Publish or Perish

My very first posting in this space was a call for papers for the 2013 AGMA Fall Technical Meeting. I had just gotten home from Arlington, Virginia, where my paper was one of over 20 added to the canon. Over the next year, many of those papers were published in Gear Technology and made available to online users via the magazine’s fully searchable archives. Unfortunately, not all AGMA papers from previous FTMs are available on-line, and some that are scanned in are not searchable. We, as an industry, owe a debt of gratitude to this magazine’s publisher and staff for going that extra mile to make the archives more user- and reader-friendly.

But my topic today is “Publish or Perish.” This phrase may be familiar to you in an academic setting, but if you are an engineer working today, it applies to you as well. Occasionally people will write to me seeking advice on becoming a consulting engineer. They aren’t very happy when I recommend a 20- or 30-year-long preparation period that involves public speaking and writing papers. Their eagerness to get started does not change the facts on the ground: you won’t be successful as a consultant without a demonstrated history of accomplishment and name recognition.

In other words, you have to build your “personal brand.” I got started on this in 1987, when my boss decided I should write a book on gears to hand out to customers. He pulled the funding about the time he laid me off, but I was able to get 20 job interviews from the 24 copies of the self-published book that my wife and I mailed out. Said book has been revised and expanded over the years, and it still helps me get work; you can get a free copy at the Beyta Gear Service web site ( Would I have preferred spending that “writing time” doing other things? Definitely; but I now consider it one of the best investments I ever made.

This was my fourth AGMA FTM paper, and they don’t get easier as you go along. It has been many years since member companies presented papers on their in-house research, so individual engineers must pick up the educational torch and advance our trade. If you make the effort you won’t regret it. Encouragement, advice, and even topic ideas are available if you ask around. Self-select as a technology leader.

The dividends will come to you over the years.

About Charles D. Schultz 678 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.