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What First Inspired You?

Posted October 22, 2009 8:17 AM

What piqued your interest in putting things together or taking them apart? Was it the same interest that pointed you towards engineering? Perhaps it was Lincoln Logs, Lego blocks, or an older Erector Set. But many engineers were inspired to pursue a technical career by a toy they loved as a child. Was this your case? Or was it your first car, and the repairs that it needed? Did a toy lead to your career choice?

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#1

Re: What First Inspired You?

10/22/2009 10:50 PM

My Dad! He was a carpenter, oil well roughneck and all around mechanic.

He had a very well stocked workbench in the basement, it pretty much became my toy chest. Watching him work made me very courious on figuring how things work, how to take it apart and put it back together.

I guess it stuck with me, I have been repairing laboratory equipment (blood analyzers) for over 30 years. Continually learning how to fix and re-build.

Thanks Dad for lighting a spark!! At his funeral, I slipped a wrench in his suit pocket as thanks for what he gave me.

ss

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#2
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Re: What First Inspired You?

10/22/2009 11:40 PM

Touching... and warm...SS's story:-)

I also was inspired by my father. He is a worker of hydraulic pumps factory. When I was very very young, my family is not rich, he always scrawl on the paper for me... drawing buses, trucks, cars, ships, tanks, trains, crane, planes, helicopters, rockets and so on. He really stimulated my curiosity and I eager to watch them by myself. So when he went out with me, I'd like to see kinds of cars, see the railway, see the ships, see the tuunels, see the bridges, see the elevators... all of these engineering miracles. And then my family's income improved, my parents bought me a lot of picture books, children's science books and toys, like erector sets, toy railway sets, toy boats... I always loved to play, but it's not cheap for battery :-)

In those years, I was always wondering why my dad knows so much, I want to get knowledge as much as his. He is my pattern.

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#7
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Re: What First Inspired You?

10/23/2009 5:28 AM

Nice story...brought a lump to my throat.
I think being a good Dad is a big part of being a real man.
When I was 16 and bought an old Vespa scooter, my Dad made me take it right down, every last nut and bolt even took out the wiring harness, that way he knew I'd have a safe vehicle once we'd rebuilt it, that was my best ever time with my Dad...I had to keep pestering him to show me how to do stuff, but I learned just about every trick in the book on that job, he's in his 80's now and doesn't do much.
Del

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#18
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Re: What First Inspired You?

12/28/2009 5:27 AM

I COULD NEVER STAND NOT KNOWING. WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND HOW ANYONE CAN WORK WITH ANYTHING AND NOT WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT IT. REFRIGERATION, COOLING HEATING, ONCE YOU UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING THE ONLY JOY IS TROUBLESHOOTING. PNEUMATIC CONTROLS AND DDC WERE JUST A NATURAL EXTENSION. FOR THE LAST 7 YEARS I HAVE HAD THE URGE TO MANUFACTURE REPLACEMENT WSHP'S STACK UNITS. I FEEL LIKE ENGINEERING THE PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION IS THE "FINAL FRONTIER". I BUILT MY SERVICE AND CONTROLS BUSINESS FROM SCRATCH AND AM FRUSTRATED THAT I CAN'T FIND SOMEONE TO TAKE IT OVER AND CARRY ON MY BABY. TO DREAM OF A PLAN AND MAKE IT REALITY IS WHAT MY LIFE IS ALL ABOUT. AT 60 I JUST WANT TO DO IT ONE MORE TIME.

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#3

Re: What First Inspired You?

10/23/2009 1:45 AM

Helping my dad to get things done and keep the machines we had operting in good shape.

Then it was mowing the Grave Yards I contracted to mow at 12 years old and keeping my push mowers running. I push mowed 3 Grave Yards all the way thru high school. Needless to say I was working all summer from daylight to dark.

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#4

Re: What First Inspired You?

10/23/2009 1:46 AM

Looking back I'd say my early toys were more a symptom than a cause. I'm not sure they indicated much more than a tendency toward creativity. Family influence didn't do much beyond my Mom's patience and tolerance with the HO trains. (My Dad died when I was 11.) I really liked building stuff, but only because that was the way I could get things that were otherwise out of my reach.

I applied to engineering schools because I was good in math and science and that was the natural direction to take. Suited me just fine because that stuff was easy. I hated English and literature and felt as though there was a special place in Hell for poets for the suffering they caused me. When I applied to the colleges I listed chemical engineering because high school chemistry was really interesting even though the chemistry teacher didn't like me. I think it was because of the questions I asked and how I behaved in his chemistry lab to the point of his refusing to nominate me for the state science day competitions.

