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'[OT]: What makes an engineer'
2001\04\12@032827 by Intellicorp001

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Hi All,

 I've been to University & College in the UK (actually I've been to 2
Universitys & 6 Colleges but thats another story).

 What I found was that College prepared you for a job & University prepared
you for research or academia. Hence the University types not knowing their
arses from their elbows when first unleashed on the world.

 I personally preferred the College approach as any University Science
degree invariably degenerates into the most abstract mathematics imaginable.
I passed 2nd year maths at the fourth attempt which tells you how I feel
about math !

       Cheers,

       Wilson Logan.


http://www.wilsonlogan.com

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2001\04\13@040732 by D Lloyd

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Hi,

I thought the math was quite good, but then again I pissed it. Having said
that, you are correct in it being abstract and I think it would have been
better to have been exposed to some more applied material; although I know
about z transforms, laplace fourier and avg. > 90% in it, ask me to apply
it to some problem and I would be scratching my head for a while, believe
me.

I agree about your other points, too. I had a conversation with a bloke in
the lab, last week, who was doing his final year project.
He was moaning that his board only worked now and again. I asked him if he
had checked the joints, as one might be dry.

He: "I know those joints are good - I soldered them myself"
Me : "Did you check them, though?"
He : "I don't need to....they have been soldered"

End of conversation.

University rarely teaches you the practical side and it shows.

Dan






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Hi All,

 I've been to University & College in the UK (actually I've been to 2
Universitys & 6 Colleges but thats another story).

 What I found was that College prepared you for a job & University
prepared
you for research or academia. Hence the University types not knowing their
arses from their elbows when first unleashed on the world.

 I personally preferred the College approach as any University Science
degree invariably degenerates into the most abstract mathematics
imaginable.
I passed 2nd year maths at the fourth attempt which tells you how I feel
about math !

       Cheers,

       Wilson Logan.


http://www.wilsonlogan.com

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2001\04\13@074817 by Jinx

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> He: "I know those joints are good - I soldered them myself"
> Me : "Did you check them, though?"
> He : "I don't need to....they have been soldered"
>
> End of conversation.
>
> University rarely teaches you the practical side and it shows.
>
> Dan

You worry about solder joints. I did my BSc (Chem/Chem Eng)
at a Tech Institute and was perfectly happy as a hands-on tech
in a resin lab. Our bosses were varsity types who were an
absolute menace in the lab. It was stocked with ethers, volatile
monomers, acids, and skin-penetrating isocyanates. The
bosses would often leave the office for "let's have a go at that
session". Apart from not knowing one end of a test-tube from the
other, the instruction "cook a batch of low viscosity polyurethane"
was somehow heard by them as "make a 6 inch Superball". And
if I had a dollar for every time I had to wander around turning off
all the heating mantles after their "fun day in the lab".........

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2001\04\13@093019 by Chris Carr

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> > University rarely teaches you the practical side and it shows.
> >
> Apart from not knowing one end of a test-tube from the
> other,

Or which end of a Soldering Iron to get hold of. I kid you not.
I spent days fighting off the Heath & Safety Gestapo because a
3rd year student burnt his hand grabbing the hot end of a Soldering Iron.

Yes he had designed, built and tested circuits - using a computer. That last
bit of information I failed to acquire before the incident, He had never
actually built a circuit using real components, but he had seen it done
once.

The University where this student came from received a forthright diatribe
expressing my opinions regarding their teaching methods. They did include
some practical after that, then we devised a circuit specification for
students to design and build which we knew worked perfectly on the computer
but would never work on the breadboard without tweaking.

For some reason the supply of students gaining industrial experience seemed
to dry up after 2 years.

Chris Carr

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2001\04\13@105324 by Gareth Bennett

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The BEST engineers come from FIELD Technicians!  :)

____________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________
         Gareth Bennett      EraseMEgarethbspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTes.co.nz
         Systems LMR
         Otago/Southland Region
         New Zealand
{Original Message removed}

2001\04\13@111536 by D Lloyd

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Hi,

Cheers!
I used to be a field techie, crawling around in stinking feed mills
installing and fixing god-knows-what :-)

Dan




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The BEST engineers come from FIELD Technicians!  :)

____________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________
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         New Zealand
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2001\04\13@115244 by Dan Michaels

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D Lloyd wrote:

>
>He: "I know those joints are good - I soldered them myself"
>Me : "Did you check them, though?"
>He : "I don't need to....they have been soldered"
>
>End of conversation.
>
>University rarely teaches you the practical side and it shows.


