Coach Log – The call to Coach another Year


CarlSorensenFaceShot“Ken, this is Carl Sorensen.” A very familiar voice projected from my speaker phone. “How are you?”

I hesitated as twelve years of memories flashed across my mind. I knew what Dr. Sorensen wanted. I expected his yearly August call, but I hadn’t made up my mind yet.

“Ken?”

I could picture the MIT graduate and seasoned Capstone Director in his fourth-floor office at BYU; strong voice, prominent chin, caring smile, and excellent teacher.

“Yes, Hi Dr. Sorensen, I’m doing great.” In another shameful millisecond I criticized the truth of my claim. Lately, in my thirty-second year of industry engineering, work has been difficult; tight schedules, hard problems. I didn’t have time for Capstone, at least not enough to be fare to the students.

“Ken, we’d like you to be a Capstone Coach again this year. We like your mentoring.”

Yes, I thought. I’ve been a pretty good mentor to… Let’s see, how many? Twelve years, an average of five or six students per team, somewhere between sixty and seventy students. I feel like I did them some good during their senior years. But, with my heavy workload, how am I going to…

“Yes,” I said. Wait, what happened to that two letter word I was forming? “I’m swamped at work,” I went on, “but I want more than anything to mentor students again. It is a great experience.”

“Wonderful.”

My academic colleague cinched the deal with one word. No turning back now.

“Ken,” he continued, “you’ve always received high reviews from the students, and we know your team will get a great coach. We don’t want you to do their project for them. We want you to help us teach them the principles of product development.”

“I’d be honored to work with the faculty, the coaches, and the students again.”

“Great,” Carl said. “We’ll be having our coach kickoff meeting a week from Friday. It’ll be great to see you again.”

“I look forward to it. Thanks Carl.”

As I turned off my phone, I felt that astounding and familiar mixture of panic and excitement; that exhilaration when you set out on a risky journey, driven by the certainty that meaning experiences will come.

(Image of Carl Sorensen from me.byu.edu)

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Too binary in your engineering thinking?


Get with someone who thinks differently that you. Try this short story to solve a binary problem. Answer the questions at the end.

https://engineerstories.com/2014/08/26/one-one-half-four/

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STEM Talk – Engineering is Cool



Watch Ken Hardman, an aerospace engineer and author talk to a group of youth about the engineering of airplanes, rockets, and space vehicles. Learn about mechanical, electrical, civil, chemical, industrial, and computer engineering. Watch, listen, and learn about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

 

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Valkyrie Painting (finally)


A lot of things have been limiting my art production. First, we had a baby. We didn’t really bother with anything but learning to be parents right after Halvor was born. Then Bethany went bac…

Source: Valkyrie Painting (finally)

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“Units” can make all the difference in the… Mars


Inches vs Meters

Engineers and yet to be engineers, see how using the wrong ‘units’ can make all the difference in whether a space probe hit’s the mark, crashes into a planet, or heads off back into space. “The Mars Climate Orbiter (MCO) Mishap Investigation Board (MIB) has determined that the root cause for the loss of the MCO spacecraft was the failure to use metric units in the coding of a ground software file, “Small Forces,” used in trajectory models.” See the whole report here.

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Engineering Family History Stories


JohnGriffinAge30

Dear Engineering Stories friends, Thank you so very much for your interest in these Engineering Stories. I have enjoyed writing them both because I enjoy engineering, and I enjoy writing in general. In fact, at my regular job, I see myself in part as a technical writer because I’m always writing specifications, requirements, plans, presentations, proposals, and procedures. I enjoy writing whether technical, creative, or, yes about my genealogy. I have taken on the task of trying to make my ancestors accessible to their busy posterity by writing very very short succinct summaries of a key time in their lives. May I encourage this exercise? Those who lived on this earth before us, gave us so much, and there is so much we can learn from them. Take a look! Each story can be read in 90 seconds or less. And from one engineer to another, try writing some of these yourself, about your ancestors; it’s good writing practice for any anyone in any vocation, including engineering, it takes skill to write in so few a words. And each story is uplifting. Besides, you might find and engineer in your family tree; I did! Click here and FOLLOW my #AncestorClips blog. To help you write a short short meaningful story about your ancestor, engineer or not, I prepared a worksheet for you. Click here and start writing. www.ancestorclips.com #familyhistory #genealogy

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Polaris Station – Novelette Conclusion


(Continued from Part 10)

“I, I’ll try, but Kendall.” Katya said.

Kendall could hear the fear in her voice.

“Dmitry,” Kendall said. “Do the best you can from the Quad, son.” He and A4 had a terrifying view of the incoming rogue. “Do it now. Program the peak of the lateral wave to be right at the time of rogue passing. Becca knows the dynamics. Team up. We need a miracle.”

“Houston concurs. We are notifying all emergency channels of your situation. Good luck, Polaris.”

“Dad,” Dmitry said. “Becca and I are refining the polar equations for the satellite matrix.

