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What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

Posted May 23, 2010 7:54 AM

Many engineers were inspired to pursue technical careers by toys such as a Meccano/Erector set, Tinkertoys, or Legos. Was this the case for you? What particular hobby, plaything, or event spurred you to take up technology as a profession?

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#1

Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/24/2010 4:38 AM

Yes true for me, Meccano, model trains, and growing up as an army kid surrounded by advanced equipment.

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#2

Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/24/2010 6:05 AM

Maybe the 50s was just the right time...there was plenty of stuff happening and science and engineering was seen as exciting.
We had meccano and lived in Rugby a big rail junction, thos steam engines still stir the emotions.
But if I had to choose one 'toy' it would be Plasticine.
I made everything from knights in armour with dragons to fight of course... to submarines... I sent some intrepid woodlice to the bottom of our garden pond, they returned safely too.
I think plasticine is wonderful for manual dexterity and free expression of both artistic and engineering ideas...Ok for some engineering you needed to put it in the fridge to get the required rigidity!
Del

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#3

Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/24/2010 8:04 AM

Watching Neil Armstrong take that giant leap for mankind when I was three was a big part of it. That and the fact that my dad was a mechanic and I grew up under the hood of a car. Some of my first toys were real wrenches and tools. I took everything apart as a kid, rarely got it back together again because most stuff was riveted and not intended to come apart.....

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#4

Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/24/2010 8:43 AM

My father was a non-mechanical who tried to fix my favorite toy airplane and couldn't put it back together, (when I was 6 yrs old). It inspired me to try and figure out how to fix things on my own.

When I was 11, I asked my Dad how a carburetor worked. He said, "It's black magic, Son." I still have the drawings I made back then as I taught myself about jets and needle valves.

Natural inquisitiveness, the lack of someone to do things for me, and steady background radiation from Dr Who and Star Trek I think may have put me on the path.

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#5
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Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/24/2010 9:03 AM

My father was also not very technical but would try to fix almost anything. My grandpa on the other hand was very technical and taught my mom how a jeep worked by having her help take the entire thing apart and put it back together. The first thing that sparked my technical curiosity is magnets. I was fascinated by the invisible force and thought up all kinds of crazy ideas that looked very cool but being in 3rd grade I lacked the knowledge of physics. I even formed an invention club that was based on ideas of the hover board from back to the future. I was told by an older kid that hover boards were real so I just assumed that I needed to find out how they worked and I could build a hover car. I literally have a few hundred inventions in a folder from the last 22 years or so of ideas. Some of the early ones are of course not feasible but some were. Now I get to invent for a living. I couldn't have hoped for a better job. Engineering is the best field of work for anyone with a creative technical mind.

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#6
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Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/24/2010 12:27 PM

Nice story...hopefully your Dad made up for being mechanically inept in other ways.
Del

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#7
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Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/24/2010 12:37 PM

As I am sure you are well aware Del, there is much more to life than being mechanical. My old man was generally a good guy, and is well missed by many.

Conversely, I have the ability to put things back together in the proper order without any of his ability to remain liked, despite deep personal flaws.

Helluva trade.

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#19
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Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/26/2010 7:40 AM

From my observation, it seems that the two are often mutually exclusive...

Good to see you again.

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#8

Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/24/2010 1:56 PM

My Dad was an electrical engineer who could design, build and repair anything. There is a wall on a main road in Dover where he lived in the late 60's, early 70's, he made a mold, made the stones out of cement in the mold, then he built the wall, just for fun.....I still look at it every time I drive off the ferry and drive towards Folkstone.....the wall has developed a crack due to the heavy transport moving along there, but otherwise its in a good state.

He brought me a big cardboard box home for Christmas 1950 or '51, in it was colored wire, switches, lamps and a battery........that started me off!! I was 4 or 5 at the time.....

In 1955 I built a single channel Radio Control system, transmitter & receiver from two kits I bought with money saved.........valves and HT batteries.....but it worked great!

I built a proper analog RC system, still using the same transmitter, fully proportional in the early '60s, when the MAT100 and 101 transistors you had to test each one to see that it worked at 27Mhz, not all did.....there was only one Analog proportional system as far as I am aware, published by RCM&E magazine, 1963? or thereabouts. It had features that only recently digital RC has got!!!

In the RN, amongst many other things, I also built a single channel Oscilloscope, mostly with valves, only the calibrator was transistors!!! A multi band Superhet radio.....

