"Your 'inarguable facts' are nothing more than a matter of opinion." It's another typical (and very Spock-like) response an engineer might have. It comes from a story on coding standards for embedded systems.
That's the hardcore engineer I know. Good story. Once at a family get together, my father and uncle--both physicists--spent a long time studying the berry cobbler, trying to decide how to best cut it. They were there for quite a while, discussing it. Finally, an impatient son-in-law cracked, "How many physicists does it take to cut the cobbler?"
This radio talk just reminded me of my father (engineer) being hospitalized due to some operation in late 70's. He was staying at a hospital for more than a few weeks ( post op). I was in high school then; asked my father if there is anything I can bring him, thinking maybe he wants to read a funny novel, the latest weekly news magazine or he may want to taste some fruits. I was wrong. He said, "Yes, bring me 'Radio Engineering' magazine."
That's when I realized that I don't get my father at all. But of course, little did I know then I would be working for 'Electrical Engineering' Times in the future...
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Very true, Tom. Over and over, I am astounded and grateful when engineers explain complex technical matters in the simplest, lay terms. What we need as a reporter, though, is a courage to tell them stuff we didn't really understand. I learned that lesson when I first became a reporter. An experience colleague of mine once said: "Junko, if you don't ask questions, you'd never learn."
Junko: I hear you, and I get intimidated, too. But I've always found that engineers are natural born teachers, eager to help dimwits like me understand what they do. Many are surprisingly eloquent in the way they speak, reflecting their passion for what they do.
I see a lot of discussion about engineers "tearing things apart" to see how they work, but it's important to emphasize that, at heart, engineers are designers and builders - which are much more creative endeavors!
Yes, let me tell you that I am still terrified when I interview an engineer! I strive to do as much homework as possible before the interview (because really, I don't know much). The good thing is that many people I interview are A LOT MORE forgiving than my father ever was!
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
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