Episode 111 — Environmental Engineering

ducklingsBronwyn Bell joins Adam, Brian, Carmen, and Jeff to discuss the challenges and responsibilities of an environmental engineer working in the mining sector.

  • Carmen likes to help out local beer brewers in harvesting hops, but he’s not sure what makes for a good hops growing season.
  • Environmental engineers plan, design and manage projects associated with environmental protection or remediation.
  • Our guest for this episode is Bronwyn Bell, an environmental engineer from Western Australia with extensive experience in the Mining & Resources economic sector.
  • An unfortunate early experience with Super Glue, while building a popsicle stick bridge, convinced Brownyn that she’d rather not be a civil engineer.
  • Subsectors within the environmental engineering field include wastewater treatment, air pollution control, waste disposal, recyling, and public health management.
  • Bronwyn managed to make spending time at a nearby beer brewery an integral part of her engineering studies.
  • Our guest has worked in coal mines, iron mines, and diamond mines… and has also visited a number of gold mines.
  • Kimberlite is an igneous rock that may contain diamonds.
  • Alluvial diamond mining is usually associated with smaller-scale mining operations.
  • Browyn has done a lot of work in the Pilbara region of Australia, which contains some of the Earth’s oldest rock formations.
  • Tailings are the materials that remain after ore is processed to remove its more valuable components.
  • Brian jokes about differences in pronouncing the thirteenth element on the periodic table.
  • A metric ton, or tonne, is a mass equivalent to 1,000 kilograms.
  • Bronwyn notes that a good environmental solution is often a good financial solution, as waste reduction aids both.
  • One of our guest’s projects received financial relief due to the presence of Asian green mussels.
  • Our guest can be reached via email: billson.bell -=+ at +=- gmail dot com.

Thanks to Stephen Bowler for use of the photo titled “Ducklings.” Opening music by John Trimble, and concluding theme by Paul Stevenson.

Episode 110 — Engineering Vacation

DSC_3684Adam, Brian, Carmen and Jeff discuss the activities they enjoy when escaping the workplace for a few days.

Thanks to Chris Reed for use of the untitled beach photo. Opening music by John Trimble, and concluding theme by Paul Stevenson.

Episode 109 — Design Process

designAdam, Brian, Carmen and Jeff discuss theoretical and practical aspects of the design process, as well as the emotional states they experience when engaged in design activities.

  • Carmen is starting to gain confidence in his design abilities.
  • Jeff notes that a lot of his colleagues wanted to be design engineers, but the number of available positions for such work was rather limited.
  • Carmen and Jeff agree that the design process was not discussed in any great detail during their college years.
  • A wide variety of meanings have been attached to the word “design.” Additionally, the word can be used as either a verb or a noun.
  • Brian describes a humorous design concept meeting from the TV series, Silcon Valley.
  • A lot of design work goes on outside the realm of product design, notes Carmen.
  • Xerox PARC scientists decided that design activities “moved minds,” while engineering activities “moved atoms.”
  • In the Rational Design Model, constraints and objectives are known in advance, allowing optimal designs to be created in accordance with a predetermined plan that follows discrete stages.
  • In the Action-Centric Design Model, creativity and emotion guide design decisions along an improvised path in which no predetermined structure is evident.
  • Brian mentions using the Phase-Gate Model of project management in previous design work.
  • Young engineers are warned by Brian to avoid “custom firmware.”
  • Jeff mentions a video that attempts to explain the Engineering Design Process to children.
  • Steps of the Engineering Design Process include:
    1. Determine Design Constraints
    2. Research Existing Issues and Potential Solutions
    3. Conceptualization
    4. Feasibility
    5. Prototype
    6. Testing
    7. Evaluate Solution Path
    8. Detailed design
    9. Production planning
  • Brian and Jeff discuss “creeping featurism.”
  • A conversation ensures about emotions associated with the design process.
  • Jeff notes that a lot of design work is tedious, meaning that one must enjoy design for its own sake.

Thanks to Julien Belli for use of the photo titled “Design.” Opening music by John Trimble, and concluding theme by Paul Stevenson.

Practical insights for the engineering crowd