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Old 07-23-2013, 07:53 AM   #811
pretbek
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slartidbartfast View Post
I worked with a guy who had a MECHANICAL ENGINEERING degree and could not change his oil or change a wheel (and I don't mean he just didn't do it himself, he really didn't know how.)
...And?
He can probably do a mighty good Finite Element Analysis on stressed engine part models, or optimize production and automation in a manufacturing facility.
But I'm not surprised that a person does not know how to change the oil or a wheel.

The fact that he has a degree in something does not mean that he has also mastered all the manual and practical operations that might be associated with the degree:
An architect does not also need to be a master plumber, carpenter and electrician to be good at his job.
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Old 07-23-2013, 07:59 AM   #812
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Agreed, but not because it may provide a more stable career but because not everyone is the same. There are people with the natural skills and passion to work in vocational trades just like those who work in more professional roles.
Those with engineering degrees can't design effectively without having practical knowledge as well. I did a lot of prototyping in Ford R&D, and I'd have engineers come down with designs that were totally impractical or impossible to make on a production basis. They had very little knowledge of materials or processes. I've had young engineers who had no idea of what a 3-view drawing or third angle projection was. It was easier to work with their designer (CAD guy). I'd see him and have him run printouts of the drawing files.

I don't know about now, but standard practice in the UK and Europe was to start young engineering grads out in the shops in a program to teach them the practical things they never learned in their college classes.
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Old 07-23-2013, 09:58 AM   #813
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Last November, the ignition coils in my old Concours failed.

Being that I had to often pass a certain Kawasaki dealer to go to work, I figured I'd order the parts from them, since I had gotten a few things there before, and never had any issues.

I go in, tell them what parts I need, they order them, and charge my card. Ok, fair game. It's the part on the fiche, what could possibly go wrong? They tell me the coils will be in on Tuesday, and I'm on my way.

Everything. Everything you can imagine went wrong.

I show up Wednesday to pick up the parts, and opening the box, discover that the design is completely different. (I should point out, I'm a very active COG member, and have worked on probably a dozen different first-gen Concours since I've had this one, I KNOW what the ignition coils look like on this thing.)

So I tell the parts guy "These are wrong. This won't fit. The wires are hard-soldered to the coils. I have my own, new wires that I just installed." He says, in a nutshell "No, these will fit. And you can't return them." I hadn't even left with them yet, but was told "No refunds on electrical parts."

So we go back and forth on this, and eventually I just leave, parts in hand. Get home, pull the coils from the bike, and compare them. I took half a dozen pictures, and then I called Kawasaki customer service. They couldn't tell me if they were or were not the correct part, other than "Well, it should fit." So I say, ok, let me check. They don't fit. Shape of the coil housing is completely different.

So I go back to the dealer, copies of these e-mails in hand, plus the original coils. I plunk them on the counter and say "Hey, I'm back, this is what came off the bike, and it's been there since December 1999, when it was built."

They still refuse to work with me. So I report them to the BBB, and the FTC. I wrote very disparaging Yelp and Google reviews.

Then I get a call, the following week: "Bring the coils back, take down the reviews, and we'll refund your money."

I say, OK, sure. So I bring the coils back, they give me my money. The reviews are still up, and their BBB rating is still affected. Don't fuck with me when it comes to money or parts. I'm not some idiotic sheep off the street, ok?

This is why I don't normally give dealers any business anymore. If I have a warranty issue, sure, but otherwise, I have an independent mechanic do all my work that could put even a top Kawi/Suzuki/BMW tech to shame. As for parts, I use Bikebandit or Ron Ayers exclusively.

As for that dealer, last I heard, my angry letters to the management and owners went unopened. Their loss. I spent $14k on a new Concours 14 at one of their competitors.
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Old 07-23-2013, 10:18 AM   #814
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slartidbartfast View Post
I worked with a guy who had a MECHANICAL ENGINEERING degree and could not change his oil or change a wheel (and I don't mean he just didn't do it himself, he really didn't know how.)
An EE I worked with years ago ... brilliant guy. Dude could draw schematics for higher-order filters on a napkin, complete with values calculated in his head, and it'd work...
...but give the guy a screwdriver and sparks were flying. Touched a glowing-red capacitor once... stuck his hand between two energized 250V DC power supplies...
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Old 07-23-2013, 10:46 AM   #815
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slartidbartfast View Post
I worked with a guy who had a MECHANICAL ENGINEERING degree and could not change his oil or change a wheel (and I don't mean he just didn't do it himself, he really didn't know how.)

