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Creative Engineering Requires Versatility

As civilization grinds to a halt in North America and design engineering follows manufacturing to Asia, the remnant of inventive engineers left on the continent must adapt to the times to survive. This requires a renewed emphasis on one of the traits found in engineers: versatility. When some of us went through engineering school in the ‘60s and ‘70s, there was an emphasis in some schools on providing a general engineering education for electrical engineers. This was the case at Oregon State University, one of the Beaver-league schools that includes MIT, Cal Tech and any others with the beaver as their mascot. While some might suggest that the OSU E.E. faculty at that time did not know enough electronics to teach the subject-matter and needed the distractions of other forms of engineering to cover over this embarrassing fact, a different hypothesis seems more plausible. Instead of limiting the skill-set of the E.E. only to phenomena involving electrons wandering amidst atomic nuclei, OSU Beavers were educated for the wider reality that included mechanical, civil, and chemical engineering.

Conceptual Adaptation

This wider scope of training is now paying off well for electronics engineers who find diminishing opportunity in circuit design. Although electronics engineering draws its physical principles primarily from electricity and magnetism, a branch of physics, there is, however, nothing about electronics that should constrain its practitioners to the physical sciences. Indeed, a good design engineer will have spent hours at the bench repairing prototype circuits, all the while puzzling over defects that necessitated the repairs.

Furthermore, as electronic systems have grown in complexity, with decades more transistors in a typical system nowadays than in the ‘60s or ‘70s, electronics engineers have grown in their adjustment to this increasing complexity to where a competent E.E. is equipped to take on problems of a similar nature: that of the repair of complex systems in general. Therefore, it is not surprising to find these innate abilities applied to new applications of a larger scope. An example is illustrated pictorially below, that of repair involving the replacement of a biomechanical fluidic component.

A creative engineer, furthermore, is likely to also recognize conceptual correspondences between seemingly unrelated things such as tropical fruit and those self-same components. While some of these novel juxtapositions of heretofore unrelated things might seem merely silly to duller minds, to creative engineers they can be the seeds of technological breakthroughs, the grist in the mill of inventive musings. Until the repair of biological organisms through component replacement is no longer practiced, engineers should find plentiful work in this area for the foreseeable future, and without the irritating and distractive politics of prominent medical organizations and drug manufacturers who spend more time in Washington lobbying against dietary supplements than in seeking new medical ideas and practices. The field is ripe for the mass intrusion of practicing engineers.

The astute reader will have noticed in the picture that the engineer has had to replace a faulty heart because it was obtained through the illegal practice of the organ supply industry, of “harvesting” organs. These organs are in demand among the sedentary population of North America, plagued nowadays with diabesity related to heart and kidney failures, and who offer a thriving market for such components. David Rockefeller, for instance, who died recently at age 101 years, was on his seventh heart and third kidney.

A good engineer should be able to recognize the difference in characteristics between an ordinary soursop and a so-called Chinese soursop (or releño ), not to be confused with the “Chinese gooseberry”, otherwise renamed the kiwi fruit, and unsuitable for organ transplant. In contrast to the Chinese soursop, the ordinary soursop (guyabana ), shown at the upper-right below, is green, not yellow, in appearance and has the firmer, healthier consistency of a good heart.

The tan sapodilla is shown in the lower-left, next to the flaming red pitaya, a relative of the prickly pear. Both are potential candidates for replacement technology, though neither has as yet been given much consideration by traditional medical practitioners. (Dissected macrotomes of the respective entities are shown next to them on the surgeon’s platter.) The more familiar papaya (cut in half, with retained caviar) and apple-banana are included as reference for temperate-zone engineers and others unfamiliar with the technology, or with carambola (starfruit), mangos (reddish, heart-shaped device on right), tamarinds (stringy brown items at bottom, suitable for pancreas replacement), or kinep (round and green, right of tamarinds), gall bladder look-alikes. These and other prospective novelties might be seen on the surgeon’s table in future years as demand for replacement devices exceeds the supply.

