Episode 32 — Fitting In

FittingInIn this episode, we discuss working with those from other technical disciplines, and also touch upon the software skills that engineers should possess.

  • Our guest for this episode is Paul Davis, a software engineer who currently writes jet engine control code.
  • Although there is some dispute about the quotation’s origin, EdsgerDijkstra is frequently credited with proclaiming that “Computer science is not about machines, in the same way that astronomy is not about telescopes. There is an essential unity of mathematics and computer science.”
  • Computer science relies on a number of developments found in discrete mathematics.
  • Paul’s first job after college involved getting Windows 3.1 users connected to the internet via a program called Winsock.
  • His next job found him managing a VAX cluster that ran on the VMS operating system.
  • To gain software development experience, Paul earned a masters degree in Software Engineering from Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.
  • One tool for managing software development is the Capability Maturity Model (CMM).
  • Paul found the study of formal methods, using Z notation, to be both useful and intellectually challenging.
  • In an old blog post, Jeff reasoned that software engineers are really “engineers.”
  • Since code can be easily changed, tweaking software is often the lowest cost “fix,” but can cause unimagined and unintended consequences.
  • Paul has encountered a number of engineers that use an interface package, such as Simulink, to isolate them from having to generate low level code.
  • Engineers can benefit from learning more about software development, according to Paul, since so much of modern engineering involves programming.
  • Writing code is the best way to learn about coding issues. Paul suggests Python, since it is a widely supported language with a lot of good tutorials.
  • Does anyone actually read these show notes? Perhaps I could simply string together random words like baseball, snowshoe and bubble gum.
  • Jeff struggles to describe a linear variable differential transformer (LVDT), even though he taught a Mechatronics course this past spring. He promises to do better in the future!
  • Paul suggests that software developers specialize in a particular domain, and that physical engineers strengthen their awareness of software concerns.

Thanks to Bappaditya Dasgupta for the photo titled “Outcast.” Podcast theme music provided by Paul Stevenson

3 thoughts on “Episode 32 — Fitting In”

  1. I cheat and read the notes to avoid listening if the topic doesn’t interest me. If I had the time, I’d listen to all the podcasts… If I had the time, I’d do a lot more things…

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