. Everywhere we travel you see churches, temples, mosques and more from everywhere.
  • ·      World’s Largest Economy - close to ¼ of world’s economy.
  • ·      California would be the 8th largest economy in the world.
  • ·      Diversified with manufacturing, transportation, raw materials, super computers, software, insurance, finance, services, and food to feed the world.
  • ·      Inventors and entrepreneurs are celebrated. Creative people keep improving our lives.
  • ·      Immigrants who come and create opportunities.
  • ·      New medical discoveries and research extend our healthy life.
  • ·      Crime is at record low levels throughout most of the country except for a few dysfunctional cities.
  • ·      US citizens are the most generous givers all over the world in times of disaster and hardship. Look at churches ministries, Bill & Melinda Gates, and other charities helping improve lives all over the world for example.
  • ·      American soldiers sacrifice to free people from tyranny all over the world. Then they come home.

The United States keeps improving our life and lives of people around the world. As difficult as life is and as imperfect as we people are, remember to celebrate our successes.

God bless the USA.

June 25, 2016

What Brexit Means?

Unexpected social change. Britain voted to Leave the European Union. The stock markets dropped and gold went up as investors react with fear to the surprise. I am among the many who never thought this vote would happen.

The British people will go through changes. But Brussels is shocked because they thought no one wanted to upset years without war. Doesn’t everyone want our leadership and rules? No one wants overreaching rules telling us how little we can do.

The leaders of the EU do not realize their advice and interference is holding economies back. Iceland and Ireland both ignored EU edicts to follow austerity rules and raise taxes. They reorganized and their economies have recovered fairly quickly. How well are Greece and Spain doing? France’s economy is struggling, and Italy & Portugal economies are a real mess following EU advice. Germany cannot pay for all EU’s issues.

What may happen next? Britain is going to have tough negotiations. The EU leadership will want to prevent other countries from leaving. Some members may want to be more reasonable because their countries may want to leave. Netherlands is likely to have a referendum next.

Most countries will find a way to trade with Britain. Why would you not want to trade with the 5th largest economy? Already heard proposals Britain be invited to join NAFTA.

Will there be a recession? Of course, recessions are a normal part of the economic cycle. Will it be as bad as 2008 crisis? No.

Change is a constant in life. Accept it, adjust to change, and keep enjoying life. Children still grow up and we grow a little wiser. Keep your faith. Life goes on.

June 18, 2016

Get Your Satisfaction

Being Unsatisfied is our normal state. Actually it is a good thing we are not satisfied with the way our situation is. This motivates us to make changes for the better.

Something that doesn’t work motivates me to fix it or replace it. It is why we invent new tools and come up with new solutions. It is how the human race grows.

Still it is not easy. You don’t feel good. How do you stay motivated? How do you relax?

For example every job gets repetitive, boring, co-workers complain, something does not work, and life gets frustrating. What do you do? Find something about you job you like.

I worked for lock companies, which sounds boring after aerospace. What motivated me for years was the mission. We were protecting people and their businesses. Would dive deeper into problems, learn more and think of creative ways to improve our products and services.

My current position does not use all my skills. My position is in a bit of a silo. My motivation is helping mechanics by simplifying their instructions, removing obstacles and providing better tools to be productive.

Get comfortable with being a little uncomfortable. Try something new outside your strengths. Introduce yourself to strangers. Ask awkward questions. Go somewhere you aren’t sure you belong. See what is like and who you meet there.

Along the way you will grow.

June 11, 2016

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

This question is usually answered with a job or a wish. Fireman, Teacher, Nurse, or what someone in our family does. Truthfully we are so young we don’t know what it means.

One parent is looking to give up her Chairmanship. Her young son tells her he can take over. “I set up the chairs every week.” Different meanings are lost on us.

“In general we are least aware of what our minds do best.”
      Professor Marvin Lee Minsky, MIT AI Lab

Professor Minsky studied intelligence and want to develop thinking machines to act like humans. The complexity of intelligence is our mind can learn several different ways. We observe, smell, interact, manipulate, taste, experiment, love and experience. All at the same time. Look at people interacting with their pets. How complicated are the behaviors of both human and pet?

Further our brains handles health functions like breathing, digesting and waste without much conscious thought. We pull back from hot, avoid predators, entertain others, and navigate around by distance, direction & landmarks in a complicated world. A Artificial Intelligence machine like that will require building lots different skills, and integrating them all to be like a human.

Often talents pop out and we wonder where did that come from? Why am I the only one who knew the answer? How come no one else understood him? Why didn’t they know what she meant? My favorite - “It was easy. Anyone could do it.”

We sometimes get mentors who recognize our talents and start to lead us. Often we muddle through and struggle what to do. You are far from alone. Often wonder what should be doing with these different gifts I have.

The hell of life is we are born for greatness. But we neither know why, or what our talents are. Finding out may take our whole life.

Happy hunting, and share what you learn.