Once upon a time, I was a green engineer a couple of years out of college. At the time I was working in the space program making the normal sort of blunders associated with green engineers a few years out of college. Then I started working for a gentleman by the name of Al Ragsdale. He was one of the sharpest engineers I ever knew. His specialty was simulators and simulations.
He had been working in the space program at JSC since the Apollo days. If you watch the films of Mission Control during the Apollo 11 landing you can see him on the other side of the glass window on the right side of the Mission Control room, to the right of the picture, working the back room at the time. He was also working on the Lunar Lander simulators. During Apollo 13 he kept the simulator at least four hours ahead of the actual mission making sure nothing done would kill the crew. (In sims he “died” half a dozen times, but was always able to develop workarounds to ensure the crew did not suffer a similar fate. I think he got a Silver Snoopy for that.)
Anyway, his two years of tutelage turned me into a real engineer. I learned from the example he set while working for him and have tried to follow them ever since. One of the things I got from him were ten rules he used to guide him in his work. In view of being on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, I thought them worth sharing them with the Ricochetti.
I. Nothing is ever simple. If something seems simple, you don’t understand the problem.
II It is always easier if somebody else has to make it work.
III. Everything changes. Change is often mistaken for progress.
IV. The more you plan ahead, the less you actually accomplish.
V. If you schedule anything there will be a conflict.
VI. If you can’t do something useful, do something.
VII. The time it takes to debug a program is inversely proportional to the number of bugs in the program.
VIII. Teamwork is more important than talent.
IX, The only dumb question is one you’re afraid to ask when you need to know.
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X.Perfection is the result of ^an infinite number of errors.