|What are the Laws of Engineering
This is a re-post from the Construction and Transportation Communities/Practice Areas.
Shortly after starting my career at the Long Island Rail Road, NY, I discovered Excellence in Engineering by W.H. Roadstrum - published 1967 by John Wiley & Sons, in the Equipment Engineering library. He wrote “Engineering work is project work.”
From my first reading, it influenced my work ethic, thought processes, organization skills, and interaction with teams on projects. I have used it as a constant reference.
Roadstrum, an alumnus of Worester Polytechnic Institute, tells the story of the engineering profession and the commitments required for success. The Chapters cover the sphere of engineering roles, responsibilities, processes and products, and each chapter lists good and poor practices.
One of the most important skills in project work is converting effective communications into strong, constructive and professional relationships with each project participant. In his Chapter on Human Relations in an Engineering Organization, Roadstrum references a series of articles published in 1944 by W.J. King in the journal Mechanical Engineering – Laws of Engineering. At the time, King was with the General Electric Company, Supercharger Engineering Division, West Lynn, MA.
The series consisted of Part 1-What Every Beginner Needs to Learn at Once, Part 2-Relating Chiefly to Engineering Executives, and Part 3-Purely Personal Considerations for Engineers. Here are the salient categories and tips, which are just as valid today:
PART 1 - In Relation to Work
• However menial and trivial your early assignment may appear give your best effort
• There is always a premium upon the ability to gets things done
• In carrying out a project do not wait for foreman, vendors and other to deliver the goods, go after them and keep everlasting after them
• Confirm your instructions and the other follow’s commitments in writing
• When sent out on any compliant or other assignment stick with it and see it through to a successful finish
• Avoid the very appearance of vacillation
• Don’t be timid – speak up –express yourself and promote your ideas
• Before asking for approval of any major action, have a definite plan and program worked out to support it
• Strive for conciseness and clarity in oral or written reports
• Be extremely careful of the accuracy of your statements.
In Relation to the Boss
• Every executive must what’s going on in his bailiwick
• Do not overlook the fact that you’re working for your boss
• Be as particular as you can in selecting your boss
• One of the first things you owe your boss is to keep him informed of all significant developments
• Whatever the boss wants done takes priority
• Do not be too anxious to follow the boss’s lead.
Regarding relations with Associates and Outsiders
• Never invade the domain of any other division without the knowledge and consensus of the executive in charge
• In all transactions be careful to “deal in” everyone who has a right to be in
• Be careful about whom you mark for copies of letters, memos, etc., when the interests of other departments are involved
• Promises, schedules and estimates are necessary and important instruments in a well-ordered business
• When you are dissatisfied with the service of another section, make your compliant to the individual most directly responsible for the function involved
• In dealing with customers and outsiders remember that you represent the company, ostensibly with full responsibility and authority.
Part 2-Individual Behavior and Technique
• Every executive must know what is going on in his bailiwick
• Do not try to do it all yourself
• Put first things first, in applying yourself to the job
• Cultivating the habit of “boiling matters down” to their simplest terms
• Do not get excited in engineering emergencies, keep your feet on the ground
• Engineering meetings should not be too large or too small
• Cultivate the habit of making brisk, clean cut decisions
• Do not overlook the value of suitable “preparation” before announcing a major decision or policy.
Handling Design and Development Projects
• Beware of the “perils of security” in planning your engineering programs
• Plan your work and work your plan
• Plan your development far enough ahead of the production so as to meet schedules without a wild last minute rush
• Be careful to “freeze” a new design when the development has progressed far enough
• Constantly review developments and other activities to make certain that actual benefits are commensurate with costs in money, time and manpower
• Make it a rule to require, and submit, regular periodic progress reports, as well as
final reports on completed projects.
Notes for Respecting the Organization
• Do not have too many men reporting to one man
• Assign definite responsibilities
• If you haven’t enough legal authority assume as much as you need
• Do not create “bottlenecks”
• Assign responsibilities for technical subjects, as well as specific products, in setting up your organization.
What every Executive Owes His Men
• Promote the personal and professional interests of your men on all occasions
• Do not hang a man too selfishly when he is offered a better opportunity elsewhere
• Do not short-circuit or override your men if you can possibly avoid it
• You owe it to your men to keep them properly informed
• Do not criticize one of your own men in front of another, especially his own subordinates
• Show an interest in what your men are doing
• Never miss a chance to commend or reward a man for a job well done
• Always accept full responsibility for your group and the individuals in it
• Do all you can to see that each of your men gets all of the salary he’s entitled to
• Include interested individuals introductions, luncheons, etc., when entertaining visitors
• Do all you can to protect the personal interests of your men and their families, especially when they’re in trouble.
Part 3-Character and Personality
• One of the most important personal traits is the ability to get along with all kinds of people
• Do not be too affable
• Regard your personal integrity as one of your most important assets
• A little profanity goes along way
• Be careful of your personal appearance
• Analyze yourself and your own men.