Last year I started this list with lots of space flight issues, but when I made my list this year I started with aircraft technology, and then immediately shifted to maritime in item 2. It has been a strange year and that is why I ended my list with a repeat and enlargement of item 8 on my 2015 list; devastating ignorance.
I wonder why I ended up having 13 items this year.
In a prior blog I commented on ignorance and how easy it is to jump to incorrect solutions. In that blog I made reference to Boyan Slat and his Ted Lecture as an example of an incredibly awful Ted lecture.
In his lecture Boyan Slat proposes a method for removing plastic trash from oceans. The lecture is presented by an enthusiastic young man in front of a basically ignorant audience. With universal approval he makes a moving appeal for doing something we all want to do: Save our environment.
A friend sent me link to this lecture knowing that I am one of those seaweed hugging engineers and hoping that I would enjoy this young man’s resolve. Instead I was horrified.
This story will makes two important points about technical reasoning that in the heat of combat, disasters, disputes, commerce, parenting or politics often get overlooked.
1.If your starting data is flawed, the rest of your argument becomes inherently flawed
2.Just because one thing looks like the other, it does not mean that they are comparable.
The problem is that it is so easy to hide these issues in clever packaging. Only when somebody carefully analyzes the argument and looks at the underlying data, will it become apparent that it is fatally flawed.
The example I will use is a TED lecture by Malcolm Gladwell. Malcolm Gladwell is the author of "Blink, the Power of Thinking without Thinking" and other popular observational works and TED is an organization that organizes symposia where smart people listen to other smart people who discuss unusual discoveries or insights. A TED lecture is about 15 minutes and there are some truly incredibly useful lectures such as the Hans Rosling lectures, but not all TED lectures rise to that level.
So that is the setting; here is the story..... read more »
In March of 2014, I posted a blog where I expressed my frustration at a lack of simple and affordable NAME programs. This led to a very lengthy SNAME Linkedin discussion, which now, sadly, seems to have evaporated in the mists of time. Regardless, the discussion was not in vain, because it connected a large number of enthusiasts and led to the start of a SNAME T&R effort which we have called Project 114.
The project lead is Steven Hollister, who is now developing a quite remarkable NAME computing backbone.
As a naval architect and marine engineer I have slowly drifted into a bizarre conundrum that actually may be an industry wide problem that is ripe for an industry wide solution.
What I am talking about is a loss of all those really great NAME engineering computer programs that were developed in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Yes, today we have much fancier NAME computer packages that are heavily integrated, but, in actual fact, they only serve a small market and have completely left out those engineers and designers (and hobbyists, and university students and even high schoolers) who do not sit in front of a particular computer design package all day, but who do want to get a relatively fast answer to a particular problem. read more »
We all like to kid about acronym soup, and it is pretty difficult to keep up with all the new ones. I remember that as a young engineer I was always hesitant to ask in public, because I was afraid that asking the question would prove my ignorance.
Somewhere in my career I crossed that bar and now when somebody uses an acronym that I don't know (well, at my age, it generally is an acronym I can't remember), I no longer worry about admitting my ignorance and simply ask what it means. Occasionally I even emerge victoriously without trying when the acronym dropper cannot tell me what it means.
Martin & Ottaway has been deeply involved in a specific acronym progression that has roiled the maritime industry for a while now. It began in the 1990's with QMS, it begat TQM, then it begat ISM, which begat SMS, which begat STCW, which begat ISPS, which begat ECP and dozens of derivative acronym offshoots. And to deal with all of it, the industry developed the corporate HQSE department and Martin & Ottaway functions as an HQSE consultant. HQSE stands for Health, Quality, Safety and Environmental. At first glance, this acronym is reasonably inclusive of the systems that a well run shipping company needs to have in place to satisfy the demands that are not directly related to the company's income producing model. We like to call them "for the public" systems, because they allow a company to function as a responsible world citizen (and more importantly, based on our experience, they actually add to the corporate bottom line).
But the acronym is not complete and misses a number of important concepts.
I was struggling with this when writing a paper about recent HQSE system issues that I will be presenting at the SNAME annual meeting on October 26. That paper shows that training systems need to be an integral component of HQSE systems. This led me to wonder about how to introduce the "T" for training into HQSE.
My wife, Anne, has two Aunt Pats. That becomes confusing, and many years ago I dubbed one of them Crazy Aunt Pat. Not because she is crazy, but simply because she is a smart, bold person who is afraid of nothing and I needed a way to distinguish her from the other who is equally wonderful. She lives in Oregon, but is a regular visitor to the East Coast and she has driven cross country many a time starting just after WWII and has done it on her own into her eighties.
My daughter just became a freshman at University of Washington, and my wife and I decided to take the time to drive her there to allow us to finally have our first cross country road trip.
Anne calls Crazy Aunt Pat to tell her we are West Coast bound and asked our family cross country expert for good stopping points along the way. Crazy Aunt Pat said: “There is one stop that really stands out. It is a house in Spring Green, Wisconsin, I cannot think of the name right now, but it is the town where Frank Lloyd Wright's house is. It is a four hour stop to see it all, but make sure you do not miss it.”