Tag Archives: interdisciplinary

Episode 100 — Interdisciplinary Skills

train100Founding co-host Chris Gammell returns to The Engineering Commons to talk about the importance of interdisciplinary skills with Adam, Carmen and Jeff.

  • Knowledge of heat transfer is useful in circuit design, acknowledges Carmen.
  • As part of a required engineering class, sixteen Harvard students designed a smoker for cooking the “perfect” beef brisket.
  • Chris’ educational site, Contextual Electronics, is preparing to start its third year of operation.
  • To avoid software versioning problems, the Contextual Electronics team uses Vagrant, a software program that automates the creation and configuration of virtual development environments.
  • Chris continues his work with SupplyFrame to develop parts.io, an online electronics search engine.
  • Networking through meetups (like the group Chris founded in Cleveland) is important for maintaining industry contacts and staying abreast of technical trends.
  • As the proud owner of a new Wilson II 3D printer, Chris is developing some new technical skills. He hopes to use the printer for enclosure design and fixturing.
  • Jeff theorizes that ongoing reductions in engineering staff, along with automation of specialized tasks, is forcing many engineers into develop a greater range of interdisciplinary skills.
  • The rate of business formation has been declining in the US over the past decade; Chris notes he has nonetheless seen an increasing number of small engineering firms.
  • Foreseeing economic downturns in his first job, Chris actively developed new skills to improve his employability in other technical fields.
  • Being a worry wart, Jeff wonders if advances in artificial intelligence will relegate engineers to providing technical guidance, rather than implementing technology directly.
  • Adam notes a nearly mandatory requirement for professional engineering (PE) licenses has led to an “apprenticeship” arrangement in civil engineering.
  • Carmen recalls Jeff Keyzer’s description of “T-shaped” employees during a past episode of The Amp Hour, which is also described in the Valve new employee handbook (pdf).
  • Having a support group can be a great advantage in trying to learn new skills, notes Chris.
  • Chris comments on the importance of sharing engineering stories, as is done on The Amp Hour, Spark Gap, and Embedded podcasts, as well as The Engineering Commons.
  • Our guest can be found on Twitter as @Chris_Gammell.

Thanks to vxla for use of the photo titled “IC 100 at Chicago Union Station.” Opening music by John Trimble, and concluding theme music by Paul Stevenson.