I hired a lot of engineers and Engineering Coops from RIT. One of the first questions was did they do their own work on their car, bicycle, etc. Did they get in trouble as a kid when they took apart a radio/tv/lawmower etc? And did they get it back together? If it was no, their use to me was nil. I needed designers that were practical., and could trouble shoot both new and old designs.

Being able to do 2nd order Differential Equations in their head, did nothing to help the company.
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Old 07-23-2013, 11:59 AM   #816
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Originally Posted by PFFOG View Post
I hired a lot of engineers and Engineering Coops from RIT. One of the first questions was did they do their own work on their car, bicycle, etc. Did they get in trouble as a kid when they took apart a radio/tv/lawmower etc? And did they get it back together? If it was no, their use to me was nil. I needed designers that were practical., and could trouble shoot both new and old designs.

Being able to do 2nd order Differential Equations in their head, did nothing to help the company.
One thing I always told the young engineers was to get themselves the current edition of Machinery's Handbook. The company would pay for it. It's a gold mine of information.
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Old 07-23-2013, 12:02 PM   #817
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Engineering Science...

One of the reasons behind the lack of "practical" engineering graduates is that after World War II most of the engineering curricula made a sharp turn in the direction of "engineering science"...less practical and more theoretical content. I think Sputnik accelerated that.

Both are important. I recently retired after 36 years as an M.E. faculty at a mid-level U.S. state university. I was always happiest in the lab doing "real" stuff (research area was robotics; developed a LEGO Robot course before it became popular), but my job evaluation (promotion & tenure) was pretty well focused on how many journal papers I wrote and funding $$$ I brought in.

Being a theoretician made life easier, but I wasn't smart enough for that

Always admired my first department chairman; he was an old-time theoretical mechanics guru...he could make a living with a pencil .

--Doc

PS. +1 on "Machinery's Handbook"
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Old 07-23-2013, 12:24 PM   #818
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Originally Posted by Dr. Greg View Post
One of the reasons behind the lack of "practical" engineering graduates is that after World War II most of the engineering curricula made a sharp turn in the direction of "engineering science"...less practical and more theoretical content. I think Sputnik accelerated that.

Both are important. I recently retired after 36 years as an M.E. faculty at a mid-level U.S. state university. I was always happiest in the lab doing "real" stuff (research area was robotics; developed a LEGO Robot course before it became popular), but my job evaluation (promotion & tenure) was pretty well focused on how many journal papers I wrote and funding $$$ I brought in.

Being a theoretician made life easier, but I wasn't smart enough for that

Always admired my first department chairman; he was an old-time theoretical mechanics guru...he could make a living with a pencil .

--Doc

PS. +1 on "Machinery's Handbook"
GM understood that many years ago and opened GM Tech to train their own engineers. We have other tech schools, one in the area is Lawrence Tech, then upstate is Ferris Tech and Michigan Tech up in the UP. Ford had a Trade School many years ago that took boys and made journeymen toolmakers out of them. I worked with a few. The big advantage was that they could get a good job anywhere with that training.
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Old 07-23-2013, 12:39 PM   #819
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Originally Posted by pretbek View Post

The fact that he has a degree in something does not mean that he has also mastered all the manual and practical operations that might be associated with the degree:
An architect does not also need to be a master plumber, carpenter and electrician to be good at his job.
B.S. we had a young buck fresh out of engineering school working for us for a little over a year. I remember one day snapping on him and telling him to get in the truck we were going for a drive. we went to a site we were working on and I explained to him that this is what work looks like and this is what I am asking you to design spec and draw. it was a ladder and platform. he had no idea how it worked or what to do. because all he had ever done was play video games and dungeons and dragons. last I heard he was going back to school with the hopes of some day getting a collage teaching gig. just what we need is one more person with zero practical experience shaping young minds.

