Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Youth Is Wasted on the Young

 

I swear that some younger engineers are absolutely unteachable (unlearnable?). They not only know little of the industries they serve but are ignorant of how and why their industries do things in particular ways. I could of course cite Chesterton’s Fence as one example, but there are plenty more besides.

Over the last few days, I have had a back-and-forth with a younger engineer at a long-time customer, who seems keen to change how his company is doing things, but fails to understand why they are doing what they do in the first place. He’s going to have to learn the hard way, just like all the other younger engineers. What follows is just the condensed transcript of my emails back and forth.

Customer: I want to spec part Y on my vehicles.

Me: Are you sure? It costs more, and just to get up to your volumes will take me 20-24 weeks. It’s an old part with low demand. I don’t keep the parts around any more.

Customer: The lead time is unacceptable. If we buy more, can you shorten the lead time?

Me: No. I don’t have the parts. They take 20-24 weeks to get.

Customer: So you cannot shorten the lead time?

Me: No.

Customer: What do you have on the shelf that is equivalent?

Me: Product X, which you already use.

Customer: Does X have such long lead times?

Me: No. You use thousands a year. It’s always being built.

Customer: So why is part Y so hard to get?

Me: It’s different. It uses a complicated connector instead of spade terminals. Those connectors are not stocked anywhere. They made to order. And they take 20-24 weeks to get.

Customer: The lead time is unacceptable.

Me: It’s not in my hands. I don’t have the connector.

Customer: So if I order Y, it will take 20-24 weeks to get?

Me: Yes.

Customer: But I can have X now?

Me: You already have X. You use thousands a year.

Customer: So why is the lead time 20-24 weeks on Y?

Me: It’s different, and uses parts I don’t keep around. It’s old and doesn’t sell well. I was planning on dropping it entirely.

Customer: Why isn’t X affected by this?

Me: Because I make thousands a year. I only made 150 of Y last year.

Customer: Can you shorten the lead time of Y?

Me: No. I cannot shorten the lead time. It is not in my control. This is not negotiable.

Customer: So if I understand you right, if order Y, it will take 20-24 weeks to get?

Me: YES!!!!

Customer: What can I use in the meantime? I cannot hold up production.

Me: Product X! You already use it! I just shipped you 200 more this week. You’ve been using it since 2003! Why are you so keen on Y?

Customer: It’s smaller than X. We need to reduce space.

Me: X is already very small. And cheaper. You’d have to spec a more complicated harness to use Y.

Customer: Why is Y such a poor seller? Why don’t your other customers use Y? What aren’t you telling me?

Me: Y was made for 1 customer over a decade ago. They don’t use it anymore, we only make Y now to support the repair side. And mechanics hate connectors and break them, so when a vehicle comes in with Y they just cut it all out and install X. You can get spade terminal crimpers at Home Depot, while fixing that connector takes $400 crimpers that take… 20-24 weeks to get.

Customer: …So you cannot shorten that lead time?

Me: [swears profusely under breath]…

It’s never a good sign when you know more about a customer’s vehicle than they do.

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  1. Judge Mental Member

    Condensed version, eh? Do you plan to release the extended edition?

    • #1
    • November 20, 2020, at 9:23 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  2. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Condensed version, eh? Do you plan to release the extended edition?

    Just add a few more program loops, and a long discourse on the history of bus wiring.

    • #2
    • November 20, 2020, at 9:26 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  3. Ekosj Member

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Condensed version, eh? Do you plan to release the extended edition?

    The director’s cut. With the never before released scene of Skip putting his own head in his open desk drawer and repeatedly slamming it shut.

    • #3
    • November 20, 2020, at 9:31 AM PST
    • 14 likes
  4. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Condensed version, eh? Do you plan to release the extended edition?

    The director’s cut. With the never before released scene of Skip putting his own head in his open desk drawer and repeatedly slamming it shut.

    My office door, actually. The desk holds the breakfast scotch.

