The Engineering Commons Podcast



Practical insights for the engineering crowd


  • Episode 139 — Estimation

    05/06/2018 Duração: 56min

    Adam, Brian, Carmen, and Jeff discuss the importance of accurately estimating time and budget as a practicing engineer. Brian frequently makes estimates as part of his professional duties. Detrimental effects of our anchoring bias are noted by Jeff. We reference lecture notes from Francine Warner of Kennesaw State University in this episode. In making estimates, … Continue reading Episode 139 — Estimation →

  • Episode 138 — Still Awkward

    18/12/2017 Duração: 43min

    We catch up with Sam Feller (who previously joined us in Episode 70), discussing his interests, projects, and latest entrepreneurial ventures. Having left industry to pursue an academic career, Jeff isn’t chomping at the bit to move back into the entrepreneurial world. Our guest for this episode is Sam Feller, a mechanical engineer who may … Continue reading Episode 138 — Still Awkward →

  • Episode 137 — Late Summer

    04/12/2017 Duração: 58min

    In an episode that was recorded in early October, Adam, Carmen, and Jeff reflect on their summer activities, and on plans for the remaining months of 2017. Carmen spent a lot of his summer traveling, both domestically and internationally. Although he spends a good deal of time dealing with marketing people, Carmen claims that he’s … Continue reading Episode 137 — Late Summer →

  • Episode 136 — Circle of Competence

    27/09/2017 Duração: 01h04min

    Adam, Brian, Carmen, and Jeff consider the boundaries of one’s own competence in this episode of The Engineering Commons. Competencies seem to be driven by past failures, notes Brian. For learning about “magical potions” developed with “unicorn science” (chemical engineering), Brian recommends the NurdRage channel on YouTube. Brian takes a cruel pleasure in seeing Mehdi … Continue reading Episode 136 — Circle of Competence →

  • Episode 135 — Target Audience

    14/08/2017 Duração: 59min

    In this episode of The Engineering Commons, the gang discusses tailoring a presentation to meet the needs and interests of your intended audience. Adam’s favorite form of communication is an old-fashioned face-to-face conversation. The data throughput of smoke signals is a bit too slow for Carmen’s needs. Jeff suggests flag semaphore as an alternative means … Continue reading Episode 135 — Target Audience →

  • Episode 134 — Twenty Forty

    26/07/2017 Duração: 01h03min

    Adam, Carmen and Jeff discuss how engineering might change by the year 2040 in this episode of The Engineering Commons. Adam hopes to move a little higher into middle management over the next decade… unless he wins the lottery and can immediately proceed to retirement! We begin by looking back 23 years, to what engineering … Continue reading Episode 134 — Twenty Forty →

  • Episode 133 — Embarrassed Engineer

    27/06/2017 Duração: 01h12min

    This episode finds the gang discussing engineering projects that went awry, but did not result in the loss of human life. While map makers include trap streets to catch copyright violators, Adam reassures us he’s never been asked to physically construct such a street. It seems that mapping software sometimes makes traffic worse. At the … Continue reading Episode 133 — Embarrassed Engineer →

  • Episode 132 — By Any Other Name

    05/06/2017 Duração: 59min

    We discuss the case of an Oregon man fined for “practicing engineering without a license” in this episode of The Engineering Commons. Both Jeff and Adam have attended a few plays authored by William Shakespeare. A line from Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet is often used to assert that names do not change what something … Continue reading Episode 132 — By Any Other Name →

  • Episode 131 — Five Years

    22/05/2017 Duração: 01h07min

    Chris Gammell returns to The Engineering Commons to discuss how his views on engineering education (and the engineering profession) have evolved over the past five years. Jeff is coming to appreciate that learning is a social event. Massively open online courses (MOOCs) were once thought to be the next “big thing” in education. Our guest … Continue reading Episode 131 — Five Years →

  • Episode 130 — DC Motors

    08/05/2017 Duração: 01h29min

    In this episode of The Engineering Commons, we discuss an electromechanical component commonly used to achieve physical motion; the ubiquitous direct-current (DC) motor. Carmen admits to getting turned on by electricity… and sugar! Although differences between engines and motors can be argued, at least one definition claims that an engine converts chemical energy to mechanical … Continue reading Episode 130 — DC Motors →

