Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Report

I arrived at the Waco Central Library a little before we needed to be there. I met Lance Martin, the L-3 Communications PR man. He introduced me to the moderator (I forgot his name). He is sitting on the left side of the table. I am sitting next to him, then Scott Jenkins, next is Tracy Duvall, and on the other end is Rick Hingtgen. Eric and Jeanette were there as support and took these pictures.

The event began with the library manager discussing the book a bit and providing an introduction.

The MC had some canned questions that he asked.

What inspired you to choose engineering as a profession... etcetera.

It seems that my answers were at odds with others on the panel in some areas. They all seemed to have a yearning to be engineers from a fairly early age in their lives. They told of people that were of great influence to them and why they chose aerospace.

I had to indicate that I was not really wanting to be an aerospace engineer, but I wanted to work on fast cars. I was slow in starting school and instead went on a proselyting mission for my church and spent 2 years in Argentina. As an end to that effort I was assigned the task of writing out my lifetime goals. Getting a degree was one of those goals. I chose Civil Engineering for some reason unknown to me. When I looked for a job I had two choices, one in Orange County California, and the other in Greenville, Texas. I chose Texas because I would probably be able to live on what they offered.

After the panel discussions were over then people were free to come and see some of the gee-whiz items that we brought. I had a fuse pin from the Trent1000 test engine program, where a Rolls-Royce engine was put on a 747 in place of one of the four regular engines. The fuse pin is designed to fail between the needed strength in service and the strength that the wing possesses. You don't want a failed engine to tear up the wing.

I also brought a poster of the Magellan Probe that went to map the surface of Venus. I did not do work on Magellan, but I was familiar with it and I worked on another spacecraft the used some similar structure. I designed the composite structural tubes that were the space frame of that satellite. I discussed with a couple people the complexities of the shear pin and the composite structural tube and fitting.

The Magellan Probe had to figure out where it was in space by using onboard computers and star-trackers. Maps of the heavens were stored on the craft and the logic in its programming had to be able to determine how it was oriented on its own. Small rocket motors on the space frame were used to orient the spacecraft either pointing at the surface of Venus or at Earth. The same antenna, the big one, was used to map the surface using SAR (synthetic aperture RADAR) and communicate with the control station on Earth. The spacecraft would alternately position itself for the appropriate task by the login on-board.

There were a few people that came and expressed their pleasure with us for having expended our time to come be on the panel.

Jeanette said that I was the smartest. Thank you honey, I love you.


  1. I am really impressed. I enjoy the reports you add to your BLOG.

    Oh, that I would have made some better choices in my life!


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