Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Behind every great invention there is a guy like me

Tonight I am covered in the grinding dust from working on an intermetalic ceramic. The company I work for came up with a bleeding edge design for a new type of armor. No, it isn't my project. I'm just the guy who is going to make the process work.

That means climbing up on a machine in and grinding away at an intermetalic ceramic held at 450 degrees Fahrenheit with a Dewalt 4 and a half inch grinder.

Why you ask? because someone else made a mistake.

The problem with new technology is that it is new and no one has ever done it before. This kind of technology takes teamwork between people with ideas and people like me with the experience to make those ideas work.

There are three kinds of people for the purposes of this blog. Stupid people who repeat their mistakes. Smart people who make mistakes and learn from them. Brilliant people who learn from the mistakes of others and apply that knowledge to their own lives.

I work with smart people that seem to love making their own mistakes and learning from them.

Even if I tell them why what they are doing won't work this technology is new and we don't know it won't work.

Yeah, well, there is that idea.

Thing is, just about every idea (including this one) is just improving on something else that someone else has done before and we can look at similar things that people have done before.

Here is an example.

There are a couple of popular manufacturers of kitchenware, Revereware and Farberware. These guys figured out a long time ago that they had to bond stainless with a heat conductive metal to provide a consistent heat on the bottom of their pans.

We built a hot plate for our new product from stainless and I tried to explain that we needed a conductor between the source and the stainless. Not that I am some doctor of engineering, but, I have cooked in an actual kitchen before.

Yeah, just because there are millions of hours of testing and proved processes does not mean that the information Revereware and Farberware worked out fifty years ago applies to what we are doing.

No one has ever done what we are doing before.

The difference is that I know I am not any smarter than the last thousand people before me even though I have a genius IQ and some of the people I work with think they are.

Oh well, soon I will be grinding again and this will eventually work and the world will be a better place because of it.

Because of some guy like me who can apply knowledge and is willing to make it work.

Not that guys like me ever become the hero and that is okay. In the end it means more that I solved problems that made things work than it means to get the credit.

The credit is in the accomplishment, not the recognition.

Still, I wish people would stop and remember that they are not really any smarter than the last thousand people before them. It would make life easier for everyone.

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