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Thread: English/metric measurement error in the Mars Climate Orbiter

  1. #11
    Hans Pearson's Avatar
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    Theory without practice is sterile but practice without theory is blind.

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  3. #12
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    Hi 12bolts,
    Your examples are hilarious! It's a long time since I have laughed so hard as Your description was so good I felt as if I was there.
    Your statement of Tertiary educated people that think theory is equal to reality is so true. By the way I have a Trade Certificate to prove I completed 9000 hrs of theory and practice though the theory I am still working on as things change so I have a tertiary education like every other tradesman.
    There are a few books written by Robert Townsend,(nothing to do with music), on management practices and he stresses that nobody knows the job like those actually doing it and nearly all people doing anything that involves the body as well as the mind can develop shortcuts and efficient work practices so they should be allowed to do what they know does or will work.
    It has also been my experience that people with a trade who then decide to obtain a degree or higher usually have a need to do so and are exactly the sort of person that I want directing the show if it is not me as they usually have "street smarts' when it comes to job approach .

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    Hello All, This discussion prompted me to make my first post. My father worked for a coal company in the 50's. They wanted him and his crew to float a pump out onto the surface of a tailings pond. The engineer in charge gave them a sketch for a set of pontoons to be fabricated out of steel pipe. A couple of the men were WWII Navy Seabees so they knew how things float, but they also followed orders. They fabricated the pontoons to spec, mounted the pump and pulled it out into the pond, where it promptly sank. As they were dragging it out of the pond the engineer showed up, pondered the problem and came up with a brilliant solution. He told them to weld a couple of valve stems onto the pontoons and fill them with air. Don't know if they followed that order or not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mklotz View Post
    Well, speaking as a "University Educated Idiot that [sic] is too clever to make a mistake" I'd advise you that demeaning education is no way to solve the problem.
    mklotz,
    I don't believe he meant that everyone who is "University Educated" is an idiot, nor was he purposely demeaning education. I think he is talking about those who are too full of themselves and think they cannot make a mistake. I think we have all ran across a few of those kinds of people in our lifetimes, I know I sure have met my share of them.

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  8. #15
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    That was fascinating, Jon! A few things to sort out before they send humans, not so?

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    mklotz mklotz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trojan Horse View Post
    mklotz,
    I don't believe he meant that everyone who is "University Educated" is an idiot, nor was he purposely demeaning education. I think he is talking about those who are too full of themselves and think they cannot make a mistake. I think we have all ran across a few of those kinds of people in our lifetimes, I know I sure have met my share of them.
    I'm glad you don't; I do.

    There's a growing tendency in society today to put down education. Given that education was once a respected attribute and much sought after, it's hard to understand this turn around in popular opinion. I have my own ideas about its causes but presenting them would just cause a lot of bickering that we don't need on this forum.

    If you want to badmouth the engineer who didn't get it right, do so with my blessing but, when you do it, leave out the generalizations like "university-educated idiot" and concentrate on describing how dumb the offending individual was.

    If one thinks that, because of all his hands-on experience, the fellow who provided the plans has missed the boat he should do the calculations himself and present the results to the fellow, proving to him the error of his ways. You'll either be thanked and given a bonus or fired for your impertinence. Either way you win; if fired, you'll be freed up to find a job with a firm that appreciates your on-job-learned engineering design skills.
    ---
    Regards, Marv


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    Quote Originally Posted by mklotz View Post
    And while you're worrying about that, when they refuel your plane in China for the trans-Pacific return do they measure fuel in pounds or kilograms?.
    Many countries use Kilos for fuel and have done so for over 30 years. Use your search engine to look for the Gimli Glider.

    On July 23, 1983, Air Canada Flight 143,a Canadian 767 that ran out of fuel because the refueling was done using conversion factors for pounds instead of kilos.

    My favourite link is The Gimli Glider / Air Canada
    Last edited by MiTasol; 06-21-2017 at 04:55 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NortonDommi View Post
    Above all else remember that every stuff-up starts in an office and the usual instigator is a University Educated Idiot that is too clever to make a mistake.
    As a UEI who had thirty years of hands on practical (including a five year apprenticeship in Aircraft Maintenance) prior to starting my degrees I totally agree with the bolded section above and would replace every with many a.

    Far too many graduates are full of education and totally lacking intelligence and common sense. They confuse the ability to write essays that are graded by people with no practical experience with demonstrating learning.

    Worse still the ego of many ensures they lack the ability to read the component manufacturers publications which clearly identify how the component works and how it will not work. Some, when you point out their error, throw a tantrum that a two year old would be proud of.
    Last edited by MiTasol; 06-21-2017 at 06:00 PM.

  13. #19
    NortonDommi's Avatar
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    Marv,
    Trojan Horse is correct, I was not demeaning education,(something I value very highly), or every person with a University degree.
    Your comments regarding education being undervalued or demeaned in today's society may be correct and if so has been bought about by the actions and attitude of those with degrees in subjects like social politics, futurology ect. and the attitude of others with degrees in similar subjects when it comes to employment.
    For example I went for a job as an inhouse tool salesman but was told I would not be considered because I did not have a degree - in anything. If I had had a degree in the mating habits of Polar Bears I proberly would have gotten the job. It is this elitist attitude by an ever increasing number of people that have degrees that are of no real use that causes trades people like me to coin the term 'University Educated Idiot'. There are a lot of them. Respect is earned not given by demand.
    The ability to learn and continue to learn are to be highly prized and today with access to the interweb many younger people are becoming increasingly eclectic in their thirst for knowledge, Maker Magazine is a good example of this.
    One thing that annoys me is the way in which the education system in the Western world has been hijacked by 'wally's' with wacky theories the result being that there are many University graduates who cannot understand any written word with more than three syllables, cannot understand mathematics beyond simple arithmetic etc. I would like to see mathematics, reading and writing,(the 3 R's), taught before anything else as this allows an individual to learn anything they wish.
    To return to where this all diverged, the failures you cite are not to do with Imperial or Metric systems and mix-ups they are directly attributable to a PERSON and/or PEOPLE not thinking about what they are meant to be doing and a SYSTEM FAILURE in that mistakes were not picked up. What level of education did the people involved have?
    I was once told that "perfection is no small thing and the path to perfection lies in attention to the small things." Something I try,(not always successfully), to apply to anything I do and I hope that everyone I deal with does the same.
    I am sad that you took personal offence at my comments.

    - Barry.

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    NortonDommi's Avatar
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    As an addendum to the last perhaps I should perhaps add that,(in my opinion),it is accademia that seems to be the root cause of the problem as it is in those lofty realms that the policies of societal engineering are formulated the 'trickle down' effect of which only surfaces one or two generations later.

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