Areas of Expertise

One of the first things you hear upon becoming a parent is that “children keep you young.” Once, I foolishly thought this referred to your physical fitness from chasing the little rugrats around. I’ve since learned that your children can continue to keep you youthful long past the toddler and soccer years if you take the time to listen to them.

My adult children influence my opinions on current events and help prevent me from falling into the nostalgia trap. Despite thousands of years of curmudgeons’ warnings, the world is not going to hell in a hand basket created by disrespectful brats who can’t keep their pants up. Lots of great music and literature are being created each day along with lots of garbage; a situation unchanged since curmudgeons first started commenting on the topic. Probably the day after the first tune was whistled and the second cave wall was painted.

To quote noted philosopher Dirty Harry: “A man has to know his limitations.” Should he fail in this vital task his wife and children are ready to help out. Whenever I hear a really good know-it-all talking head explain the world on cable TV I am reminded of John Hodgman’s 2005 book “Areas of My Expertise.” Satire is a gift to the world.

So what does this have to do with an engineering blog? Twice this week I was reminded of the importance of knowing when to ask for help. The first came in the form of a letter from another consulting firm looking for people to help them on projects that require more gear expertise than their principals have. The second was during an AGMA Web Ex discussing metallurgical requirements.

None of the people participating in the Web Ex were metallurgists. It quickly became clear that we should not be deciding on the limits of steel impurities or other specifics without assistance. While we have an obligation to become informed on topics that influence our engineering work we also have to recognize when to call in some help.

The next generation of gear experts is already among us; they just don’t know it yet. We owe them an honest “we don’t know” when they ask a question on some topics. My next blog will discuss some of those questions.

About Charles D. Schultz 660 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

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