Cultural Adaptation

The versatile engineer must also maintain a cross-cultural flexibility. While it has been common to find those native to Europe, Asia, and India among American and Canadian engineering groups, the trend has shifted nowadays to the inclusion of Mesopotamian culture, from the various oil-rich countries of the Middle East. This is particularly relevant nowadays, for according to the central government of America and its mainstream media, the U.S. is bedeviled by numerous Mideasterners intent upon destroying the country. This being unequivocally the case, it should be possible therefore to commonly observe them mingling among the American people. Engineering would be no exception.

To more fully accommodate the cultural diversity that this brings to the engineering environment, engineering needs some bold leaders to exhibit these values by their example. One is shown below. The similarity in appearance of this politically-correct engineer and the previous engineering surgeon is purely coincidental, as much as the 9/11 event was to the record stock shorting of certain airlines involved in it a few days beforehand.

It should therefore be expected that as cultural diversity spreads throughout American engineering, leading electronics suppliers will catch on and exploit it, by expanding their product offerings to include the above authentic Arab vesture from Qatar. The shirt and pants, however, are traditional American garments, imported from China.

Acknowledgements:

Thanks to the now-historic Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL for the “greens”, acquired by an anonymous surgical resident and USAF Flight Surgeon closely related to the author. Thanks also to the same anonymous surgical oncologist’s son, also an electronics engineer, who acquired the Arab garb from Qatar while in the U.S. Air Force. The author thanks his wife for the presentation of tropical fruit on our veranda table in Belize, Central America. The author has no one to thank but himself for disclosing his identity to the NSA in the above photographs. Neither Edward Snowden nor one-time local Belizean celebrity, John McAfee, were required to leak them.

Closing Comments:

Some of the above piece is not terribly humorous, such as organ harvesting, dysfunctional trends in the health industry, Middle East war and terrorism, the 9/11 cover-up, the social conflicts caused by political correctness, and especially the lack of really good tropical fruit in the temperate regions. What is so useful about humor is that it is a genre of literature in which the unspeakable can be written – as long as it is not supposed to be taken seriously! It is up to you as to how you take it. My purpose is to bring attention (albeit in a lighter context) to certain features of our quickly-changing engineering landscape before returning to the more pedestrian topics of electronic circuit design.

3 comments on “Creative Engineering Requires Versatility

  1. Victor Lorenzo
    April 8, 2017

    Hi Dennis,

    The Tropic is full of challenges for engineers, and of course poses many versatility requirements for almost anyone, being an engineer or not. Hummidity varies so much, from high to very high to even higher… that it makes a lot of sense to think seeriously about “tropicalization” when designing devices to be operated in the Tropic.

    Now, if you let me, I can see in your table one tropical fruit that makes my thoughts fly to my parent's house in my beloved Cuba, you call it “guyabana”. We know it as “guanábana”, this name was supposedly given by the original inhabitants of our island [now extint thanks to those beautifull and peaceful and human life lover persons that were the spanish conquerors].

    We have two more fruits in our “patio” that are similar to the guanábana , one is the “anón” and the other is the “chirimoya”. They have very different taste and the anón is the one I like the most.

    This is the anón:

    And this is the chirimoya:

    Many people in Europe think they are all the same…but they are to me as identical as MOSFETs and BJTs are.

    Thanks for your writings, I enjoy them very much.

  2. D Feucht
    April 9, 2017

    Victor,

    Muy verdad! I got it wrong; it is the ganabana. (I need to spend more time in Guatemala, soaking in Castellano Espaniol.)

    I have not seen the other two fruits in the market here. There seem to be an endless supply of new fruits or vegetables or vines (such as talawala vines, that grow on old cohune palms) that can be eaten or tea made from them.

    Guanabanas, or soursops as they are called in English, are extraordinarily tasty and are also a possible cancer cure, being researched in Germany. There are so many really good fruits down here that, for practical reasons (no engineering solutions yet!), are not exported to N. America, that they are but one of many subtle reasons for living in the tropics.

     

  3. michaelmaloney
    July 24, 2018

    It's nice to see a little break in all the seriousness and technical aspects of the website here and I'm very glad I stumbled upon your article today sir! I had me a good enough laugh and like you mentioned about the topics which were a little bit less humorous, I will spend the appropriate amount of time pondering about the implications and impact upon us as we work through all the other bits and pieces of things. Thanks again for sharing this piece of writing with us!

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