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John Houbolt's Passing Has Lessons for All Engineers

5/19/2014 12:30 PM EDT
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MeasurementBlues
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Part of the LEM
MeasurementBlues   5/28/2014 12:09:51 PM
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My father worked for a compan ycalled Jan Hardware in the 1960s. His company made the large knobs all over the LEM instrument panels. They had a slip-clutch mechanism so the know would keep turning when it reached the end of its travel. It solved the problem of when astronauts would strip the knob's inside whiel wearing heavy gloves.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bd/Interior_of_Apollo_15_lunar_module_(prior_to_launch).jpg

 

Tiger Joe
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Houbolt's legacy forgotten?
Tiger Joe   5/24/2014 4:16:46 PM
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There's no way to know how many lives Houbolt's solution would have saved, by trumping the one that was not likely to work.

Unfortunately there are two well-documented cases that show NASA hasn't always had people like Houbolt in their ranks :  Challenger and Columbia.

Interesting, I have studied each of these and I don't recall the name Houbolt.  Did I miss anything?  I'm hoping it's just my memory.

jlinstrom
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Praise and Lessons
jlinstrom   5/23/2014 2:39:36 PM
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Along with congrats for his mind and bravery and condolences for John Houbolt's passing, we can take away some engineering thoughts, too.

A big problem is a lot of little problems.

Each solution has its own needs and its dunnage - e.g. photos need to be as clear as possible, but they don't need colloidal plates and wet baths, or developing fluids, or sheet film or wires or even lenses. 

Don't own more of a solution than you need to.

Use the engine, burn the crates, eat the freight horses.

The lander module only had to support itself and the recovery module for One Landing! Look at how much simpler both up- and down stream tasks become.

larussell
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From Earth to the Moon
larussell   5/23/2014 2:38:15 PM
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Houbolt's story is portrayed very nicely in the HBO miniseries "From Earth to the Moon."

Susan Rambo
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Re: John Houbolt's Passing...
Susan Rambo   5/22/2014 9:21:30 AM
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No doubt, Houbolt is a hero and a great role model.

Susan Rambo
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Re: John Houbolt's Passing...
Susan Rambo   5/22/2014 9:20:02 AM
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There are worse things than getting fired, if that's the big fear here, Martin. John Houbolt was a public servant doing his job. Maybe not doing your job is worst than getting fired. It depends on your personal integrity and what you are willing to live with.

Measurement.Blues
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Re: It doesn't matter if your right these days
Measurement.Blues   5/22/2014 9:17:41 AM
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I'd say it depends on the boss. Those that have confidence in themselves will help you push ideas they think will work up the chain, even carry it for you. The insecure ones will eather shoort your ideas down because they see you as a threat of will claim the idea as thier own. It's called politics.

You can try going over your bosses head or even pushing your idea in a public forum having your idea critisized by your boss as not preferred.  That is a short road to the end of your job these days.  It does not matter if you are right.

 

Bill_Jaffa
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Re: It doesn't matter if your right these days
Bill_Jaffa   5/22/2014 8:12:08 AM
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Of course, it helps if there is a ladder or org chart in the first place--too many companies are in such constant internal turmoil/churn that you can't figure out who the level above actually is, iwth job titles/functions that obscure rather than define--it's especially the case for the one(s) above the one right above you.

MeasurementBlues
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Re: It doesn't matter if your right these days
MeasurementBlues   5/21/2014 10:52:24 PM
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I once worked for a manager who beleived to go up the ladder as much as you hav eto if you think you're right. That'swhat he did when we needed equipment in the lab.

Later, I worked for a company that would give you once chance and if your idea wasn't immediately profitable, well.

MeasurementBlues
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Re: John Houbolt's Passing...
MeasurementBlues   5/21/2014 10:50:09 PM
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@Susan,

 

But if you've already left your corporate job to staart a company you already made the decision to leave. You can;t get fired for that.

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