Category Archives: Podcast Episode

Episode 138 — Still Awkward

We catch up with Sam Feller (who previously joined us in Episode 70), discussing his interests, projects, and latest entrepreneurial ventures.

  • Having left industry to pursue an academic career, Jeff isn’t chomping at the bit to move back into the entrepreneurial world.
  • Our guest for this episode is Sam Feller, a mechanical engineer who may be better known to our listeners as the “Awkward Engineer” from Episode 70.
  • Sam continues to run his Awkward Engineer website as a side project, selling widgets and gadgets that are designed to fascinate and entertain the engineering mind.
  • More recently, Sam has been working with WrightGrid in designing and producing solar-powered charging stations.
  • Skills acquired from pursuing his hobbies have helped Sam in his more recent entrepreneurial efforts.
  • Having “fried” his BeagleBone, Sam has been developing his bus stop sign using the Particle device platform.
  • The Python package Beautiful Soup is handy for parsing HTML and XML feeds.
  • Sam accesses bus arrival times using the NextBus API.
  • Our guest was kind enough to spend time with us in the middle of his family vacation near Cape Canaveral, Florida.
  • Those interested in learning to program micro-controllers will find a lot of online support for the Arduino platform, says Sam.
  • Listeners wishing to reach Sam can do so through the contact page on the Awkward Engineer website.

Thanks to Sam Feller for use of his untitled bus sign photo. Opening music by John Trimble, and concluding theme by Paul Stevenson.

Episode 137 — Late Summer

In an episode that was recorded in early October, Adam, Carmen, and Jeff reflect on their summer activities, and on plans for the remaining months of 2017.

  • Carmen spent a lot of his summer traveling, both domestically and internationally.
  • Although he spends a good deal of time dealing with marketing people, Carmen claims that he’s not gone over to the “dark side.”
  • Entering his second year of full-time employment with a Midwestern university, Jeff finds his time is frequently relegated to administrative duties.
  • We learn that Carmen is an advocate of xeriscaping, a landscaping style that seeks to reduce the need for irrigation. Jeff, on the other hand, is a fan of letting native weeds influence his landscaping efforts.
  • For over a century, a tree has been growing atop the roof of the Decatur County Courthouse in Greensburg, Indiana.
  • Adam has been quite busy at work, as the legislature in his state decided to allocate additional monies for road construction.
  • In his rare free moments, Adam has been constructing a deck for his house.
  • Jeff suggests that engineering projects are “messy” due to their complexity, as well as the uncertainty of creating new methods, processes and products.
  • Many engineering projects involve complex sales, in which the sale of a good or service involves many steps and requires the approval of multiple individuals.
  • Mention is made of Dr. James Trevelyan, who made guest appearances on Episode 19 and Episode 68 of The Engineering Commons.
  • Jeff inquires if Adam manages his professional projects proactively, or “by exception.”
  • Engineers are often asked to deal with “edge cases,” claims Jeff, rather than “middle-of-the-road” issues.
  • Somehow the conversation devolves into a discussion of plowing roads with vertical loops (loop-de-loops).
  • Jeff, Carmen, and Adam take turns talking about seasonality in the engineering profession.
  • Carmen recently appeared on the podcast, in an episode titled Bavarian Folk Metal. One of Embedded’s co-hosts, Elecia White, previously appeared on Episode 77 of The Engineering Commons.

Thanks to Kenny Louie for use of the photo titled “It’s fall, really.” Opening music by John Trimble, and concluding theme by Paul Stevenson.

Episode 136 — Circle of Competence

Adam, Brian, Carmen, and Jeff consider the boundaries of one’s own competence in this episode of The Engineering Commons.

Thanks to Ghost of Kuji for providing the photo titled “event horizon.” Opening music by John Trimble, and concluding theme by Paul Stevenson.