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MeasurementBlues
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What if you're wrong?
MeasurementBlues   5/19/2014 12:38:19 PM
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Houbolt was right, but what if he was wrong and NASA went ahead with his plan?

Would you go over your boss' head? If you do, you'd better be right. If you are right, would the boss take the credit and not recognize you?

Bill_Jaffa
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Re: What if you're wrong?
Bill_Jaffa   5/19/2014 2:23:55 PM
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What's also amazing is how what was once almost unthinkable--rendevous in Earth orbit, Moon orbit, and even Mars Orbit--now has become routine, to the point where the public is jaded and blase about it.

It's another example of how when you perform these "miracles", you end up making your work seem simple and trivial, and thus it is not appreciated. No good deed goes unpunished, as they say, and beware the law of unintended consequences of your accomplishments.

_hm
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Re: What if you're wrong?
_hm   5/19/2014 5:11:23 PM
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Very good work both by John and also by Bill.

Bert22306
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Re: What if you're wrong?
Bert22306   5/19/2014 5:28:18 PM
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When I hear the term "team player" being thrown about, I've long since come to think "milquetoast," worker bee, company man. In other words, pejorative terms.

Of course, anyone who does not "go along to play along" had better be right, at least most of the time. The problem is self-regulating. Anyone who has a mind and speaks it, if he isn't right overwhelmingly often, will not remain employed very long.

joberg775
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Re: What if you're wrong?
joberg775   5/20/2014 1:04:10 PM
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I'm so glad to see this story. Orbital rendezvous has been my professional specializatiom for almost 50 years, and Houbolt my hero. Here;s something I wrote:

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/392/1

 

www.jamesoberg.com

 

 

MeasurementBlues
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Re: What if you're wrong?
MeasurementBlues   5/20/2014 1:25:19 PM
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James joberg775,

Thanks for the link. I now know more about Houbolt.

Unless today's space experts learn to emulate Houbolt's vision, courage, and soft-spoken stubbornness, the grandiose "Vision for Space Exploration" plans for resuming human flight beyond low Earth orbit may fail to be realized.

 

Bill_Jaffa
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Re: What if you're wrong?
Bill_Jaffa   5/20/2014 3:47:23 PM
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Very nice and well-written piece, thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Great_White_North
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It doesn't matter if your right these days
Great_White_North   5/20/2014 6:20:29 PM
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The truly sad thing is that most organizations (eveyone I have seen or heard about) don't care if your right these days.  Sure being wrong will get you in trouble because most failures need a scape goat.


Being correct is typically the worst option if you try and push your ideas against resistance.  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.

 

The path to success is to suggest the correct awnser and if those in charge dont claim credit for your ideas then the idea dies a quite death.  That is a big reason why North American companies are such lame ineffective places to work now a days.

Hats off to NASA for being so close to a meritocracy that you could go 6 levels above you on the org chart and keep your job....and have the company accept your solution.  Not much of that going on around here any more.

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.

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.

Measurement.Blues
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CEO
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.

 

docdivakar
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Re: John Houbolt's Passing...
docdivakar   5/20/2014 5:16:51 PM
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It is refreshing to read about John Houbolt, thank you. Without the aid of computers that we take for granted (and carry one in our pockets that is much more powerful that Apollo's on-board ones!), he solved tough problems with hard-core engineering knowledge, analysis and hand calculations. It is a tragedy that we are losing the generation of these real engineers with nary a few to replace them.

MP Divakar

Susan Rambo
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Re: John Houbolt's Passing...
Susan Rambo   5/21/2014 1:13:23 PM
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I'm sure there are engineers today who are just as willing to risk their careers for a solution they think is right. (We call them startups.)  I would also like to compliment his choice of tie the in photograph on first page.

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.

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.

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.

jimfordbroadcom
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Another hero...
jimfordbroadcom   5/21/2014 5:28:52 PM
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to inspire those of us swimming against the stream.  Thank you!

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."

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.

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.

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

 



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