Tuesday, July 14, 2015

x-ray vision, flight, or super speed?

I don't remember an exact age or even moment at which I knew I wanted to be an engineer.  I guess engineering is what I always wanted to do since I was little, though I didn't always have a name for the profession.  I spent afternoons taking apart outgrown bicycles in the garage, cutting my hands on sharp pieces of metal trying to figure out how one piece was attached to the next and which tools were better for which job.  I enjoyed taking apart broken toys, electronics -- seeing how everything was put together thrilled me.  Then when I got older, I got better at putting the old bikes back together again, even fixing the toys.  It has always been important for me to figure out the way a thing works by looking at it, using it, guessing what mechanism, what type of guts and gears lay hidden beneath its outer shell, and dissecting it to verify the guess.

Now that I am bigger, I do the same thing I've always done.  Though I sometimes get the chance to do it in reverse -- guessing what mechanism might be used to complete a task efficiently, building the mechanism, and then using or testing it.  This is what engineering is to me, and all the equations, theories, and knowledge we gain on the way to becoming engineers are meant to make the guessing more efficient -- to allow us to better anticipate the advantages and disadvantages of one mechanism over another before either is even implemented.  X-ray vision is the end-goal -- the ability to see through hub, suspension, and bottom bracket of a bicycle that has not yet been built.  This type of X-ray vision is not derived from any sort of ring of power or industrial accident, nor does it come from the power of Earth's yellow sun.  It is a skill developed through practice.  And hopefully as I grow even bigger I'll be able to see through thicker problems of ever-increasing opacity.


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