Over the summer between high school and college I got interested in cars, packed up the HO trains and when I arrived at college promptly changed my curriculum to mechanical engineering. I was interested in cars and so naturally mechanical engineering was a means to that end. I think it was the car thing that really influenced me. Been that way 50 years now. I'm not sure whether that was good or bad. Just the way it was.

Did I love my engineeering career? Some of the time when I was actually able to actually accomplish something. Most of the time it was watching the clock till quitting time while I tried to wind my way through the fog of incomprehensible corporate behavior. But it paid well and I usually had enough money to raise a family, keep my marriage together and still be able to buy tools and build my hot rods.

And I came to love mechanical engineering and would do it all over again...... except for the part where I let myself be pushed around by self serving fools.

Ed Weldon

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#5

Re: What First Inspired You?

10/23/2009 1:56 AM

During a school science fair I was in charge of a stall where I had to demonstrte gyroscopes. Got so absorbed in the things that I ignored quite a few visitors.

My grand father had seven bicycles with only about ten wheels to go with them. Keeping at least a few in working condition used to be a major challenge. Greasy hands and smudged face were the rule rather than an exception. Disapproval of the mother and grand mother were added attractions.

So on to engineering.

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#6

Re: What First Inspired You?

10/23/2009 4:43 AM

A yellow plastic mechanised toy bulldozer at the age of 7. Took it apart and was fascinated how a battery could move all those parts. Started taking everything apart from then and built my own gadgets. Funny, I'm still doing that

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#8

Re: What First Inspired You?

10/23/2009 7:41 AM

Tinker Toys

Basically a wooden Meccano set. Check the link out. Built a suspension bridge out of them when I was 10 and won the 5th grade science fair. My bridge was able to hold 11 pounds before it broke. Plus, I grew up watching Neil Armstrong land on the moon when I was 6. I was hooked for life after that.

http://images.google.ca/images?hl=en&source=hp&q=tinker+toys&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=npPhSsGqA46Y8AbukNXyAQ&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=4&ved=0CB8QsAQwAw

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#9
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Re: What First Inspired You?

10/23/2009 9:00 AM

Magnets realy sparked my curiousity like nothing else. I was in 3rd grade and had an idea for a hover car. In my mind it would work and that was the best when you didnt have to worry about details.. I drew up plans on a sheet of tracing paper showing solar panels and a dc wiring system along with a control panel. My thinking was that all roads would be covered with magnets and the car would also have e-magnets to lift and propel it. I look back on it now and I have no idea how I understood what I did at that age. My friends father worked for Nasa and looked at it and then showed me what a mag lev train was. I was supprised to see that something worked a little bit like my idea. Before that I took apart my parents lawnmower not because it had anything wrong with it but I really wanted to see how it worked. Well it didnt work so well untill I took it apart again and put it back together a few months later. My parents werent too happy and the lawn got a bit overgrown. In 3rd grade I also started in inventors club and our goal was to invent a real hoverboard like I saw in "Back to the Future". I had no idea what laws of physics were but that didnt stop me from trying. Later I went on to build and restore my own 76 Ford Ranchero at age 16 and build a mini-bike when I was 13. Ever since the inventors club I havent stopped coming up with ideas for everything I am envolved in. The funny thing is that I am the only one in my house growing up with a mechanical and engineering mind. My grandpa was very technical but I never really saw him much. A mechanical imagination was one of the best traits I developed and it is really the reason I am where I am today. I have the ability to go back and live my childhood and adult dreams of inventing and designing however I choose (as long as my boss likes the ideas)... This was a great question to ask. Reading the other posts brough back a lot of memories.

Anyone think the LHC will lend me some super conducting magnets for my Hover car....lol

Brian220x

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#10

Re: What First Inspired You?

10/23/2009 9:03 AM

My dad was very smart, but not much of a craftsman. It was my mother who got me interested in building things. She would go to the clock shop and they would give her junk clocks for me to take apart and reassemble ( I usually had left-over pieces). Pick-up sticks were great for building eye-hand coordination. My dad was kind of an aristocrat and hired mechanics to fix his cars. So he was disappointed when I showed interest in taking my vehicles apart and putting them back together.

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#11

Re: What First Inspired You?

10/23/2009 11:20 AM

Howdy All!!!!

It was my dad who started me into tinkering around with things, that eventually lead me into engineering. Originally, since I was a little kid I wanted to become an Architect, but that's another story.....

