Scientists, You got love them! | Cypress Semiconductor
Scientists, You got love them!
December 26, 2009
I had to share this far side cartoon I found the other day. What stuck me was that the scientists that I have worked with rarely made this connection. Engineers and scientists start together taking many of the same undergrad classes. I went to Berkeley were the Physics department used the last class in the two year intro series to weed out the non-Physics majors. What they didn’t seem to understand that 75% of us were Electrical Engineering majors. I even told the Professor that I promised to never to take an upper division class at Berkeley if he world just let me pass!
After undergrad many engineers go off for their apprenticeship. This is where you join a team of Engineers at your first company and you learn how to be an Engineer. This means learning from others and working in an environment that encourages new ideas. It also means getting chewed out for spending too much time bread boarding all 12 different ideas you came up with. A real engineer would have weeded that number down to the four most likely choices. (And you thought pulling an all-nighter was going to get you brownie points.)
Those that go for their doctorate spend their apprenticeship working for free their advisor. They are encouraged to do everything themselves so not to spend money. I was once on a research cruise where I was asked to quickly build a temperature-controlled heat chamber. I found 10,000 watts of light bulbs and connected them to a switch. I used a digital thermometer for feedback and a grad student as the control loop. This grad student was not really happy with this arrangement but hey; he’s a grad student. He can sleep when he dies. We could have brought two of them but we would have had to feed them half as much. Given the choice of food or sleep the grad student will always choose food.
Anyway, after spending a number of years in this environment they come to believe that time is not important. I saw a scientist have his technician strip co-axial cable to make grounding strap. I told the scientist that you could buy about 500 ft for 25 bucks. His response was, “I have to pay him anyway”.
Here is a good example. You need to order bolts for a cover plate. The engineer will see that 20 are needed and order two dozen. The scientist will ask his technician to count how many are needed and he responds with 20. He has him count again and gets the same answer. He then asks if they have any lying around and the technician comes back and says he found four. The scientist asks the technician how many they still need and he comes back and says they now need 16. The scientist then tells the technician to order a dozen and borrow four from someone else.
So maybe it would take a scientist the caliber of Einstein to determine that time is money