Joel Orr

Joel Orr Commentary: Thanksgiving
"What should I write about?" I asked my wife. "My Machine Design column is due." She suggested, "Why don't you write about what engineers should be thankful for? It's Thanksgiving, after all. And you can make it semi-humorous."So I sat down to do just that.
Joel Orr Commentary: The Long Tail in Engineering Software
Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of WIRED Magazine, was just named "Editor of the Year" by AdAge. A year ago, he wrote an article in WIRED called "The Long Tail," and has turned it into a book which will soon be out.What is "The Long Tail"? Without getting into heavy-duty statistics, it says that the Internet has killed Pareto.
Joel Orr Commentary: The Double Challenge of Innovation
The human psyche is leery of anything novel. We like what we're used to; we're suspicious of things that are not like what we already know.In The Secrets of Consulting, Jerry Weinberg points out that a consultant whose advice brings about an improvement of greater than 10% is unlikely to get invited back.
Joel Orr Commentary: Success is in your Mouth
"How did you think the meeting went?" I asked a colleague on his way out of a meeting with a sales prospect. "Oh, I had no real expectations. They probably can't do much, and I am not sure they understood what I told them. But who knows?""You sound pretty negative," I commented. "No," he said, "I'm just realistic. I'm negative by choice."
Joel Orr Commentary: A Step Up
I'm not an engineer; all my schooling was in math-and abstract math, at that. I've always been in awe of engineers and the engineering process, and have approached both with tremendous respect, as a willing student.
Joel Orr Commentary: Connecting the Pieces
Successful organizations have integrity. All their parts support each other toward a common goal. That makes them efficient, harmonious, and productive. Engineering professionals have tools to help ensure these qualities, but seldom apply them to organizations. Why? What can be done about it?
Joel Orr Commentary: The Real Engineering Process
I read about a nurse who gives talks in high schools and colleges about the importance of basic hygiene-washing your hands frequently, for example. She makes her point graphically: As the students enter the class, she introduces herself to each one and shakes their hand. What they don't know is that there is an invisible powder on her hand that glows under ultraviolet light.
Joel Orr Commentary: The Next Generation
COFES2005 - the sixth annual Conference on the Future of Engineering Software - just ended. I haven't had a chance to consolidate my notes or to summarize the many things I learned. But when I try to visualize the event as a whole, one happy thread runs through it: I picture the nine young people who served in various capacities and participated in some of the events
Who Do You Want to Be?
The nature of our relationship with the world in which we live is elusive. Sometimes we underestimate it, and feel powerless and ineffectual. Occasionally we overestimate it, and are brought up short by unexpected constraints. In large measure, to each of us this world is what we believe it to be. If we see it as a place of opportunity, of abundance, it is. Likewise, if the world is hostile in our minds, a place of adversity - then it is that.
The Engineer as Human Being
Some of my best friends are engineers. Four of my grandchildren either have, or are on their way to having, an engineering degree. I am not one, but have always admired engineers, and been drawn to the profession.After many years of figuring out what I do best - so I could decide what I wanted to be when I grew up - I think I've found my niche: I'm a helper.
Joel Orr commentary - Only Connect
The title exhortation seems particularly apt for engineering. You see, the engineering process, in rough terms, consists of the following steps:
Zoom! What was that?
Stuff always seems to be flying by. Email shows up at the top of the stack, pushing down the messages I've yet to attend to. Physical mail comes in. Someone calls and tells me something. I make a promise to do something by a certain date.
Joel Orr commentary: The Computer-Aided Engineer
To fear to face an issue is to believe the worst is true.— Ayn Rand
Joel Orr: Let the Computer Do More of It!
Last issue, I discussed how we are slowly (at least in comparison with Moore's Law) learning to use our personal computers for more than just the automation of manual tasks—that is, we have moved from "digital typewriter" to "desktop publisher" and from "digital calculator" to "spreadsheet." In engineering, the transition to "computer-aided design," and not just "computer-aided drafting" has been particularly long and slow.
Joel Orr: Let the Computer Do It!
Marshall McLuhan said that new media start out by imitating old media; for example, early movies were single-perspective motion pictures of stage plays. But, "new media are new languages having each its own grammar and esthetic modes."
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