July 14, 2022
[starbox] I was one of those kids that loved reading the dictionary to learn new words, and that interest has continued into my golden years. The gear trade has its own unique lexicon of terms, as does engineering in general. One of the cool things is the different meanings words take on due to their context. This came to mind in church Sunday morning when we sang a hymn about being “free from sin’s alloy.” Like most of you, I am a big fan of alloys since we learned over the centuries that “pure” metals are weaker than those with the proper recipe of additives. While theologians and jewelers might think purity is a desirable goal, we mechanical engineers prefer the higher strength of a well-tested alloy. Another word that needs context is “stress.” It can be just a point of emphasis or a deadly combination of events in your personal life. We engineers realize it is everywhere there is a “load” and work hard to quantify it, measure it, and make sure it is less than the “allowable.” No wonder our “civilian” associates think we are a strange breed; we do speak a different language and have a much different view of the world. The smarter ones appreciate that without inquisitive tinkers, scientists, and engineers they’d still be beating their clothes against rocks in a stream. At Marquette University, where I attended, there was a longstanding but good-natured joke war between the engineering and business administration schools. Several times a semester, mimeographed (boy, am I dating myself with that) “newspapers” would appear in the school’s lobbies with humorous shots at the other group. I have kept some of them for over 40 years and still find them funny. Any of you have a favorite engineer/accountant/salesman or even lawyer joke you want to share? Send it to us and I’ll see that it gets into a blog posting.