I love stories where people make changes in someone else's project without thinking of or knowing of the damage they could do. I unplugged an extension cord that ran to a copier so I could move a desk to another area and then I was going to replug it. Harmless right.
Well someone else had already disconnected the copier and had a computer plugged in. I pulled the plug and heard one of the book keepers say, "Oh no. I just lost March." I was tempted to quickly reconnect before I was found out, but confessed and had to indure icy stares for a good week or so.
Growing up on a small farm in Eastern Oregon, I learned how to fix a lot of things with tools/supplies at hand (I have a pickup and baling wire story). It's served me VERY well in this career and in my hobbies.
On the southwest corner of the campus at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, MA) stands a stone building used some time ago as a magnetics and electricity lab. It contains no magnetic materials. Read a short history and see a photo here: http://www.wpi.edu/about/tour/skull.html. The street-car line no longer exists. I cannot vouch for the veracity of stories about the Skull society and any "secret" ceremonies.
I heard a story about engineering students who created a wireless robot that would crawl through metal pipes. The robot would into the pipe, but at exactly the same point it would stop communicating. Turned out the pipe formed a nice waveguide and acted like a dead short for the RF, so communications ended abruptly. My memory is a bit hazy, so maybe some other waveguide effect caused loss of comms--I'm not a microwave guy.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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