What you are describing here is every employer's "dream" employee.
Some people are their own worst enemy, and even our wonderous
and glorious educational institutions cannot do much about that.

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2001\04\14@013030 by Chris Cox

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Perhaps my two cents worth of inexperience may help a student...

 When I got out of the service in '65, my first job was with Western
Union in Boston. They assigned me to a bench to modify some old
(EVERYTHING in WU was old, furniture from 20's and 30's, ancient tube
equipment, etc.) tube device I forget the function of. I had almost no
soldering experience. They had these huge American Beauty soldering
irons with hot dog size barrels and pencil size tips. The wiring ranged
from 22 to 10 gauge stranded and conditions were VERY jammed and crowded
in the box. I had placed my iron in it's tip cradle and was looking in
the box and trying to hold a 10 gauge piece, with a mind of it's own, in
a very tight spot. Now the American Beauties were very old and had the
ancient heavy cloth covered cord plugged into a strip on the back of the
bench. The cord had slipped the iron back a little. While looking in the
box I reached for the iron and grabbed the barrel full grip, all fingers
and palm firmly wrapped. You didn't hold these irons like a pencil, you
held them like a baseball bat.

 The Beatles have a song titled "A Minute is a Very Long Time". It's
very clever and lasts exactly one minute.

Let me talk to the students for a couple of hours explaining EXACTLY
how long 3/4 of a second reaction time is...

I was lucky. There was lots of white skin and some very bad, almost
crippling blisters, but no third degree. For an hour or two after,
everyone passing through the shop wanted to know what that weird smell
was.

 Hope this helps someone, sigh...

Chris Cox

Chris Carr wrote:
{Quote hidden}

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2001\04\14@022525 by Nigel Goodwin

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In message <TakeThisOuT3AD7DE4D.63AD1FF0EraseMEspamspam_OUTbellsouth.net>, Chris Cox
<RemoveMEcvhcoxspamTakeThisOuTBELLSOUTH.NET> writes
>  When I got out of the service in '65, my first job was with Western
>Union in Boston. They assigned me to a bench to modify some old
>(EVERYTHING in WU was old, furniture from 20's and 30's, ancient tube
>equipment, etc.) tube device I forget the function of. I had almost no
>soldering experience. They had these huge American Beauty soldering
>irons with hot dog size barrels and pencil size tips. The wiring ranged
>from 22 to 10 gauge stranded and conditions were VERY jammed and crowded
>in the box. I had placed my iron in it's tip cradle and was looking in
>the box and trying to hold a 10 gauge piece, with a mind of it's own, in
>a very tight spot. Now the American Beauties were very old and had the
>ancient heavy cloth covered cord plugged into a strip on the back of the
>bench. The cord had slipped the iron back a little. While looking in the
>box I reached for the iron and grabbed the barrel full grip, all fingers
>and palm firmly wrapped. You didn't hold these irons like a pencil, you
>held them like a baseball bat.

It's a normal reaction to try and catch something if you drop it, after
a few years you lose this reaction when you drop a soldering iron :-).
--

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       /--------------------------------------------------------------\
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       | Lower Pilsley   | Web Page : http://www.lpilsley.co.uk       |
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2001\04\14@035819 by Bill Westfield

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It's a normal reaction to try and catch something if you drop it, after
   a few years you lose this reaction when you drop a soldering iron :-).

I've heard that suggested as a test for the level of practical experience
level of interview candidates - knock a soldering iron off the table...

OTOH, cooks develop similar non-reflexes.  None of knives, cleavers, or
hot things from the pan are "to be caught."  In general: dodge !

OTTH, have you ever watched or seen the work of a full-time professional
rework technician (even those whom apparently lack any ambition toward
being an engineer)?  Amazing stuff...

You can also have a lot of fun if you take some (say) networking software
experts (say, BGP, Novell, and IP Multicast authors) and throw them in a
room with some actual routers, DSUs, and CABLES.  I had a wonderful time
watching a non-working T1-connection get debugged at half-a-dozen different
levels at a cisco Networkers meeting a few years back...

