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Literally Engineer
Heidelberg, Germany
A British engineer living, working and occasionally thinking abroad
Interests: Music, language, cycling, science, environment, energy, communications, gadgets, social enterprise, engineering, development, innovation
Recent Activity
The planet cast a long, dark shadow into the stream of light from the system’s star: it was in this occlusion that he travelled, his face lit only by the dim glow of information panels as he sat in warm isolation, snug in the metal and fabric embrace of his... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2015 at Literally Engineering
Disorientated. Where? Dim pre-dawn - or streetlamp - light crept lethargically, reluctantly, unenergetically through a gap between blackout curtains. Energy aplenty thundered in audio form through the window and into the room: sound waves, but not homely. A hotel room. A truck, or a tractor. Almost military. No, not that... Continue reading
Posted Dec 26, 2015 at Literally Engineering
I'm writing this between lectures and dinner on the first of a 2-day FMEA forum in Osnabrück and I'm trying to figure out what to make of it all. If that opening sentence fails to give the impression that I'm bubbling with enthusiasm or energy from the day, it's because... Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2015 at Literally Engineering
It is fair – and not in the slightest bit unusual – to say that we have been struggling to apply our resources properly of late. My office is nominally dedicated to product development - but, with our well-appointed laboratories on site and our general level of expertise and "seen... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2015 at Literally Engineering
More than a few years ago, bordering on the “many”, I was invited to take part in a graduate selection weekend for Ford in the UK. It was a battery of tests ranging from one-on-one interviews and team-working simulations to presentations and problem-solving “incidents” – all nicely wrapped up in... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2014 at Literally Engineering
Destiny's Traveller - from Whilst I'm no longer much of a gamer (I finished Half-Life 2 and got several hours into Oblivion before dialling down the game time), I do like to keep tabs on what's going on in that world. Right now, the biggest thing since sliced zombies... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2014 at Literally Engineering
via I loved the headline in the first newspaper clipping below the article: "Engineer hits out at 'embarrassing' India". I could imagine subcontinental sportswriters deferring to the clearly superior analytical capabilities of their country's engineers, nodding sagely as they reported the wise musings of a randomly selected Quality Engineer... Continue reading
Reblogged Aug 19, 2014 at Literally Engineering
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency • The Register This looks like a really interesting lead in developing more efficient combustion: burning cooler, for longer, seems to result in both improved efficiency and reduced emissions. We only need to generate microgravity combustion chambers, and we'll be away! Continue reading
Reblogged Jul 29, 2014 at Literally Engineering
Why read this post? To find out why you should buy this fabulous "biography" of Bell Labs, and to consider how a monopoly set itself up for extreme innovation. Jon Gertner’s The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation is tech reverie, business book, political thriller... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2014 at Literally Engineering
An engineer who knows the difference between literally and figuratively? Very suspicious indeed! Yet here I am, proudly rebranding myself as an engineer who also deals in words (and sounds, but that's another project). I've always needed to write, just as I've needed to nourish the technical aspect of my... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2014 at Literally Engineering
We had a customer review today on one of my favourite topics in the whole wide engineering world - validation. Even though mentally I was gritting my teeth whilst they were being figuratively pulled, line item for line item, I think I managed to keep my friendly face on for... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2014 at Literally Engineering
Just a quick post to announce that I'm preparing for a switch of blog name, domain and look... It's harder than I thought it would be, especially in the knowledge that giving the blog a new URL will break quite a few things. Given that this current blog will, upon... Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2014 at Literally Engineering
Hyundai ix35 fuel cell tank cutaway. Source and permission: The picture on the right says to me: hydrogen vehicles are always going to be a cludge. Just look at that fuel tank! It's an aluminium core surrounded by hundreds of layers of some plastic or other - and that's... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2014 at Literally Engineering
Toyota helped to kick off the 2014 CES show by pronouncing themselves happy with the rate of development and cost reduction on Fuel Cell Vehicles: “Fuel cell electric vehicles will be in our future sooner than many people believe, and in much greater numbers than anyone expected.” Indeed, they intend... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2014 at Literally Engineering
For a variety of reasons unknown to me, I drifted away from that most permanently cutting-edge of artisanal engineering fields - carbon composites. My research project at university was all to do with aerospace carbon composites aerospace and I still have fond memories of laying up mats of prepreg, vacuuming... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2014 at Literally Engineering
Lose Yourself to Engineering? It’s fairly safe to say that 2013 was Daft Punk’s year. They brought out, to great hype, fanfare, and reviews their latest album, Random Access Memories, which made it into third place in The Guardian’s “Albums of 2013” list, behind John Grant’s Pale Green Ghosts in... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2013 at Literally Engineering
As opposed to engineering with hectic grumpiness Ah, finally - it's the Christmas holidays. At last, I've a chance to divert the kids into the path of their doting and understanding grandparents, then to sneak upstairs for a spot of stolen quiet-time. Time for switching off, for thinking and, in... Continue reading
Posted Dec 30, 2013 at Literally Engineering
an attribute which this post could not be accused of posessing Cycling back home from the industrial estate where I work in an otherwise romantic Heidelberg, I cross a bridge that soars over a main road with its gemütlich evening rush hour jams, and, in the same leap, over an... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2013 at Literally Engineering
Emirates Team New Zealand take to the skies... or something From the relative safety of landlocked Heidelberg in Germany, I've been keeping tabs on this year's Americas Cup sailing race. With a whole pile of relatives in New Zealand I was of course rooting for Team Emirates New Zealand, who... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2013 at Literally Engineering
Why do we have quality departments? Even posing the question feels like a minor rebellion on my part, since "Quality" is such an integral concept in the business of producing things. For "integral" we can also read "taken for granted." Sometimes it can be good to tug at the tent... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2013 at Literally Engineering
Just before this (at the time long overdue) vacation, I was invited to attend a meeting with a technical sales guy from a supplier. Normally, I must admit, I tend to be somewhat (too) polite with people I meet on a professional basis, which can get in the way of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2013 at Literally Engineering
This post was first published over at Engineers Looking For Stuff, to which I contribute every now and again. I enjoyed writing this one so much, and it's so pertinent to the way that I think about engineering, that I asked and received permission to republish it here. They are... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2013 at Literally Engineering
Who reads procedures? What, you don’t? Alright then, another question - who writes procedures? Ah, well, on that front, I have a confession to make: I do. But hold on - if you’re not reading, why bother writing? Let’s go back to the start, see what we’re dealing with. Procedures... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2013 at Literally Engineering
After letting lady Shanghai go first, gentlemanly North America, along with cousin Mexico, took its turn at being trained by a bunch of know-it-all Europeans (and one Australian), who were airdropped into Detroit last week to bring a breath of fresh thinking to the way our product and processes are... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2013 at Literally Engineering
Yesterday, Thursday, being a bank holiday (at least in my state of Baden-Württemberg), today was a classic German "bridging day". One day's holiday resulting in a four-day weekend is simply too good a ratio to miss for most Germans, and I had also planned to take advantage of the bridge.... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2013 at Literally Engineering