Is understanding the physical world an Engineer’s curse? Do those of us that are not Engineers still have a need to understand how things are produced? I don’t think this generally extends past the male of the species, I don’t mean this in an offensive way it’s just that in my experience women just accept that something is there but men like to know why or how. As an example of my theory imagine a couple describe a broken down car, the man will say that ‘the engine stalled like there was no fuel’ and the woman will say ‘it just stopped’.
If we dig further its probably the same in men, so your male hairdresser will say ‘it just stopped’, your postman will say ‘I think it ran out of petrol’ and your Engineer will say ‘I think No 2 spark is shorting when its wet’. Of course the real difference is that its probably only the Engineer who will want to observe the entire repair in order to understand what happened.
Now one of the industries that I have spent time in is FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) which broadly speaking is everything that you have to sell 100 pieces of to make a penny! One of the items in the group, the one I spent time in, is food. So I am experienced with glass, cardboard cartons, plastic bottles, shrink wrap, boxes and the like or more accurately I am experienced assembling and filling these devices. I know, for example, that small cartons of juice are produced by forming a tube and filling it with juice before pairs of jaws that incorporate twin high voltage heating strips and a central cutter cut, seal and crimp the ends.
This evening I had a snack of some raisins and then the Engineer’s curse struck, I found myself looking at the seals and working out how they could be achieved most efficiently, I checked for the oversize e that means the product is subject to average weight legislation. I looked at the alignment of edges to see which bond was applied first (side) and then looked for the tell tale open end that occurs when you use the tube feed method.
There was a date ink jet marked onto the pack and this led me to consider the marvel of high speed inkjet printing, you charge the ink molecules and use 50 KV plates to direct individual molecules of ink out of the stream to the opening.
So the Engineer’s curse, a packet of raisins takes longer to dissect and reverse engineer than it does to eat!