STS Engineering Services goes back to “Old School”

17 Sep 2015 Bryan Shaw


With the calendar turning over to September and the cool air starting to rush in through the Midwest, that can only mean one thing (no, not football season)… It’s time for our children to return to the classroom.

Summer break is over, and that spells back-to-school shopping for mom and dad. My sons’ supply list had all of the usual suspects; pencils, crayons, paper, notebooks, a calculator, etc…

Before I continue, I bet some of you are wondering, “What the heck does back-to school shopping have to do with engineering?” It’s a fair question given that I’m an engineer who’s expected to write about engineering, so let me do my best to answer.

Last week, I had one of my teammates ask if we had a caliper in the office to measure a part he was working on. I told him that I had one in my desk and then proceeded to rummage around to see if I could find it. Of course, I could not (nothing is ever where I think I left it), but I did find a whole host of archaic drafting tools such as hole templates, letter templates, a protractor, a compass and even an old electric eraser. The list of tools I found seemed oddly similar to my sons’ back to school list, I thought, but only for “old school” engineering.

Chances are if you were born after 1980, you’ve probably never had to endure manual drafting and are not familiar with these tools (or the rotary dial phone for that matter). I’m not really sure why I’ve hung on to them since I haven’t worked on a manual drawing in forever. I’m a sentimental person by nature, and if I had to venture a guess, I suppose my reason for keeping these tools has something to do with that.

As a both a parent and as an engineer, I think it’s important to embrace both current and future practices while also remembering and honoring the past technologies that have driven us forward.

Now for every aspiring and / or youthful engineer out there, here’s what I’d like you all to do… Take some time to research the history of your craft and the tools that once made its execution possible. Why? Because understanding the past is paramount to conquering the future, and if you want to thrive as an engineer, you need to appreciate and embrace the foundation that modern engineering was built upon.

Take it from me, you can learn a lot about engineering, its history and its tools by searching online or by paying a visit to your local library. Do people still go to libraries? Do this and you will not only find yourself better suited to thrive in the future, you may even be surprised at how relevant the past is to your current career aspirations. Consider this your first homework assignment of the new school year, and please know that grades will be given based on effort and retention.

OK, enough of the running metaphor. By now you should all get the picture… Summer is over, school has started, homework is your new best friend and engineers are made better by studying the history of their craft.

If you would like to learn more about STS Technical Services in-house engineering capabilities, or perhaps you’d just like to shoot the bull about the history of engineering, give us a call today at 1-800-784-7410. Me and my team will be more than happy to assist you, and we may even help you with your homework assignment!