im not saying he needs to be an ace welder/fabricator but dam he should at least understand the basics.
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Old 07-23-2013, 01:22 PM   #820
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...
im not saying he needs to be an ace welder/fabricator but dam he should at least understand the basics.
damn
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Old 07-23-2013, 02:27 PM   #821
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Originally Posted by dmaxmike View Post
B.S. we had a young buck fresh out of engineering school working for us for a little over a year. I remember one day snapping on him and telling him to get in the truck we were going for a drive. we went to a site we were working on and I explained to him that this is what work looks like and this is what I am asking you to design spec and draw. it was a ladder and platform. he had no idea how it worked or what to do. because all he had ever done was play video games and dungeons and dragons. last I heard he was going back to school with the hopes of some day getting a collage teaching gig. just what we need is one more person with zero practical experience shaping young minds.

im not saying he needs to be an ace welder/fabricator but dam he should at least understand the basics.
Yep, this was one of the BIG problems I had with engineering school. A lot of my classmates got great grades and could whip a pencil with the best of them, but hand them a wrench and put them in front of a car, and the hilarity would ensue. Or a design project and though I'd give them points for creativity, the designs they'd come up with were insane and unworkable. Almost like they were TRYING to overcomplicate it.

Practical experience is nil, and though it's good to get well arounded in all of the different aspects of engineering, geting down to the nitty gritty of EVERYTHING is a waste of effort. I've forgotton 90% of what I learned.
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Old 07-23-2013, 02:29 PM   #822
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This video basically sums it all up. The lack of practical knowledge in the workplace because everyone wants their kid to go to college with a degree.

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Old 07-23-2013, 04:27 PM   #823
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There are some practical exercises like Formula SAE and the solar powered car event for the schools that choose to compete. There are many more jobs in product design and development than there are in pure research.

Shortly before I retired, I was standing near a pickup that was raised on a hoist. A young fellow came over and asked me whether or not that truck had four wheel drive. I asked him if he was an engineer, and he said yes. Unbelievable! I told him to go and ask his leader. Hopefully, he'd know.
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Old 07-23-2013, 08:16 PM   #824
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I've queried the local BMW parts manager this very question a couple of months ago after the fourth time of him telling me 'no, they don't have it in stock, but they can order it'

I politely said: I understand that you can order the part, but so can I. And it will be on my door step in 3 days for the same price or less, including shipping, that I'd pay you to have to come back out here and get it in a week. I'm not trying to be a dick here, but what value or service are you adding that would convince me to spend more money AND more time to get the exact same part?


He had no response.
The mantra for years in business has been "inventory bad". I retired from Honeywell, Allied Signal, AiResearch (all the same company) and when I started it was "keep the cupboards full. If you need one, order five in case we need more." Then when they realized those millions of dollars worth of stuff taking up shelf space (5 oil cooler brackets for a B-17) were costing the company 1 1/2% per month in interest they got religion and started trimming it back. Every shop should have maintenance items on hand for routine service but if you have to wait a few days for parts and it's a problem that sounds like poor planning on your part unless you are stuck in Moose Scrotum Montana with a fried stator and the Dew Drop Inn is threatening to throw you out for not paying your room bill.
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Old 07-23-2013, 10:06 PM   #825
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There are some practical exercises like Formula SAE and the solar powered car event for the schools that choose to compete. There are many more jobs in product design and development than there are in pure research.

Shortly before I retired, I was standing near a pickup that was raised on a hoist. A young fellow came over and asked me whether or not that truck had four wheel drive. I asked him if he was an engineer, and he said yes. Unbelievable! I told him to go and ask his leader. Hopefully, he'd know.
yeah, I go to Cal State Northridge and we compete in Formula SAE. We get a choice of three different senior projects, one of them being formula SAE . That being said, there are tons of other mech. engineering students who don't know how to turn a wrench. Glad i'm not one of them
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