BillW

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2001\04\14@052536 by mike

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On Sat, 14 Apr 2001 02:49:20 +1200, you wrote:

>The BEST engineers come from FIELD Technicians!  :)
..or people who have always loved taking things apart, and have enough
perseverance to put them back together with a minimum of parts left
over.  
>____________________________________________________________________________
>________________________________________________________
>          Gareth Bennett      EraseMEgarethbspames.co.nz
>          Systems LMR
>          Otago/Southland Region
>          New Zealand
>{Original Message removed}

2001\04\14@113448 by Herbert Graf

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{Quote hidden}

       I agree with that one! Now I just watch WHERE it falls, unfortunately I've
started doing that with other stuff... :( TTYL

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2001\04\14@115201 by Chris Cox

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Read carefully. I didn't drop it. I was looking in the box and reached
for it blindly while trying to keep a recalcitrant 10 gauge wire in
place. If the bulky power cord had NOT shifted the iron I still would
have gotten my thumb and forefinger around the barrel. To catch
something that's falling is instinctive, and perhaps forgivable. To
grope for the iron handle from memory was plain stupid.

 As I remember the worst burn was where the thumb joins the palm at the
crease. No calluses...

Chris Cox

Herbert Graf wrote:
>
> > {Original Message removed}

2001\04\15@051156 by spam

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Back in the 80'es I tutored at the Technical University of
Copenhagen.

We started out on punched hole cards. Nobody had experience
from home. Then the Nascom I, the Commodore VIC etc arrived.
People began programming at home. What great times - interest
and skills right from the beginning. Then RAM passed the 4K
barrier and games became possible. From one semester to the
next - no skills at all. But all very comfortable with the screen and
the keyboard.
I had a guy type in a 200 lines program at the login prompt.
Vigorously ignoring all the error messages and the alternating user
name/password/ new login screen.
He was so pissed off when it would not run afterwards.
I guess now they do COM and CORBA and ODBC and Java but
have no clue what goes on in the belly of the beast.

I don't think the definition of Engineer lasts for more than a year or
so. But I do recognize the personality.

Last week I was back at TUD. A guy in too short brown pants is
standing next to his car, ready to perform the ritual with the Keyfob.
My car was standing next to his, and I was coming down the stairs
from the library.

I told my companion (also an engineer) to pay attention  - and at
the exactly right time I pressed my keyfob so that my car opened
at the same time.

Do I really need to tell the rest of the story ??

I DID notice that the girls had become prettier. When I studied
there, the theory was that the girls came from the farms, way out
on the west coast of Denmark, where the farms are very far apart.
A girl getting into her mature age, ready to marry, would wear her
best clothes and go stand by the road, waiting for her prince. When
the color had rained out of the third set of clothes she would join
TUD.

Kent

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2001\04\16@145517 by Steve Nordhauser

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As part of my formative years, I learned the soldering iron orientation
the hard way.  I was working my way through school as a pinball machine
repairman (mostly the old electro-mechancials but a few with 6800 uP in
them).  Anyway, the playfield is raised like the hood of a car, I'm on a stool
half-way into the machine following wiring diagrams through the timing motor
contacts while my pointy haired boss is yammering away in my ear.  I found
the loose wire, reached up for the iron and ....sssssssssss.  I dropped the
iron, he looked at me and said maybe he should leave me alone now.  (2 minutes
earlier would have been my preference).  But y'know, the lesson stuck.  I
will NEVER forget which end of a soldering iron to grab.  And I'm sure all
of that hands on work has helped me over the years.  Connectors should have
cable orientations marked (someone will try to reverse them), you should be
able to dissassemble without removing everything, beware of mechanical
contacts, for they will bite your reliability.  Don't trust soldering, especially on
a prototype.  A good silkscreen will save 10x the time to put the details on it.
(label test points, voltages)

--
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Director of New Product Development
Imaging Systems
IEM Corp.
60 Fourth Ave.
Albany, NY 12202-1924
digitalSTOPspamspamspam_OUTnycap.rr.com  http://www.iem.net
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2001\04\16@163707 by Quentin

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Reading the posts on catching soldering irons made me wonder how many
people have been at this point:
Soldering two things with short leads together and holding it with your
fingers while doing so. You grit your teeth and wonder at that moment if
your pain threshold is going to give before the solder cools and set.

And with that burned finger in your mouth you stand back and watch your
handy work, satisfied and promising yourself next time you will use a
pair of pliers. Yet, a few weeks down the line you do the same thing.

Makes me think of certain sexual preferences some people have involving
leather and whips..........