I have also built dozens of different metal detectors, battery chargers, radar detectors, radar guns,and and and and.....today I build my own stepper motor drivers for a CNC router.....PC interfaces and the like......thze list is very long.....

But all because of that cardboard box from Dad.........my Mother was apalled that it was my Christmas present!!!! I wasn't!!

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#20
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Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/26/2010 7:49 AM

Mwaaahhhh!!!

I was about 9 or 10 when I asked for one of those for my birthday and a similar chemistry set for Christmas...was told no. Asked to buy them from my birthday money (we didn't get pocket money) and was told no.

Still makes me to think about it....

I did have sticklebricks and a clockwork trian set. I designed (age 13) a cage to hold my caterpillars as they were growing (I always released the butterflies) and it's just occurred to me that I never considered that I might build it - that was Dad's job and I wouldn't have been allowed. It worked wonderfuly...

I scared my Dad when I was about 25 when we were changing the back brakes on my Astra. He'd walked to the shop to get new brake shoes and when he came back was greeted by the sight of his daughter (with eye protection!) grinding the lip off the drums. He admitted he was terrified when he spotted me - but did say I done a good job. I'd worked in a shipyard and been to uni by this time...

Where's that gender attitude thread...

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#23
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Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/26/2010 11:56 AM

A GA from me for many reasons, here are a few:-

1) Many men don't know about that and do a bad job on the brakes.....

2) Women should "get stuck in more" on such jobs, there are no reasons not to

3) I was always for women's rights, its your right as a woman to do such things if you wish to.

4) I have two daughters, although they don't get as "stuck in" as you do apparently, the elder leaves her Bank colleagues breathless quite often....and when her family gets born, she will be the one that goes back to work, not her husband....as she earns twice his salary!!!

More power to your elbow lady!!!! and how about some other tales from the book "Scaring Dad by loving Daughter!"? From other Ladies here as well!!! Or their proud men folk?

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#9

Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/24/2010 2:44 PM

The absence of a telly was one thing. I'm not that old, but the folks simply didn't like the 'one-eyed monster' (shaddup - my grandpa said that, and he didn't mean it that way). Going out, playing games, discovering stuff was all part of it. No playstation type games was also part. Found a fossil one day and a neighbour (who happened to be a very highly qualified guy) explained to me what it was. The time scale left me jaw-dropped, and an avid reader of stuff like National Geographic.

Was also a time when if something broke, you had to fix it because you couldn't aford to buy new.

Devising ways for Action Man to get bad with sisters Cindy was no samll part (shaddu...).

One last tuppence; turn on the telly today and compare with what you might have found 50 years ago. Endles dross, where once it was all news and educational stuff (though Z-Cars doe still water the eyes )

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#10

Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/24/2010 7:00 PM

Meccano (red & green, starting with #6 and going to #9)for mechanical gadgets and steam locomotives as a self-taught introduction to thermodynamics

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#11
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Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/24/2010 7:45 PM

If you are not a Brit, I'll eat my shorts and everybody elses !

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#12
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Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/25/2010 2:19 AM

Here's a pic of him and his sauce of inspiration.

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#13
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Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/25/2010 2:40 AM

Noooo, that's so wrong. Plain old red ketchup. Salt & vinegar is a must. HP is good on a bacon butty, but they make so many flavours now it's confoozing. Aldi flog some sort of guacamole spread now - it's absolutely yummy on the bacon. Finding an avacado at the right stage of ripeness is almost impossible, so this stuff gets my 5-star vote. Any excuse

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#14
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Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/25/2010 2:46 AM

Oooh you're so 80's...
I expect you're pining for .... They've killed the bloody Quatro...they were on s'posed to blow the bloody doors off.
Del

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#15
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Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/25/2010 2:54 AM

He never said that thing about the spears

oh, my tummy feels a little itchy. I isn't 80's

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#16
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Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/25/2010 7:55 AM

Del, I think I now understand your inspiration...

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#17
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Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/25/2010 12:35 PM

Inspired to what? I am only new to archery, but I think her handicap may be rather large.

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#18
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Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/25/2010 1:05 PM

Certainly needs one of these prob in XXL.
Del

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#21
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Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/26/2010 7:56 AM

Or make like an Amazon?

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#22
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Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

05/26/2010 10:04 AM

Goodness NO! That would throw her balance completely off!

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#24

Re: What Was Your Source of Inspiration?

07/01/2010 6:28 PM

Growing up on a farm in the Willamette Swamp kinda forced me to become engineering minded.

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