    • #4
    • November 20, 2020, at 9:33 AM PST
    • 15 likes
  5. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    You are dealing with the Purchasing twerp. They moved him to Purchasing to limit the amount of damage he can do. He’s probably the nephew of a vice president or something.

    When I specified parts for a Purchasing twerp, I was as specific as I could possibly be. Caught one once who was going to order three 268 processors as a replacement for two 386s.

    No, it doesn’t work out the same. Just do what I told you to do.”

    • #5
    • November 20, 2020, at 9:35 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  6. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    You are dealing with the Purchasing twerp. They moved him to Purchasing to limit the amount of damage he can do. He’s probably the nephew of a vice president or something.

    When I specified parts for a Purchasing twerp, I was as specific as I could possibly be. Caught one once who was going to order three 268 processors as a replacement for two 386s.

    No, it doesn’t work out the same. Just do what I told you to do.”

    Why are you always banging your head with a hammer?

    Because it feels so good when I stop!

    • #6
    • November 20, 2020, at 9:37 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  7. Seawriter Contributor

    Are you sure this in-DUH-vidual is an engineer? If so, engineering education must have detriorated badly over the last 40 years. This guy seems incapable of reasoning. That was the first thing they taught when I attended an engineering college back in the 1970s.

    • #7
    • November 20, 2020, at 9:39 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  8. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Are you sure this in-DUH-vidual is an engineer? If so, engineering education must have detriorated badly over the last 40 years. This guy seems incapable of reasoning. That was the first thing they taught when I attended an engineering college back in the 1970s.

    I can only go by the email signature.

    Then again, I could tag myself as “Grand Poobah of Solder Dross, Esquire”, and who would gainsay me?

    • #8
    • November 20, 2020, at 9:44 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  9. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I think this is also an object lesson as to why “working from home” is just as disastrous as “remote learning”. Clearly neither working nor learning are actually occurring, and if this guy was allowed to actually examine one of the vehicles on the shop floor he might understand his own situation. I’m not sure he’s been allowed near an office since March – this is sadly common at many many customers lately.

    • #9
    • November 20, 2020, at 9:46 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  10. Seawriter Contributor

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Are you sure this in-DUH-vidual is an engineer? If so, engineering education must have detriorated badly over the last 40 years. This guy seems incapable of reasoning. That was the first thing they taught when I attended an engineering college back in the 1970s.

    I can only go by the email signature.

    Then again, I could tag myself as “Grand Poobah of Solder Dross, Esquire”, and who would gainsay me?

    There are lots of folks who claim the title “engineer” that have BAs rather than BSs. They may even be English or Studies majors. Having engineer in your title adds prestige – like calling a garbageman a sanitary engineer. 

    • #10
    • November 20, 2020, at 9:48 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  11. Judge Mental Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Are you sure this in-DUH-vidual is an engineer? If so, engineering education must have detriorated badly over the last 40 years. This guy seems incapable of reasoning. That was the first thing they taught when I attended an engineering college back in the 1970s.

    I can only go by the email signature.

    Then again, I could tag myself as “Grand Poobah of Solder Dross, Esquire”, and who would gainsay me?

    There are lots of folks who claim the title “engineer” that have BAs rather than BSs. They may even be English or Studies majors. Having engineer in your title adds prestige – like calling a garbageman a sanitary engineer.

    Grievance Engineers.

    • #11
    • November 20, 2020, at 9:51 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  12. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Are you sure this in-DUH-vidual is an engineer? If so, engineering education must have detriorated badly over the last 40 years. This guy seems incapable of reasoning. That was the first thing they taught when I attended an engineering college back in the 1970s.

    I can only go by the email signature.

    Then again, I could tag myself as “Grand Poobah of Solder Dross, Esquire”, and who would gainsay me?

    There are lots of folks who claim the title “engineer” that have BAs rather than BSs. They may even be English or Studies majors. Having engineer in your title adds prestige – like calling a garbageman a sanitary engineer.

    Grievance Engineers.

    AKA: “Six Sigma Black Belts”.

