Young Engineers Blog

March 19, 2010 - 09:33
When former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan coined the phrase “irrational exuberance” in the mid 1990s, he was referring to the seemingly irrational behavior that the markets were exhibiting with regards to general consumption. The S&P Index had been climbing to record levels even as the economic environment suggested that a more conservative consumer response would have been more prudent. In the 1990s, this exuberance ended in the infamous dot-com bust at the turn of the millennium. However, acting irrationally can sometimes produce beneficial results where self improvement...
February 1, 2010 - 08:31
In the present economic straits, even some of the most robust corporations have just now begun to start climbing up out of the embers. Of the many books on the subject that have appeared, Jim Collins’sHow the Mighty Fall, captures the act of collapse from a systems point of view. Written actually before our present recession, Collins and his team discretized corporate collapse into distinct phases, some survivable, some irrecoverable. Many of these underlying principles have analogous examples to our careers as engineering professionals. In comparison, Collins’s five stages overlap very...
December 18, 2009 - 15:37
The end of the year is upon us, but before you devote all your free time to catching up on episodes ofLostor making round-trip sojourns to the eggnog punch bowl, consider a few other ways to make the most of your holiday gift of Outlook-calendar free time. Don’t underestimate what some quality time off can do for engineering your career and the challenges of the year ahead. Make these fleeting moments yours while on your path to excellence in self-renewal and self-innovation. In Samuel Florman’sThe Civilized Engineer, a seminal treatise on enhancing engineers’ and the public’s...
November 9, 2009 - 07:57
InSuperfreakonomics, Stephen Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s best-selling sequel to their 2005 hitFreakonomics, they write of an individual “so polymathic as to make an everyday polymath tremble with shame.” That individual is Nathan Myhrvold, former Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft who is a scientist, award-winning photographer, rare-book aficionado, and dinosaur bone collector, among other things. Myhrvold went to college at age fourteen and then continued on with multiple bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in physics and mathematics, doing a little research in cosmology with Stephen...
October 19, 2009 - 07:55
When I first met Dr. Robert Greer, he was going through a combination of spreadsheets and table-sized CAD drawings with the meticulousness of an archaeologist on a work site, hidden behind a pillar of manila folders and three-inch binders. I had shown up in his office as a new hire engineer, looking for help to get on the path of becoming an EIT. He and I had worked on similar manufacturing projects together, and I had always found his insights fascinating. When I mentioned my EIT aspirations to him, a wry smile crept through his Santa beard and he proceeded to give me one of many...
September 25, 2009 - 09:24
I am getting good at being blank, Staring at all the zeroes in the air. - Billy Collins Former Poet Laureate of the United States Collins’s “zeroes” are less about currency than they are about being current or rather, motivating oneself to avoid getting mired in a stagnant present. As the professional world rounds the bend on the last fiscal quarter of 2009, Microsoft Word documents everywhere are being fired up to summarize the year end’s professional accomplishments. Annual reviews are being formatted, costs (bonus points if they’re cost-savings) are reported, everyone’s ideas for...
September 9, 2009 - 07:55
The week here usually begins with a vase of freshly cut flowers. Each time I check into this hotel in China’s Guangdong Province, there’s always a vase of stargazer lilies waiting by the bath, compliments of the housekeeping staff. They’re not lilies yet, mind you, just buds. These buds are anticipating their forthcoming lives as flowers much in the same way I am anticipating what the markup on my laundry bill will be this week. Each day as I see the buds a little more opened, I know I am one day closer to finishing out the week’s project work: a floral Gantt chart of sorts....
August 31, 2009 - 09:02
My suitcase measures 30” x 24” x 12”. When living out of a duffel bag for six weeks at a time in Asia and Europe, certain basic engineering principles such as void volume begin to have particular resonance when you’re just 0.5 kg away from being rewarded with an overweight luggage charge. When I was invited to write the Young Engineer blog for the NSPE, I was thrilled at the chance to wax poetic (or at the very least, blog poetic) about the engineering life, locally and globally, from a Young Engineer’s perspective. Let’s start with a handshake. My name is Austin S. Lin...

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