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What I Am…

Where I spent my “allowance” in the 1950’s.

Read a comment made by an old (youngish 66 year old) dude about his involvement with 3D printing. He said he is a retired engineer. The reason he loved 3D printing wasn’t from what he made. It was the complexity and constant challenge to learn and understand the technical process. The CAD; the item design; the CNC; the process; the hardware; the mental stimulation. It had to be complex and difficult or he wouldn’t be interested.

I realized I was reading my own mind. It isn’t about what I make at all. It is all about mastering the total process of making things. Constant learning, discovery and problem solving is the food that drives both our purposes for being. The prize at the end is simply the goal. A merit badge of sorts; but it is then on to the next project.

The true engineering mind works that way. I have been that way all my life. It’s not something that suddenly develops after retirement. My whole life has been on the path of mastering new technical “doing it” challenges. Total immersion and full knowledge and mastery of the science, mechanics, and engineering the “why” of the process. Not that it just “happens”.

My professions and all my hobbies have absolutely been driven to understanding and mastering what is complex and difficult. “If it was easy, anyone could do it.” Should be a sign above this desk.

It’s not just engineers that think this way. It’s something that drives all successful people. “Taking it easy” is not a life plan, just a short rest before diving back into a challenge.

The joy comes from mastering every detail of a process.

My examples:

Electronics – The very first interest of my entire life (I can remember) is electricity and electronics. Not products, but the engineering details, circuit design and theory. It was the “spark” that set my course for wanting to know how things work.

Radio, ham radio, radio control, model airplanes, full size airplanes flying and construction, digital electronics, computers, engine mechanics, auto mechanics, system mechanics and design, HVAC systems, any and all control systems, business management, large construction management, teaching, photography, movie, video, workshop, tools, machine tools… did I mention 3D printing?

OK Stop! That’s enough. I could fill a hole page if I tried. Point made, I think…

I have been awakened from my wandering in the desert. I have been looking for the perfect product to justify what I do. It was that special legacy item to leave when I am gone. That’s important to me. Much of the plastic I 3D print is what I call Junque. (Fancy spelling of junk.)

That’s still true, but not important. I make occasional nice stuff too. What’s truly important to me is the process. I live for the technology of the process from design to finished product. Then the next item becomes my focus.

It was the same in my plastic model kit days. Building (assembling) the model was what it was all about. Setting a finished model on the shelf for display was not.

Same for electronics. Ordering electronic component parts from Lafayette Radio and Allied Radio, then building circuits from magazines “Radio – Electronics” and “Radio Television News“. Not something every kid did back then in the late ’50’s.

Same for everything else. Design/construction process is my enjoyment. The finished item is the “badge” of achievement.

I have realized I need to be comfortable with not always searching for the “perfect product” to make. It’s NOT just what I make (still important) but the activity of mastering the process of HOW to make it.

Life is good…

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