March 2, 2015

What Spock could teach Scotty..

You probably heard that acclaimed actor Leonard Nimoy passed away last week.  While it would be wholly unfair to ignore the breadth of his many professional achievements, it is hard not to focus on the iconic role of Star Trek's Mr. Spock.

Growing up in the 60's you would be hard pressed to find a kid who was not riveted to the TV every Friday night (season 1 was Thursday nights) on NBC.   We orginal Trekkers knew the show inside and out and could get visibly agitated when a grown-up would confuse 'Mr. Spock" with 'Dr. Spock.'  Who knows, maybe that confusion is why so many baby boomers are such a mess now...

Thinking back on the character of Mr. Spock (Chief Science Office), it got me thinking about how engineers, particularly field service engineers,  interact with scientists in our industry.   Scientists and engineers have vary different mindsets and sometimes have a little difficulty in communicating.  Not to get overly analytical but, scientists by nature are experimenters.  They solve problems by hypothesizing, experimenting and observing.   Engineers on the other hand, generally take a systems approach to problem solving, using 'knowns' and working their way backward to determine faults.    Good engineers, by virtue of their training take a 'first do no harm' approach to resolving problems and therefore ask lots of questions before they start taking things apart.    Two different approaches that can be hard to reconcile.   Channeling Dr. McCoy "Damnit Jim, I'm a doctor not an... (insert engineer or scientist here).