“Dmitry,” Becca said. “You’ll have to sacrifice some gain margin.”

“But, what about stability?”

“It’s margin,” she said. “It’s there for safety. It will all be for naught if we don’t push it, use a global edit to modify gain margin on all parameters for the string of M-Sat values.

“Dmitry? This is Flight. We are receiving your parameters. Connecting you through to station control system. Ready to execute control on your commands.”

“Executing lateral wave maneuver now,” Dmitry said.

Kendall and A4 discontinued their cable descent, wrapped arms and legs around the nanotube firmly as the constellation and wing moved almost undetectably in a lateral direction.

“Captain Parker,” Houston said. “34 seconds before rogue collision.”

“We see it. Oh my… Houston, lateral offset is increasing, but very slowly. We are holding on. Here it comes…here it comes…”

“We are entering the Quad now,” Katya said. “Enabling Quad controls.”

Kendall held tight to his life’s work, looked straight down toward the Earth, toward the space elevator base where his family would either save the station, it’s purpose, and their lives, or lose everything.

“It’s just not fast enough,” Dmitry’s voice was heard over the radio again. “The frequency response is too low. I need real-time…”

The radio from the Quad went dead.

“Good-bye.” Kendall looked down again, imagined Katya, Becca, and Dmitry looking intently through the Quad upper windows at the station straining to see the last of their husband and father. He reaffirmed his grip when the station lateral movement unexpectedly increased.

Kendall’s space suit environmental pack hummed it’s moderate tone. The nanotube emitted its gentle fifteen Hertz vibration. The radio emitted static. His breath was silent. His heart stopped.

“It cleared,” Kendall yelled, his heart beating again. “It cleared. It passed so quick we couldn’t turn our heads fast enough. No debris, no impact, no shock, no sound.”

Kendall finally turned enough to see the departing M-Sats. “There! Look A4, 479’s reflection moving above the satellite stream and out into space.”

The radio suddenly saturated with cheering from Houston and the Quad.

When the applause died down, Flight broke in. “That was amazing, Dmitry, Becca, Katya. And you too, Kendall and A4.”

“Thank you, Houston,” Katya said, “Dmitry, give me that tissue box. NASA, you picked the right team for this mission.”

“Katya,” Flight said. “There must be a problem with your beacons. Telemetry shows the Quad still docked with the elevator.”

“Katya, Katya,” Kendall’s heart trying to get back to normal. “You came back to the elevator didn’t you?”

“We never left, Dad.” Kendall heard his daughter’s voice. “It was Dmitry. At the last moment, Dmitry went back into the elevator and connected with the station bus. It was just fast enough to…”

“Becca, Dmitry,” Kendall shouted. “You did it. You did it!”

Kendall then lowered his voice. “My Katya, you are the best. I love you. Now quickly, get up here so I can show you just how I feel, and show you what it’s like up here. It’s more phenomenal than we ever imagined. See you in three hours. Enjoy the ride up.”

“Sir,” A4 said.

“Yes, A4,” Kendall responded.

“We have a problem.

“You mean we had a problem,” Kendall said.

“On its current path,” A4 said, “by Newton’s laws, M-479 will reach Octans Station in 43 minutes.”

Kendall stopped. “I know A4, but one emergency at a time.”

“The Callahan’s are in danger,” A4 continued. “If it clears Octans Station, we will then be ‘running the gauntlet’ again forty-six minutes after that.”

“The gauntlet?” Kendall asked. “Where did you get that ‘idiom’?”

A4 promptly replied. “I found it in my latest download. A gauntlet is a…”

“No, wait, what was that message this morning… the gauntlet is thrown? SEPA? Grappler Sub?” Kendall resumed a more rapid dissension to the station. “Let’s go, A4. I don’t think 479 was not an isolated anomaly.”

“Dad.” Kendall heard Dmitry on his private family channel.

“Dmitry?”

“I’m getting an automated status log from the wing suspension system, specifically the maglev field intensity controls.”

“What are you talking about, and why are you on our private channel?” Kendall said. “Why would the maglev send you a message?”

“In all of my software systems, I code a back door input and reporting routine.”

“Of course you do.”

“It’s A4,” Dmitry said.

“What?” Kendall said.

“It’s A4. That station vibration you had this morning?”

“Yes. What about it.”

“The suspension software log indicates that A4 transmitted a half Hertz field calibration wave into the maintenance buffers several days ago. It has a 24 hour period. This would explain the periodic station oscillations you’ve been getting. And it looks like his protocols have been changed too. Possibly to hide the transmission.”

Kendall paused his descent and looked at A4 without speaking.

“Dad,” Dmitry continued. “Did someone modify A4’s protocols?”

“No,” Kendall replied. “At least not that I know of. Wait a minute. A4 asked me about that this morning. But, if you put a back door in the code, could someone else use that back door to insert commands?”

“Only if.” Dmitry said. “Only if they got my password.”

“Dmitry? Does your password have something to do with knights, and the middle ages?

THE END

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