  • Episode 129 — Noticing

    10/04/2017 Duração: 01h13min

    We are joined once more by Dave Goldberg, author of A Whole New Engineer, to discuss the critical engineering skills of noticing, listening, and questioning. Brian takes a 50/50 shot at guessing whether President Lincoln faces left or right on the United States one-cent coin. For younger listeners, Jeff describes the features of a telephone … Continue reading Episode 129 — Noticing →

  • Episode 128 — Industrial Academic

    20/03/2017 Duração: 01h22min

    Dr. Dave Vandenbout offers up his insights on choosing between academic and industrial careers in this episode of The Engineering Commons. Carmen wastes no time in revealing his secret method for stress-testing CMOS chips. X-ray systems can be useful in locating bad solder joints hidden underneath a ball grid array (BGA) integrated circuit. Our guest … Continue reading Episode 128 — Industrial Academic →

  • Episode 127 — Technical Writing

    06/03/2017 Duração: 01h22min

    We talk with iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens about documenting and sharing technical procedures, especially those related to the repair of consumer devices. We start this episode by catching up on some past episodes… In Episode 111, “Environmental Engineering,” we talked with Bronwyn Bell, an environmental engineer from Western Australia, who is now featured in an … Continue reading Episode 127 — Technical Writing →

  • Episode 126 — Diesel Power

    20/02/2017 Duração: 01h03min

    Aeronautical engineer Clay Coons joins us to discuss the many applications of diesel engines. Adam’s Kubota BX tractor is powered by a 23 HP diesel engine. During his high school years, Jeff learned that gasoline (petrol) engines don’t run too well on diesel fuel. Ska Punk music often features horns, as evidenced on a song … Continue reading Episode 126 — Diesel Power →

  • Episode 125 — Cubicle Farm

    06/02/2017 Duração: 01h08min

    We discuss how the workplace environment influences our productivity in this episode of The Engineering Commons. Jeff is currently sharing an office, so although he doesn’t have much extra space, he does have a door he can close when necessary. Brian uses his office as a storage locker, collecting old printed circuit boards and spare … Continue reading Episode 125 — Cubicle Farm →

  • Episode 124 — Mad Skillz

    23/01/2017 Duração: 01h03min

    The gang discusses how one acquires the skills most frequently used by engineering professionals. Brian knows that parliamentary procedures are described in Robert’s Rules of Order, but he has not had to use such procedures in the course of his engineering career. A quorum is the minimum number of voting members from a deliberative group … Continue reading Episode 124 — Mad Skillz →

  • Episode 123 — Transitions 2016

    09/01/2017 Duração: 01h37s

    In this episode of The Engineering Commons, we discuss transitions experienced by Adam, Carmen and Jeff during the past year. Brian participates in our round-robin discussion, but it seems his 2016 was fairly routine. Adam has been residing in his new estate since mid-November, and is still uncovering new surprises on his property. A power … Continue reading Episode 123 — Transitions 2016 →

  • Episode 122 — Jared Asks

    26/12/2016 Duração: 01h20min

    In this episode of The Engineering Commons, we answer questions from listener Jared about coping as an engineering student. Carmen informs us that making accurate estimations is an important engineering skill. In this episode, we answer questions from listener Jared about surviving the math-science death march encountered in the typical engineering curriculum. It’s normal to … Continue reading Episode 122 — Jared Asks →

  • Episode 121 — Idle Doodling

    28/11/2016 Duração: 01h06min

    In this episode of The Engineering Commons, our intrepid crew discusses planning, leading and attending the dreaded corporate meeting. It seems that Brian elects to daydream when in boring meetings, whereas Jeff has been known to doodle extensively. Jeff located a website claiming to offer doodle analysis and interpretation, although the disclaimer notes that it … Continue reading Episode 121 — Idle Doodling →

  • Episode 120 — Augmented Engineer

    14/11/2016 Duração: 01h08min

    This episode of The Engineering Commons finds Adam, Brian, Carmen and Jeff predicting how virtual and augmented realities might soon be incorporated into daily engineering activities. Adam’s not so sure he’s ready to plug into the Matrix. Brian suggests that understanding differential calculus is much less practical than knowing Kung Fu. Bullet time is a … Continue reading Episode 120 — Augmented Engineer →

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