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Powerpoint engineering and the downfall of quality

Orionblamblam

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http://up-ship.com/blog/?p=5079

Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s - you know, when there was actual progress in aerospace - aerospace companies and organizations had people on staff who were paid, skilled artists and draftsmen. Many of even the simplest presentations were thus filled with high-quality sketches, drawings, artwork, photos of scale models, etc. But in recent years, certainly since before my aerospace career began in the mid 90’s, there has been a consolidation of skills into a smaller and smaller group of people. I often heard tales of how the floor of the office was ringed with engineers on the outside, filled with draftsmen in the middle, and had secretaries/technical writers on the ends. The engineers would crunch the numbers, the draftsmen would make the drawings, the secretaries and writers would write up the reports (often using little more than random scribbles and scraps scrawled by the engineers). The system may have been unweildy and inefficient, but obviously it worked.

But with the rise of the personal computer, word processing programs and CAD programs, the apparent “need” for the non-engineers declined. Why have a draftsman when the engineer can do the drafting himself? Who needs a secretary when the engineer can do the writing himself?
 

Jemiba

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Quite right, but not limited to the aviation industry. Financial resources are (said to be !) scarce
and the time frame for new developments has become longer. So, the nitpickers add up the time,
they are paying for their highly qualified personal, dividing it by the number and ... theirs plenty of
"spare time" ! The higher the qualification, the harder it is to replace someone, so with a grumble
they have to keep their engineers, or at least a number of them. Are they really expecting too much,
if those engineers are asked to make drawings or writing text on their own and of course making
coffee on their own ? Of course, when a new project actually starts, then the remaining key personal
is swamped with tasks, that often cannot be fulfilled all in time and if done, there may be still some
flaws, because it's normal, that making the proverbial powerpoint presentation for the boss is much more
important, than checking calculations twice, or thinking about alternative solutions. And very, VERY
important tasks, that have to be done not at once, but yesterday, still can be "outsourced" on short notice.
Often really funny to see the results from those outsiders ! ;D
 

aim9xray

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...floating around the back alleys of the Air Force...
 

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elmayerle

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*chuckle* It started before Powerpoint. Back in 1983, one of my associates on the B-2 at Pico Rivera produced a beatuiful syllabus for a "Masters of Science in Viewgraph Engineering". I sorely wished I'd saved a copy.
 

Apollo Leader

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Orionblamblam said:
http://up-ship.com/blog/?p=5079

Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s - you know, when there was actual progress in aerospace - aerospace companies and organizations had people on staff who were paid, skilled artists and draftsmen. Many of even the simplest presentations were thus filled with high-quality sketches, drawings, artwork, photos of scale models, etc. But in recent years, certainly since before my aerospace career began in the mid 90’s, there has been a consolidation of skills into a smaller and smaller group of people. I often heard tales of how the floor of the office was ringed with engineers on the outside, filled with draftsmen in the middle, and had secretaries/technical writers on the ends. The engineers would crunch the numbers, the draftsmen would make the drawings, the secretaries and writers would write up the reports (often using little more than random scribbles and scraps scrawled by the engineers). The system may have been unweildy and inefficient, but obviously it worked.

But with the rise of the personal computer, word processing programs and CAD programs, the apparent “need” for the non-engineers declined. Why have a draftsman when the engineer can do the drafting himself? Who needs a secretary when the engineer can do the writing himself?

Sorry for replying to this almost two months later, but I just only recently had the chance to read your whole post on your blog. Pretty much everything you described is what has happened with my former employer which I was laid off from almost a year ago. More and more of the drafting and other documentation responsibilities of our CAD department, which I was a part of, has gone to the engineers. They are drafting with different CAD programs and crude hand drawn sketches and the results are obvious. It's a documentation and organizational train wreck waiting to happen. Our department was once up to 6 people now it's practically down to 2.

At least the good news for me is that I was able to get out of a dead end job with a dead end company and I'm about to take some classes to get myself caught up with the more current CAD software on the market. :)
 

Kosmos929

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elmayerle said:
*chuckle* It started before Powerpoint. Back in 1983, one of my associates on the B-2 at Pico Rivera produced a beatuiful syllabus for a "Masters of Science in Viewgraph Engineering". I sorely wished I'd saved a copy.

I did that at Cheyenne Mountain at about the same time for the J-6's morning briefing before he briefed the CinC. I quickly found that it was really easy to run out of one syllable words that O-6's and above could understand!
 

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