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How To Become An Expert

DrD

14,852 views

   

Mechanics Corner
    A Journal of Applied Mechanics and Mathematics by DrD
    © Machinery Dynamics Research, 2016


How To Become An Expert

    

Introduction

    This is going to be another of those personal experience/opinion pieces, so if these bore you, be warned! This may be the time to click on something else.
    A reader recently wrote to me asking how to become an expert. I have to tell you, I don't spend much time thinking about being an expert, but I suppose on some reflection, the shoe probably fits. (Most of the time, I see myself as simply a tired old man, still enjoying the things I have done almost all my working life.) In the discussion below, I will describe a few events and observations that seem to relate to the question at hand.

Find Your Place

    Nobody can hope to be an expert on everything, there is simply too much to know. You have to find the area that excites you, the area that really makes you want to dig in more. If you do not really enjoy it, you will never be an expert!
    I was very fortunate in this regard. When I was in High School, I was rather good in Mathematics, and my school advisers all told me, "You should become an engineer." Sadly, I really had no idea what that meant, and neither did they. The town where I grew up had rather little industry, and no one in my family knew an engineer of any sort. I did a little bit of research on engineering (this was thousands of years before the Internet), and it sounded interesting in a very vague way; there seemed to be little specific information available to me. But I went off to college, intending to study mechanical engineering, whatever that was.
    In my first semester of college, I took a Physics course in classical mechanics, and I really enjoyed it. This was exactly what I wanted to do, I just did not know the right name for it. I thought Newton's Second Law was the greatest thing ever discovered, and when implemented with Calculus, it was really fun. I was astounded at the power of it all, the questions that could be answered. If I could just get a job doing mechanics problems, I was sure I would be happy.

HowToBecomeAnExpert.pdf



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Along with advice on being an expert there are some valuable life lessons. We are lucky others are willing to share. When I was studying for my BSME the Industrial Engineering Dept had only two professors. They were always trying to recruit ME's to IE. Thermodynamics was there scare point. I am glad I was smart enough to get through thermo and see the sales pitch for what it was.

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Thanks for the comment JAG.

At one point, when I was working in an industrial job, my Dad (who was an accountant and knew little or nothing about engineering) referred to me as an "industrial engineer." I immediately tried to set him straight, but it was difficult. To him, the term seemed to fit, so he could not understand my objection.

DrD

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Thanks DrD and that is what I am looking for since long time > 

I have a question : 

I am frishman student and I want to major in ME but I am afraid because I didn't do well in the physic courses  however I understand the principles but I didn't get a good grade in the exams  .Also does it indicate I will failure in ME by the way I did very well in calculus.

I hope you reply as soon as possible

best regard     

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?mc_cid=e60c252503&mc_eid=%5bUNIQID

I am not suggesting engineers become welders or drop out of college because of this video. I think the information this man offers parallels some of what DrD touched on. Some of what the video addresses affected me during my career. There are many dictators as defined in the video. You don't need to be one. This video could have easily fit my blog but I thought it complemented DrD's material very well. That it does not address engineering emphasizes how universal DrD's advice is.

http://welding-tv.com/video-of-the-week/?mc_cid=e60c252503&mc_eid=%5bUNIQID

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Hi DrD,

Thank you for sharing your experiences, very interesting!

I couldn't help but notice that some of your experiences and lessons you learnt have a sense of irony in relation to why your technical posts don't receive as much attention/comment as posts such as this one. It must have been fascinating seeing the changes in engineering and how the world utilizes machines today compared to your early working days.

I know you said that he bores you, but I appreciate one thing Einstein supposedly said "if you cant explain it simply to someone, then you don't know enough about it".

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Dear Novak,

You said that this blog is really motivating, and I certainly hope that is true. That is the purpose for it all.

Dear Ryan,

Thanks for your comment. I did not mean that Einstein, the man, bores me; it is only the theory of relativity that bores me. My favorite Einstein quote is (quoted only roughly): "Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is the definition of insanity." It is particularly applicable to government "solutions."

DrD

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Hey Dr. D,

What an amazing article Dr. D . You know I have always been soo curious to know what exactly entertains me. On a quest to search my area of interest in mechanical engineering, I keep on learning new courses very excitedly but in the end I manage to understand all of them.

