Saturday, 25 January 2014

Heads Down!

University teaching starts on Monday, and I've cleared my desk of all of the most pressing / time consuming jobs. Work continues to come in, we have bids out for a mix of new R+D, design, and expert witness jobs.

My priority in the next few weeks will be to get my two new modules(one for Year 2, one Master's) working properly. I've decided to try teaching a formal method intended to enhance creativity, the Adapted McMaster 5 point problem solving strategy. I'll see how it goes.

I'm bringing in some other chartered engineers to allow design across a wider range of sectors to be taught in the same way as I have been teaching my Water/Environment sector design examples.

Book chapter is looking good. One of my colleagues pointed out to me the IChemE's CAPE guidelines on use of computers by chemical engineers, which is strongly supportive of my ideas in the area, and I have included a mention of it in there. To summarise - computers support professional opinion, they do not replace it, and it is our professional responsibility to validate all inputs, outputs and the quality and appliability of all programmes used.

More generally, I have not so much been looking for texts which tell me how to carry out design, as those which are based in the same understanding of it which I have intuitively after twenty odd years as a practitioner.

I already knew that we only use validated software and spreadsheets in practice, and that custom writing spreadsheets and programmes (as academics do and teach) to order is fraught with error - the CAPE guidelines only told me that the IChemE had codified my knowledge.

Similarly, I know how I go about solving problems, and the McMaster method only names the stages and formalises the attitudes with which to approach them.

I also know how to carry out a design exercise, and Pahl and Beitz's book only sets down for me a highly systematic and explicit version for beginners to follow.

The problem for those beginners is that for every reliable guide there are twenty unreliable ones in my field, describing not how it is done by practitioners, but some theoretician's unvalidated, unproven, impractical idea of how it ought to be done.

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