Tag Archives: engineering

So much for composites…

Few weeks ago I was talking to a stress engineer from Eurocopter Spain about the different activities they performed. He was looking forward to the future work in relation to the latest EC 175, a helicopter built in cooperation with China for civilian and parapublic markets, mainly to support oil and gas exploration and search and rescue missions.

“At last we’re back to metal structures…”

He mentioned this in relation to apparent problems given by composites ones in their use in helicopters. This reminded me of a teacher (at engineering school) and former (very senior) colleague at Airbus Military, who was never seduced by the massive application of composites and he always called for their introduction following his mantra:

“Technology (in the context of application of science), is the most powerful means to increase the effectiveness-to-cost ratio.”

Which not always calls for the use of the latest technology available.

So much for the hype of composites…

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Neil Armstrong and engineering

While on holidays I read the following tweet from my brother:

Some weeks have passed by since I last wrote in the blog, and today I just wanted to pay homage to Neil Armstrong. In the wonderful obituary dedicated to him in The Economist, he is portrayed as having “engineer’s reserve, mixed with a natural shyness” and someone who didn’t like to be treated as a hero (though as the article goes “the struggle against heroism seemed particularly futile”).

The obituary quotes a self description he made at an address to the America’s National Press Club in 2000 (podcast here):

“I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer, born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace and propelled by compressible flow.”

I love that description and we may appreciate him even more for his humbleness, but, as the tweet of my brother says, thanks to figures like his, even if due to a collective achievement, there are students that are encouraged to become engineers. Three videos:

The arrival to the Moon…

Neil Armstrong’s address at his college at Purdue University praising the engineering profession:

A nice and short tribute to him I found surfing the web:

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What was my childhood dream job?

Some days ago, I got an email from a source-of-ideas-for-blogs service called Plinky, from which I have already picked some good ideas to write about in posts in the past (on charities, advice…).

The question I liked this time from the email was:

“What was your childhood dream job?”

I don’t know whether I have been posed this precise question many times or not, what I know is the answer to it and that I have given that answer many times to other questions.

When I was a child I wanted to be an astronaut. I don’t know exactly why, but that was my dream job. Surely, I can recall memories of toys related to space, such as a model of the Challenger that my brother and I played with (I presume it came before the accident), or toys related with Star Wars, etc.

This passion, among other factors, led me to study aerospace engineering, and then work for Airbus, which is not working as an astronaut but is still working in the aerospace business. Many times, I have been asked why I studied what I did, sometimes by corporate HR quizzers, and this is what came as a response.

Would I still want to be an astronaut?

Sure! But, yes, I am not pursuing it. I guess I am just waiting for the moment when commercial space flight costs not 20M$ but about 100k$, and if by then I can afford it I guess I would pay for enjoying a stunt out there.

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