 This makes very difficult for me to know what I really want..any tips for knowing what interests me a lot??

 Your comment on this could help me a lot..Thanks a lot I read your articles on regular basis and it helps me a lot..

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Dear Chintan,

Just the fact that you understand the material of a course does not mean that is not your area of interest. In the class, you certainly did not learn all that there is to know about that subject. You may well enjoy learning more, much more, about that topic.

If you re-read the article above, notice what I said about the first course I took in classical mechanics. I enjoyed the course, I understood the material and it made sense to me. I was impressed with the power that this study promised. But, and this is big, in that class, I most certainly did not work all of the problems of interest. In fact, I barely scratched the surface. I have been at it almost 60 years since that first class, and I'm still finding very interesting problems to work on.

The same thing can be true for you. If you understand something, look for ways to apply it, ways to expand what you initially understand, and most importantly, look for where this knowledge can be useful.

DrD

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Hi DrD,

I am new to this blog and this is my second read. It is really motivating.

 

On 4/25/2016 at 11:47 PM, DrD said:

 If you understand something, look for ways to apply it, ways to expand what you initially understand, and most importantly, look for where this knowledge can be useful.

And surprisingly enough i too am finding ways to apply what i know or what i can understand fully. But, how to do that?

Can you suggest some ways of applying that knowledge to practical use? And preferably in mechanics.

Your advice would really help.

Thank you

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Oh, my! What a question!

When you go to open a door, where to you grab the door -- on the edge with the hinges, or the opposite edge?

You always grab the edge opposite the hinges, but why? You do this because this way you have the mechanical advantage that comes from using the width of the door as a lever. If you grab the edge with the hinges, you will have to exert a significant moment with your fingers, a very difficult thing to do.

Do you ride a bicycle? Why is the front spocket bigger than the rear sprocket?

Do you drive a car? Do you realize that the engine (gasoline or diesel) involves several slider-crank mechanisms? What happens if you try to rev the car engine to 15000 rpm? Why?

Applications of mechanics are all around us in everyday life. Think about what you are doing and why. Think about what you see others doing and why they do what they do.

DrD

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DrD,

Your explanation is right but i'm asking for -how to develop that 'thinking' which can replace any existing mechanism for something with a better one? I mean the applications all around us (like those slide crank mechanism) took a lot of years to develop, and surely there is a chance of betterment.

My cousin who is an inventor told me that he tries to link any concept that he learns with a gadget or machine that he can make or improve. I tried to to do that but when i look for ways.........my mind becomes kind of empty.....blank!

It will be helpful if you suggest me ways that can help me get along that direction.

 

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3 hours ago, Sangeet Bhattacharya said:

Your explanation is right but i'm asking for -how to develop that 'thinking' which can replace any existing mechanism for something with a better one? I mean the applications all around us (like those slide crank mechanism) took a lot of years to develop, and surely there is a chance of betterment.

On the contrary, the long years of development suggest that this may be very nearly the best possible. If it were easy to make an improvement, it would have been done years ago. The fact that the slider-crank is essentially the same today as it was 1000 years ago suggests it will be heard to improve. Now, that does not mean we cannot look for better ways. Recall the Wankel rotary engine; that was thought to be an improvement, particularly with regard to vibration. If it was really an overall improvement, companies would flock to using it, wouldn't they? How many build Wankel engines today? Not many, if any. Maybe it was not an overall improvement after all. This does not mean we cannot look for better, but we should not expect improvement to come readily.

Let me give you another example. Consider a simple door hinge, the sort with a very visible hinge pin. There are hinges available today that are completely invisible when the door is closed. They are based usually on the use of a four-bar linkage, but they are expensive to make, and much more difficult to install. Is this an improvement? How much more are you willing to pay for invisibility? Not everyone agrees what is an improvement.

I think you are looking for the wrong idea, when you talk about thinking that can replace any existing mechanism with something better. For now, I would advise you to simply learn how things work and look for connection between ideas and applications.

DrD

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Thanks DrD for such great contribution from your wealth of experience. I'm a mechanical engineer trying to move my career forward. I think this is just for me. Thanks again 

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