Friday Favorites 4/13/2012

I was fortunate to begin my engineering career working for a man who believed that an electrical engineer should appreciate every aspect of the development of an electronic system.  Fresh from college with all this new-fangled digital technology bouncing around in my head, I found myself seated at a work bench with technicians soldering parts onto printed circuit board or wiring cables to connectors.   I learned the color codes for resistors and phone lines.  And I got to build a prototype digital phone system from the ground up.   Placing the first call on that system hooked me forever to Those Moments when an idea becomes reality.

Fast forward twenty years.  I have a doctorate in electrical engineering and I’m a signal processing analyst.  For a good while, most of what I produce takes the form of equations.   I’m a long way from Those Moments but the pay is good and I like the equations, too.   The joy of Those Moments is forgotten, at least until my boss asks me to become the technical director of a large prototype sonar.   Reluctantly, I accept, daunted by horror stories of awful conditions and high seas during sea tests.  But the project turns out to be a high point in my career.   In 1999, I retire and form my own company with a colleague, a company that builds many small systems, from equations to reality.   I’m as happy as the proverbial pig.    These days, I’m an expert.  I review other company’s systems.  I contribute ideas and equations to other company’s products.   I provide technical opinions on legal matters.  Being an expert has its moments but not Those Moments.


Yesterday morning, checking out the morning news online, I found an article titled Cutting Edge Navy Warship Being Built in Maine on   It showed an artist’s conception of an amazing ship, the DDG-1000, being built for the Navy by Bath Iron Works.  It’s amazing on many counts: appearance, its low-to-the water, stealth hull and superstructure, much of it built from composites to reduce its radar cross-section;  significant technological innovations throughout; a $3.8 Billion (yes, with a B) price tag.   In the bowels of that ship is a new sonar system, and my fingerprints are all over it.   My last assignment before retiring and my first as a consultant was the development of this sonar.  I served on the industry-Navy peer group that developed the requirements and the technology.  I was deeply involved in its design and testing.   And now, thirteen years later, it’s coming to fruition.  It’s one of Those Moments, big time.  It’s very cool.   And it’s my Friday Favorite for this week.

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5 Comments on “Friday Favorites 4/13/2012”

  1. $3.8 Billion? *faints*

    And OMYWORD? YOU built that new sonar system? HOLY CRAP!

  2. muriel reed Says:

    WOW! I’m impressed:).

  3. How exciting! It’s so meaningful when we see that something we’ve dedicated ourselves to is serving a larger purpose in the world. Congratulations. It’s nice to “know” someone behind-the-scenes.

  4. Jeni Hill Ertmer Says:

    Awesome! I say that simply because a whole lot of stuff you wrote about here I didn’t fully understand -not being technically oriented at all -until the end and THEN, I definitely understood what you’d been doing. Not what exactly but well, what you worked on. And that is simply awesome!

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