    • #12
    • November 20, 2020, at 9:52 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  13. Stina Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Are you sure this in-DUH-vidual is an engineer? If so, engineering education must have detriorated badly over the last 40 years. This guy seems incapable of reasoning. That was the first thing they taught when I attended an engineering college back in the 1970s.

    I don’t know. I know my school completely ditched engineering the year I entered (should have been a red flag for me).

    My history professors were always angry with the school president for the idiotic choices she made concerning the science and tech departments.

    While there’s a certain amount of not knowing that which you speak, there’s also probably a lot of not wanting to be fooled by a salesman and not wanting to screw up that contributes to young engineers being complete doofuses.

    And also businesses shoe-horning new people into positions with limited supervision or guidance.

    I did reliability for a while when I started. My job was to analyze data and create charts for business meetings. There were specific charts and specific processes I was told to follow. But I had absolutely no freakin’ idea what I was doing or what any of it meant. Because I wasn’t a Reliability Engineer, I hadn’t spent anytime in actuarial education or work, and no one explained what I was doing. I learned more about that job while doing other jobs around the company after that. Like certain pieces started clicking.

    I still have only a passing knowledge on the system I did reliability for. And I know they used a Bakersfield monitor.

    • #13
    • November 20, 2020, at 10:27 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  14. PHCheese Member

    ”If you need to hire someone smart hire someone young. They know it all” PHCeese.

    • #14
    • November 20, 2020, at 11:13 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  15. HankRhody Freelance Philosopher Contributor

    Stina (View Comment):

     

    I did reliability for a while when I started. My job was to analyze data and create charts for business meetings. There were specific charts and specific processes I was told to follow. But I had absolutely no freakin’ idea what I was doing or what any of it meant. Because I wasn’t a Reliability Engineer, I hadn’t spent anytime in actuarial education or work, and no one explained what I was doing. I learned more about that job while doing other jobs around the company after that. Like certain pieces started clicking.

    It’s like when I was an industrial engineer. Never trained for it, but I had built up a reservoir of common sense which seemed to help things along.

    • #15
    • November 20, 2020, at 12:42 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  16. Chuck Thatcher

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Are you sure this in-DUH-vidual is an engineer? If so, engineering education must have detriorated badly over the last 40 years. This guy seems incapable of reasoning. That was the first thing they taught when I attended an engineering college back in the 1970s.

    I can only go by the email signature.

    Then again, I could tag myself as “Grand Poobah of Solder Dross, Esquire”, and who would gainsay me?

    There are lots of folks who claim the title “engineer” that have BAs rather than BSs. They may even be English or Studies majors. Having engineer in your title adds prestige – like calling a garbageman a sanitary engineer.

    There was a time, when I was in College, that I worked as a Petroleum Products Installation Engineer.

    • #16
    • November 20, 2020, at 2:09 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  17. HankRhody Freelance Philosopher Contributor

    Chuck (View Comment):
    There was a time, when I was in College, that I worked as a Petroleum Products Installation Engineer.

    Did you also wash windshields?

    • #17
    • November 20, 2020, at 2:14 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  18. Chuck Thatcher

    HankRhody Freelance Philosopher (View Comment):

    Chuck (View Comment):
    There was a time, when I was in College, that I worked as a Petroleum Products Installation Engineer.

    Did you also wash windshields?

    Probably but it’s been a few years.

    • #18
    • November 20, 2020, at 2:16 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  19. MiMac Thatcher

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Are you sure this in-DUH-vidual is an engineer? If so, engineering education must have detriorated badly over the last 40 years. This guy seems incapable of reasoning. That was the first thing they taught when I attended an engineering college back in the 1970s.

    He may have mainly studied under professors who want to “queer engineering”- I kid you not:

    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/queer-engineering-purdue-social-justice-warriors/

    this professor was at Virginia Tech and was recruited away by Purdue- both prestigious engineering schools.

