Earlier in the week, I posted photos of engineering workspaces of the late Jim Williams (Linear Technology) and Bob Pease (National Semiconductor). Seeing those photos prompted me to ask, "What about yours?" How messy are there and, ergo, how much of a genius are you, really?
The photos are rolling in, and we're on the hunt for more!. We'll collect as many as we can as they come in in the coming days, and then we'll put the photos to a vote: Whose workstation shouts most loudly: "genius."
Check them out:
Christopher Nelson, Ft. Wayne, IN
I had to ask: Chris, what's up with the chair?? I actually don't remember how it got there. I am 6'4" and destroyed the first few chairs when I came to work so it is probably one of those. Currently, part of what I do help design computers for audio professionals. This area is a R&D, testing and repair area.
I've got a cool alternative to the trackball that doesn't need any desk space, it works on the surface of my laptop. Now I can pile the paperwork right up to the edge! See www.futuremouse.com
I don't have a workbench anymore, but still have a messy desk, I'm afraid.
This is the problem with messy desks. If you work with a lot of hardware and prototyping, you have a lot stuff needed to do your work. Some of my larger prototype projects looked like I had dumped pots of spaghetti on several desks. Then add on to that test equipment, meters, parts, tools, and computers then you have what seems a cacophony of chaos. Surfing this undulating wave of disparate hardware is likely an engineer who is probably the only one in the company that fully understands that it is not chaos in their workspace but progress. Then enters the manager who job is to make everything follow “the plan”, reduce costs, systemize, “motivate” the workforce, and meet deadlines. In other words minimize chaos and promote order. When a manager sees what the engineer is doing, the manager skin crawls and seeks to help the engineer improve his productivity by introducing his version of order. To engineers, this is called stress. Managers look at engineers as hoarders and want them to get rid of the “junk” from previous projects. Then the same manager complains that following projects are continually delayed because the engineer keeps ordering and waiting for parts. The manager wants the engineer to clean up their work area to look pretty for customers who tour the area. Then the same manager complains that the engineer is wasting too much time searching for stored equipment and setting up projects. Then the manager makes everybody’s work space the same size then wonders why the hardware engineer has a rat’s nest of several projects on a single desk unlike the cooperative software engineers who can manage several programs on their computers just like the managers. When I had several desks and a larger room, my productivity increased. There are several other ways managers try to help engineers and then wonder why the engineer has a failure to thrive.
Yeah, trackballs are great, for that reason and also the reduced grope-around factor. But be sure to get a nice quiet one - last time I used a trackball at work, given my financial priorities and Scottish ancestry, it was a cheap one that made noise. Everyone else said it sounded like I was playing video games.
I would love to have the top manager at my last employer be made to look at these desks and then be shown how productive and creative the engineers were. He was one of those types who had outlines on the desk for where the phone and pad should be, and he valued neat far above organized. The same mind believed that all engineering talent was equal. Need I say more?
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.