Quentin

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2001\04\17@192954 by Tony Nixon

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Nigel Goodwin wrote:

> It's a normal reaction to try and catch something if you drop it, after
> a few years you lose this reaction when you drop a soldering iron :-).


I was siting down soldering in bare feet one day (never again) and
dropped a soldering iron. The barrel landed right between my toes. It's
one trick I won't try again.

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2001\04\17@211431 by Dan Michaels

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Tony Nixon wrote:
>Nigel Goodwin wrote:
>
>> It's a normal reaction to try and catch something if you drop it, after
>> a few years you lose this reaction when you drop a soldering iron :-).
>
>
>I was siting down soldering in bare feet one day (never again) and
>dropped a soldering iron. The barrel landed right between my toes. It's
>one trick I won't try again.


Didn't take my cat very long to learn where not to sit. Won't
even come into the room when I'm at the workbench. Who says you
can't train cats.

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2001\04\17@212311 by David VanHorn

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>
> >I was siting down soldering in bare feet one day (never again) and
> >dropped a soldering iron. The barrel landed right between my toes. It's
> >one trick I won't try again.

Never grab a falling soldering iron.
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2001\04\17@213341 by Gareth Bennett

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Never catch a capacitor which is thrown to you,
(An old trick done on the trainees!)

____________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________
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         New Zealand
{Original Message removed}

2001\04\17@223616 by Dale Botkin

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On Tue, 17 Apr 2001, Dan Michaels wrote:

> Didn't take my cat very long to learn where not to sit. Won't
> even come into the room when I'm at the workbench. Who says you
> can't train cats.

You can train 'em, but I prefer a steamroller...

No, seriously, I like cats.  Especially over toast, with a little
Hollandaise sauce.

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'[OT]: What makes an engineer'
2001\05\09@081828 by John Hallam
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On Mon, 16 Apr 2001, Quentin wrote:

> Reading the posts on catching soldering irons made me wonder how many
> people have been at this point:
> Soldering two things with short leads together and holding it with your
> fingers while doing so. You grit your teeth and wonder at that moment if
> your pain threshold is going to give before the solder cools and set.
>
> And with that burned finger in your mouth you stand back and watch your
> handy work, satisfied and promising yourself next time you will use a
> pair of pliers. Yet, a few weeks down the line you do the same thing.

       The problem with the pliers is that you need a whole hand to hold
them, whereas you can balance five or six components in one hand to solder
a junction (if you can stand the pain :-).  Unfortunately it generally
takes the other whole hand to hold the soldering iron, and using the
little finger on that side to manipulate the solder implies muscle control
that a yogi would envy!

       I used to regularly pick up the iron by the wrong end, soldering
circuit on my bedroom floor as a young teenager (didn't have a bench) but
I gave that up when PCBs became popular.  Nowadays I just get high on the
smoke from the flux...

       John.

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2001\05\09@085133 by Michael Rigby-Jones

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{Quote hidden}

That's what teeth are for! :o)  Nice tasty bit of lead never did anyone
harm.  Much.

>         I used to regularly pick up the iron by the wrong end, soldering
> circuit on my bedroom floor as a young teenager (didn't have a bench) but
> I gave that up when PCBs became popular.  Nowadays I just get high on the
> smoke from the flux...
>
>         John.
>
I have caught a falling soldering iron several itmes, the wonrg way.  It's
certainly a habbit you learn to kick pretty quickly, although back at home,
burns on the hand were far prefereable to my parents seeing burn marks on
the carpet!

This sounds a bit like a thread on a car maintenance group on usenet I
subscribe to:  What tools are in your toolbox?  Popular answers are:

"Hammers, both metric and imperial"
"Special torque limiting screwdrivers, where the handle turns but the shaft
dosen't"
"The wrong type of screwdriver (always loads of crosspoints if you want a
flat bladed driver!)"
"Semi-working multimeter, keeps you guessing"
"ratchetless ratchet, and I don't mean one of those cool modern ones"
etc...etc...

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2001\05\09@093350 by Robert

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Remindes me of the time I was doing some very finicky mod's to an Alinco
radio.  I used the soldering iron and some tweezers to remove a surface mount
resistor, put down the soldering iron and carefully placed the resistor in a
plastic baggy.  I then noticed an odd smell.  Unpleasant, like burning nylon.

I had put the soldering iron down on my knee, instead of into the
holder.......  Burnt nylon right on my leg.  Brand new rock climbing pants.  At
least now I won't worry about ripping them.

Rob

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