Thursday, June 5, 2008

An Engineering Adventure

The question on everybody's mind today is; "What does an engineer do anyway?" What can I say, I hear and I respond. Let's visit a video clip from my presentation to schools..

There are lots of types of engineers and the thing they work on are varied. Some work behind computers, some work in the ocean on oil rigs or underground in mines. The common thread of all engineers is that they are problem solvers.

I am also a small business owner, (small as in just Mr. Geek and me) so the engineers at this company do whatever job is needed to keep the company and the cash flow flowing.

Our company does not do large amounts of field work, but occasionally there is a need for us to go out into the field to take some measurements.

Today was that day.

First, I had to take off my semi-cute office shoes.

And put on my practical (and ugly) boots.

What was the job? Thank you for asking.

We need to know if this building was high enough to be above the river when it flooded.

Geek Alert! To find the elevation of a building first you have to know the exact elevation of another spot. then you connect that known spot to the floor of the building and measure the difference in height. Hopefully this know spot is not too far and the measurement can be done relatively quickly. If not, there is alot more work involved. (Yes, this will be on the test.)

Luckily, engineers have also invented lots of gadgets (think of McGyver, our hero or Batman's utility belt) and one way to measure is with a GPS. This is the same GPS that you use in your car to find directions.
You set up the GPS and let it talk to the satellites for one hour, then you take it back to the office and it tells the computer where it has been.

That's right, you set up the equipment (to the right) and watch it for ONE HOUR. Go ahead, stare at the picture, that's what it looks like in the field also.

Luckily, I brought along another piece of highly technical engineering equipment.

Then I moved the GPS to the second location to continue its conversation with the satellites.

This location was on the edge of the road, so I decided to park my car behind it so no one would accidentally run into it. Did I mention that the GPS is expensive and BORROWED?

Then I thought (thinking was a dangerous activity at this point), maybe I should get a bit off the road, just to be polite.

POP QUIZ: Where was this activity taking place?

Oh yeah-- In the flood plain. And what does the ground look like when it spends much of its time under the river. This all occurred to me as my car began to sink slowly.

Luckily people who live on the river all own big trucks and tow chains.

Engineering is fun!!!


Jules said...

Well, I guess it's good that it wasn't raining when you had to get all that equipment out and your car started to do wonderful things. Looks like you have a really fun job!

Doc said...

Somebody got stuck !!


Cheri and Jesse said...

Looks fun. An excuse to play in the mud and get paid for it!!! =)

Mean Mom said...

Oh dear! At least there was someone to rescue you! Your job sounds interesting! Good to be out and about in your work. I've always worked in an office and have usually been too busy to even look out of the window!

It's my birthday (7th June) and I'm having a 1950s virtual birthday party. You are very welcome to call by if you have the time!

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Excuse me? You have three boys and never laugh at a fart joke? Pay a visit to my latest post and tell me if you think it is funny - if I can make someone laugh who doesn't laugh at fart jokes then I've cracked it!

Great blog by the way. Found my way here from the excellent Lehners in France blog - she's a riot that one!