So, for starters this is how I became an engineer: When I was 5 years old my dad gave me an Aurora F-102 Delta Dagger plastic model kit as a present when he returned home from his first tour of duty with the US Army in Viet Nam as an adviser. That was 1963. Sorry, I'm dating myself here.

Anyhow, that started a whole bunch of breaking apart things to see how they worked, ummmmm "tinkered", including receiving from my Grandpa two years later my dad's old Erector Sets that he had as a kid. Of course, my dad objected very verbally to Grandpa about bringing them to the house, because he predicted correctly that I'd tear apart the entire 2 sets and ruin them!!! Boy, was he right on the mark!!! Hey, my younger brother helped also!!! He has ended up becoming an engineer as well (Chemical Eng. & Mechanical Eng.)!

Today, some 46 years later (with a roughly 25 years hiatus from the hobby), I still build historically correct scaled plastic airplane model kits, mostly military, striving to build them to museum quality. Additionally, I'm a long standing member of a local International Plastic Modeler Society (IPMS) club and try to be active when I can.

In fact for those who may be interested, our model club is holding it's annual plastic modeling show and contest tomorrow, October 24th, so if you're in the Poughkeepsie New York area, or thereabouts, why not stop by and check everything out. Who knows, you may get hooked on the hobby!!!!! BTW, if you do come, just ask for Mark M. and say hello...there's only 2 of us Marks' in the club, so I'll be easy to locate. I'll be more than happy to show you around and introduce you to some of our members who area bunch of great guys and gals!!!!

Here's the link to our IPMS club with all the show and contest info, if you're interested:

www.hvhmg.com

Just click on the appropriate show links, and you find everything you need to know about the show, including driving directions on how to get to it. Any questions, just email our club or myself, okay????

Also, I am tinkering with building my DIY Solar Thermal system for heating the house and DHW, as well as designing and fabricating a 2-story structural steel tool shed/storage building to be built out of surplus steel wall studs. Of course I had to "reverse engineer' and employ a FEA structural analysis program to arrive at final configuration of the roof trusses that will be comprised of a built-up structural members. Eventually, the tool shed roof will be used to mount the solar thermal energy collector tubes on the roof....

....that's just a couple of "Big Boy Toy" projects going on around here....next year I'll hopefully be building a 2 KW Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) if the Mrs. gives her blessing! *LOL*

Tinker on man!!!!! Oktoberfest Beers & Cheers to everyone!!!!! ***GRINZZZ***

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#12

Re: What First Inspired You?

10/23/2009 11:25 AM

I tried to do my own lamp wiring at age 7. I usually took apart my toys with the limited tools I had at my reach. My dad has a PhD in Education and my mom has a Masters in the same area so I really donĀ“t know where I got it from.

Thought of becoming a Doctor, but my calling was to operate machines and not people. Liked to reason alot. In the third grade did half of the exercises in my math book, because I could do them and wanted to do them not because I had to do them.

The only other part I am missing and hope to do later on is study Math as a major and become a teacher.

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#13

Re: What First Inspired You?

10/24/2009 6:16 AM

Born that way. My mother has told me numerous times that I never had any toys because as soon as she gave me something, I would take it apart to see how it worked.

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#14
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Re: What First Inspired You?

10/24/2009 11:09 AM

Starting to sound like Dilbert - and The Knack!

Watch this You Tube video!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmYDgncMhXw

As I said earlier, thanks to Dad, but do think some of this came naturally (and still does! I do a lot of things - hardware/software - without any training!)

The Knack, stronger than The Force??

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#15
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Re: What First Inspired You?

10/24/2009 12:00 PM

Great clip, I'd not seen that one

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#17
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Re: What First Inspired You?

11/25/2009 12:14 PM

You stole my punch line. After reading all the post on this subject, I came to the same conclusion as you. "I was born that way" it came natural to me and I had to fix it myself. There were a number of other factors that pointed me in that direction. Just being poor was one and without the guidance of a father was another big factor.

Was always fixing my 32 Ford coupe (wish I still had it). Navy sent me to Machinist mate school and on to a career in refrigeration /air condition.

Of all the things I did, commercial fishing that was the most demanding. I learned to get involved with every aspect. I designed refrigeration systems for boats. Applied for three patents for trailer wheels and one for pre- spinning aircraft wheels.

At present, I rebuild Volvo Penta marine transmissions as a retired hobby. I also fight the US dysfunctional patent office (another story).

Take care

Del

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#16

Re: What First Inspired You?

10/25/2009 9:08 AM

My dad has less than zero engineering skills. If truth be told, my biggest inspirations were:

1) Batman - the 1960s TV series

2) The space program - 1960s era.

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