I grew up in Finland and got my engineer’s training there. It was 90’s during the years of bad economic slump, which started back in -89 and lasted through a decade. My school was Helsinki Institute of Technology, very proud but old fashioned school.
This and the bad economic situation made the development of training methods slow. To be honest, many of the methods were truly out-dated. Professors were mainly using over-head projectors and blackboards. And we, students, were writing pencils smoking, studying long days and plugging during nights and weekends.
There were practically no jobs for students in Finland, but somehow I managed to get international exchange jobs through IAESTE in Denmark and in Slovakia. I was really lucky, but behind the luck, also did a lot of work to earn it. That seems to be my nature, to do lot of work. Or maybe it is related to my generation? (Do you hear The Rolling Stones?)
APPROXIMATION – ENGINEER’S HUNTCH
The most valuable lesson learned in this school was to think like engineer: First you have an approximation in your mind. This will give you a rough-scale expectation of the solution, that you can use for the start of the design work. The “engineer’s huntch”, the approximation, is acting like a compass.
It guides the design into the correct direction and then design process becomes the result provider. Finally, you end up knowing if your approximation was right or wrong. But you will have a result, which is designed for the purpose.
In my case, THE HUNCH is assembled from the puzzle pieces of information that I have learned, guided by the gut feeling of expected outcome. Engineer’s mind selects the meaningful pieces and put aside the non-important elements. “The answer” does not come immediately to me, it takes time. But before “the answer” is ready, I cannot move ahead. The direction is not ready. The most important moment of design process is to receive “the answer”. Like saying: “I have seen the light!”.
I believe that this capability of seeing the answer is what all the humanists in us, in engineers. In our mind, we jump directly into the seeking of end result and do not see very many flexible ways to get there.
Part of being a good engineer, is to learn to allow imagination. I would even say: “Design is engineering with imagination as a spice.”
Above learning is not from the school, but from my roots. In my family, I am surrounded by artists, so my nature fits very poorly to engineering. I struggle every day to stick in the topic and keep it simple. Too much imagination is not a design, it is a form of art.
GREEN ELECTRICAL DESIGN?
This free mind brings us to the modern era. Such described learning methods from my school are not considered modern anymore. Now you “group-work” and “influence”. You use “”- brackets for everything that is partially true. Everybody wants to be a designer and put in their fingerprint.
Once energy has become green, it also has lifted up the electrical design into same category as interior design. It is in fashion. Everybody has their opinion on that. What I have noticed on the area of electrical design, the simplicity is no longer a valuable goal.
More valuable is to show out mistake-less energy friendliness. What used to be a relay, is now #relay or something else similar buried into the software and the method has become more important than the result. Am I wrong? I hope I am wrong.
There must be somewhere a room for electrical engineer, who could help with his approximation. Someone who knows what is needed to get to “the answer” and how you do it. Take out the excess imagination, take out for example solar panels and windmills from every possible concept and use them where it makes sense.
Focus on meaningful elements and optimize those for the best possible overall efficiency. Then you are close. Then you are designing. Then you can add your imagination as a spice on top.
ACCURACY TO THE FIRST DECIMAL
Am I wrong to say that instead of Made in Europe, we should say how the design was made; Designed-with-Google or Real-engineer used? How about this: “Handmade approximate calculation made with pen & paper. Accuracy to the first decimal.”?
And one more, old school: ” Delivered without software!”
Now when summer has finally started I would like to wish you all relaxing and sunny summer time.
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