    • #19
    • November 20, 2020, at 2:26 PM PST
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  20. Ontheleftcoast Member

    SkipSul: ectors and break them, so when a vehicle comes in with Y they just cut it all out and install X. You can get spade terminal crimpers at Home Depot,

    Or maybe Harbor Freight.

    You could dump that dialogue into one of those online cartoon generators with the robotic voices. It would be pretty funny.

    To someone it didn’t actually happen to.

    • #20
    • November 20, 2020, at 2:27 PM PST
    • 8 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  21. Sisyphus Coolidge
    Sisyphus Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I have dealt with political appointees from both parties. I have never seen the experience so perfectly replicated on the private side.

    • #21
    • November 20, 2020, at 2:48 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  22. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    • #22
    • November 20, 2020, at 3:08 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  23. Sisyphus Coolidge
    Sisyphus Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MiMac (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Are you sure this in-DUH-vidual is an engineer? If so, engineering education must have detriorated badly over the last 40 years. This guy seems incapable of reasoning. That was the first thing they taught when I attended an engineering college back in the 1970s.

    He may have mainly studied under professors who want to “queer engineering”- I kid you not:

    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/queer-engineering-purdue-social-justice-warriors/

    this professor was at Virginia Tech and was recruited away by Purdue- both prestigious engineering schools.

    As a manager I always made a point with regard to tiresome but unproductive personnel to praise them glowingly to the competition.

    • #23
    • November 20, 2020, at 3:13 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  24. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Are you sure this in-DUH-vidual is an engineer? If so, engineering education must have detriorated badly over the last 40 years. This guy seems incapable of reasoning. That was the first thing they taught when I attended an engineering college back in the 1970s.

    I can only go by the email signature.

    Then again, I could tag myself as “Grand Poobah of Solder Dross, Esquire”, and who would gainsay me?

    Might need to check it with the Undisputed King of Stuff, but he’ll likely grant the satrapy. 

    • #24
    • November 20, 2020, at 3:38 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  25. jmelvin Member

    His title wasn’t “application engineer” was it? I’ve run across some of those “engineers” that got the title based on their ability to select equipment from a catalog. Bring up broader engineering questions and you may get sent to an actual engineer.

    • #25
    • November 20, 2020, at 3:39 PM PST
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  26. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    TBA (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Are you sure this in-DUH-vidual is an engineer? If so, engineering education must have detriorated badly over the last 40 years. This guy seems incapable of reasoning. That was the first thing they taught when I attended an engineering college back in the 1970s.

    I can only go by the email signature.

    Then again, I could tag myself as “Grand Poobah of Solder Dross, Esquire”, and who would gainsay me?

    Might need to check it with the Undisputed King of Stuff, but he’ll likely grant the satrapy.

    The Emperor of Esoterica holds sway here.

    • #26
    • November 20, 2020, at 5:38 PM PST
    • 1 like
  27. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    jmelvin (View Comment):

    His title wasn’t “application engineer” was it? I’ve run across some of those “engineers” that got the title based on their ability to select equipment from a catalog. Bring up broader engineering questions and you may get sent to an actual engineer.

    My apps engineer is one of those rare people who is spectacular in the role. He has a 40 year encyclopedic memory for the ways things work in the field (as opposed to the way they were nominally designed to work – these are not the same thing). He’s also a very good trouble-shooter, and if I were to give him a box of 100 light bulbs he would instantly pluck out the one that wouldn’t work.

    But I do realize this is a rare combination of gifts.

    • #27
    • November 20, 2020, at 5:40 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  28. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    That’s all too familiar.

    • #28
    • November 20, 2020, at 5:42 PM PST
    • 1 like
  29. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    long discourse on the history of bus wiring

    Kind of buried the lede, didn’t you?

    • #29
    • November 20, 2020, at 6:36 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  30. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I know this is not your point, but still: We have found that connectors are invariably the tent pole in our supply chain, too. Somehow it takes forever to get them.

    • #30
    • November 22, 2020, at 5:56 AM PST
    • 5 likes