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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Class Time Again - Materials and Processes. And Lessons for 2016

Here's the first post of 2016, and it's already been a busy year!  

I've started with another class in aircraft maintenance.  This time, materials and processes.  

That means three straight weeks spending evenings learning about aircraft fluid lines, hardware, and heat treating.  

It's a lot of work, but it's also fascinating.  At least for me! 

So my first week there I spent learning about all manner of fluid lines, I learned about semi-flexible lines, flexible lines, as well as the fittings that accompany them.  

The hydraulics in a speed brake in an F-86 Saber
(Taken at Planes of Fame Air Museum)

Just as important, was a lengthy lecture on how to install hoses properly to ensure they're effective and safe use!  

Examples of the right and wrong way to install a hose.
In short, don't twist the hose! (From AC43.13)

Like I said, it's fascinating for me. 

But there are plenty of others out there, who may not give one rip about the differences in flares in an automotive versus an aircraft semi-rigid line.  So what is the broader lesson to consider? 

The tools to design is becoming more pervasive as technology allows design tools to the masses.  Tools like Fusion 360 and Onshape have made 3D CAD available to people who only a few short years ago would have only dreamed of having access to that kind of design capability.

It opens up an entirely new world of potential of how people create things and build. 

But I think that raises a new challenge.  How do we design?  We now have amazing tools for creating and making things.  But that doesn't mean that we have the experience to use them to their full potential.

Those lessons can always be learned, but I don't think they should be learned in a vacuum.  "Someone always knows more than you do."  I'm told.

Mentor's come in many forms.  I encourage you to find yours!
Sure, you can create a 3D model, we can even run an Finite Element Analysis (FEA) simulation and see how the stresses interact on our part. 

But that doesn't help us know how to load a part.  We can't always know that a hose should have 5-8% added to it's length to account for expansion and flex.  Even today, software may not tell us that.  Experience does.

There's no account for experience.  Take this from a guy who has learned volumes from mechanics who have been doing their job for longer than I've been walking this planet.

You just can't beat that real world experience in my mind!

I can (and have) learned many a lesson from mechanics like the
those repairing this F-86 Saber!
So what do I think the challenge as we take our first steps into 2016?   

The "Internet of Things" rides on the backbone of the 'Information Superhighway".  

We're fortunate enough to not only have the tools to design, but access to volumes of information on how to design.  

Just look at resources like GrabCAD, and EngineersEdge.  There are so many out there!  

So as we begin 2016, let's design!  Find a mentor, find a class.  Let's embrace learning, and embrace our passions, whatever they are!

There is so much we can learn! 

Additional Photo Credits

photo credit: FDR 1978 Graphic Arts Shop Class - Mr Gruber - 04 via photopin (license)

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