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Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research (HYPER) Laboratory Cool. Fuel.

A Systemic, Land-Grant inspired, Vision for WSU and MME

It’s fall semester and a time for new beginnings at WSU. WSU’s new Provost Mitzi Montoyo is beginning the welcomed process of developing a new Vision/Mission statement for the WSU system. This will not be easy. In the last two weeks I’ve been told by several people that, “vision statements are pointless” and “every Land-grant school has the same vision/mission”. I couldn’t disagree more. In fact, I believe these statements are precisely our system’s problem. Those of you that are in-tune to the campus culture and have read My WSU Drive-to-25 recommendations and Taking Land-Grant for Granted posts know that this is a … » More …

Celebrating the lifetime accomplishments of a Palouse Titan — Richard T Jacobsen

I received word yesterday that my first graduate studies advisor, Richard T (Jake) Jacobsen, passed away. His exemplary contributions to universities on the Palouse, the greater state of Idaho, the field of thermophysical properties research, and the careers of many researchers warrants recognition. To state it simply, I would not be where I am in life had he not taken the chance on hiring a cocky football player with a poor GPA nearly 15 years ago.

What people tend to overlook is his long-term contributions to the universities on the Palouse. Jake graduated with his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Idaho (UI) … » More …

Orbital TIG Welding – How HYPER strives for the best welds!

Sealing anything at cryogenic temperatures requires extremely tight tolerances. If tight tolerances are not considered, holes may open at the source of the seal, allowing cold leaks to occur as referenced in this past post. In today’s How To, we’re going to discuss how to weld tubes together utilizing orbital TIG welding. Orbital welding has given the lab an advantage in that all our welds minimize human error and the whole operation is computer automated. The system being used is Swagelok’s M200 orbital welding system, which was donated to our lab through the Boeing Cybergrant program. The procedure is as follows:

Procedure:

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Taking two or going deep for three: Deciding between a M.S. and Ph.D.

Many students have been asking for advice lately on whether to do a Ph.D. or M.S. degree in the HYPER lab. Deciding between a Ph.D. or M.S. was a very different decision when I was a senior at the University of Idaho in 2005. But what I’ve found is that despite the field of engineering changing considerably over that time, much of the old dogma and advice out in industry has not. Hence, the students are getting very different advice and struggling to decide what to believe. Given the importance of this decision (it’ll only be years of your life), it’s important to set the … » More …

On Onboarding

There comes a time when every community/team/organization must onboard new members to maintain vibrant resiliency while avoiding the pitfalls of isolationism and nepotism. Community is a fickle thing. You’d think we’d be better at this considering America as the cultural melting pot. Somehow though I’ve never received any formal training or discussion on the importance of initial conditions in the team building process. For those of you preparing to enter a new community, understanding what you need … » More …

Applying Ethical Standards in Engineering

I’ve sadly had to resort to ethical standards at several points in my (still brief) career. The odds are that you too will be faced with an ethical dilemma during engineering practice. The purpose of this post is to A) establish the ethical standards governing our field, B) present a procedure for applying those ethical standards, C) applying the procedure through several examples I’ve directly encountered, and D) a last resort.
The ASME Code of Ethics
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is the society governing the mechanical engineering profession and controls membership and associations. ASME has a site walking you through … » More …

Rethinking Reports

I created the image above to look like a quality cover page of a technical report students would typically submit in my ME 406: Experimental Design course. The hand is included to make a point — when is the last time you were submitted a paper report you had to open by hand? Many of us in academia can quickly cite multiple examples. While many of us have remained reticent to digital trends enabled by the internet, times are quickly changing. The … » More …

A story of presentations

I’m going to let you in on a secret I’ve kept for a long time —

I’ve given talks nearly every day for over a decade but presentations still make me nervous. I used to get so nervous that I’d break out in hives. My hands would get clammy and cold. My knees would stiffen up. I sometimes started stuttering.

A few years back I was so nervous and tired during a presentation that I began hearing an alarm going off in the hallway outside the classroom; only to realize that it was in my head and I’d stopped, mid sentence, on record, for an … » More …

Conflict Communication

The single largest source of waste in all of humanity is conflict. Yet conflict is essential for change. The grand challenge of humanity is having appropriate context for conflict and mechanisms for efficient resolution. So why is it that in all of engineering education we never provide formal training on conflict communication and resolution?

In 5th through 8th grades I was selected by my teachers to participate in an experimental peer-conflict mediation program that had just started in my school district. The premise was simple — teach students how to resolve conflicts among their peers and you’ll have less conflict and less need for administrative … » More …

How to have a meeting

Meetings are the most basic and fundamental form of information exchange in any society, perhaps in all of humanity. Once we developed the ability to talk, having meetings was next, before we could read or write. Yet, thinking back to my education as an engineer, not once do I remember being taught explicit skills for how to have an effective meeting. I’m not aware of a single continuous improvement exercise focusing on effective meetings in my time at WSU. It’s always assumed we have the skills to run a meeting. At the same time it’s commonly assumed that meetings are a waste of time. So … » More …