I'm postponing the answer to number 7 because it's going to take a little preparation to answer it correctly.
Q: What is the favorite thing you've designed?
A: That's like asking what's my favorite work of art in the Louvre (the Louvre is a big museum that the French think is the best). [Ed. I think J-H has put in some time there: we’ll wait for him to comment.]
Here's a few of my fav's:
- A cargo loader that you drive up to the airplane and unload big 15000 pound cargo containers (think of putting all the kids in your class AND the school bus in a big box). I liked this project because we worked on it for a long time and really perfected a lot of the machine. It would even tell you when there was something wrong with the electrical system, and what was wrong.
- A machine that generated electricity when you drove over it in a car. I liked this project because it was the most original idea that I have ever worked on. It was also a project that at first I thought was a bad idea, but as I did the math and figured out what was possible, I eventually decided it was a good idea after all.
- A machine for harvesting Spinach. I liked this project because it was quick and the design ended up being elegant. Elegant means both simple and beautiful at the same time. Tell your Mom she's elegant when she's dressed up. She might buy you a Mountain Dew. The machine has a saw, blowers, shakers, conveyors, and drives like a tank. But it has no electrical complexity at all, no computers or controllers. Most mechanics can fix it even if they've never seen one before. If they can't fix it they shouldn't be mechanics. They should be politicians.
- I also did some consulting for a motorcycle company helping them improve the reliability of their motorcycles. It was interesting because I learned a lot about instrumentation. Instrumentation is when you put special sensors on a machine that tell you things like how fast they are vibrating, how much they are stressed, or how hot they are getting. This is super useful if a part is failing and you can't figure out why. This job was also cool because it makes people say things like, "OOOH MOTORCYLCLES!". Their eyes light up. Sometimes the women swoon.
Pop open a Mountain Dew (your Mom should be stocking it by now) and check out pictures of some of the machines I've designed at www.scottharlanpe.com.
Ed.: aka The World’s Best Mechanical Engineer
Also in this series:
• get it in gear
• busta dew
• holy hydraulics, batman!
• solenoid spectacular
• springs & things
• the world's best mechanical engineer explains it all for you