Dr. Petroski—excellent article! I suppose I'm really uninformed. I thought that surely all surgeons had some form of WRITTEN checklist prior to performing an operation. As an engineering program manager, I would never start a program without a schedule indicating critical path AND a checklist noting those items necessary to accomplish completion. It becomes even more important when differing design and drafting locations are involved. I know you don't have the location issue with surgery but one very tired surgeon operating day after day will make mistakes. It's not if but when. My own doctor has indicated to me several times he needs an IE to examine the organizational aspects of his office. The "doctoring" is quite adequate but front office staff run the place like a zoo.
JimT I agree with you. As a designer I certainly have a mental checklist but I believe the key word is "written". One of my college professors would always make us write stuff down because he said "if you write it down then that says you have thought about it". I agree most of the time if you write something down you have thought about it.
fixated has negative connotations. BUMPFF was RAF standard finals check mnemonic before landing on propellor driven aircraft. i think 'brakes off' is an important check. not fixated at all...just pointing out something missing in your checklist. however if you feel you do not need to check that the brakes are off prior to landing...well, i guess thats up to you.
I remember once when I was doing a product commissioning in another country, the customer had a consultant who lived and died by his ever-present check lists. While that made him extremely thorough in his own area of expertise, it caused a certain amount of gamesmanship among some of the others. He obviously couldn't know the details of every component to be checked, so he had to rely on others to furnish the information necessary to create the checklists. I found some people to be very creative in the information they gave him so as to receive very generic responsibilities on the checklist.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.