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Diatribes: Engineering’s Little Secret

By Anthony J. Lockwood

Tony Lockwood

But, 100 it is. What does that say about DE? And what does it say about engineering? For a bit of perspective, I gave issue number 1 a read.

The cover story, “Your Changing Desktop,” whacked me in the kisser. “Micros have forever changed engineering. But the big changes have just begun,” the teaser cried. In it, we asked principal engineers and project managers at a number of companies about technology and their guesses on future trends—all the way out to 1997.

Leaping loomings, Pal, back in the summer of ’95 their tomorrow talk was the stuff we take for granted today: real-time collaboration, integrated MCAD/CAM/CAE, finite element analysis of multiple physical phenomena, and high-performance graphics leading to 3D solid modeling—all on desktop computers.

Another article explained how virtual instruments transposed the functionality of stand-alone instruments on to a desktop computer. A follow-up review—yes, we’ve been sticking our necks out on product reviews from the get-go—showed you how to build a virtual oscilloscope with LabVIEW.

The last article from that first issue I’ll mention hit engineering where it parties: serious work for serious fun. “Using CAD to Design Whitewater Rafts” told how a design team used CADKEY (now Kubotek; website) to shave time and toil away from their project. Many of you wrote us to say you admired an engineering magazine that would run an article about designing something with a fun purpose instead of yet another article on ADW (another dull widget) design.

Your response to the Whitewater article told us our approach was right: Engineering Is Fun. And fun is why you love digging into your toolset and grabbing a different whatsit just to see what it does in this situation. Fun is the “hey, that worked” moment that makes a frustrating day at the salt mine a pretty good one after all. Fun is the little secret of engineering that self-important engineering magazines—I mean journals—and many managers do not get and will never understand.

Fun is why issue number 100 caught me unaware. It’s fun seeing and reporting on all these emerging tools. It’s fun yakking about Inventor with Buzz Cross at Autodesk. It’s fun getting Jim Spann of Blue Ridge Numerics to demonstrate CFdesign. It’s fun poking the innards of the next generation engineering workstation with a couple of engineers from Dell or HP. It’s fun meeting you at COE.

So, thanks, Pal. Thank you for letting me share the fun with you for the past 100 issues. Look for more in the next 100 issues—if they don’t fire me for having too much fun.

About Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Desktop Engineering's Editor-at-Large. Contact him via de-editors@deskeng.com.
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