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Episode 35 — Knowledge Network

graphWe consider engineering as a knowledge network in this episode of The Engineering Commons podcast.

  • Adam relies on his colleagues to help him coordinate his work, as well as to provide him with technical guidance–such as in conducting a Proctor soil compaction test.
  • Carmen similarly has to share information within his office about running a radio-frequency (RF) interference test.
  • Jeff needed fellow engineers to explain how to check the swashplate in an axial piston pump for excessive wear (“scuffing”), and to examine the piston shoes for embedded foreign materials.
  • The theory of Distributed Cognition contends that knowledge and cognition is distributed across objects, individuals, artifacts, and tools found in the environment. This allows a group of people to perform cognitive tasks that no single person can accomplish alone.
  • Chris Gammel had mentioned “context” as being his word of the year, even before he started Contextual Electronics:
  • Organizational Memory is the information and knowledge that is stored in the individuals, records, and procedures of an organization.
  • Social Objects are physical objects that facilitate social interactions.
  • Hugh MacLeod refers to his drawings as social objects. (If you like Hugh’s style, you can get your own business cards that display his artwork.)
  • Carmen makes the analogy that social objects are like cloud condensation nuclei.
  • You can enjoy the same Star Wars/Pulp Fiction wallpaper that Carmen has on his computer at work.
  • Jeff quotes from the 2010 article, Reconstructing Engineering from Practice, written by James Trevelyan and published in Engineering Studies 2:3, 175–195.
  • Both Adam and Carmen use TI-89 calculators, while Jeff relies on an HP-48G (only because he had two copies of the HP-49g+ prematurely quit working).
  • Aditya Johri has written an article titled, Learning to demo: the sociomateriality of newcomer participation in engineering research practices, which discusses how engineers get assimilated into an organization. It was published in Engineering Studies in 2012.
  • Carmen has had good luck getting technical leads by asking for help on his Twitter feed.
  • YouTube has provided Carmen with some good technical background. One of his favorite channels is The Signal Path.
  • Another YouTube channel Carmen recommends is that of Alan Wolke, who will be our guest on the next episode of The Engineering Commons.
  • A shout-out to Brian and Morgan for commenting on the show notes for previous episodes.
  • Technicians, mechanics, and machinists can all be good sources of technical information.
  • Adam, Carmen and Jeff discuss the tension between a need to share engineering knowledge, and an employer’s need to retain proprietary information.

Thanks to Bobbi Newman for the image titled “graph.” Podcast theme music provided by Paul Stevenson