RFID TECHNOLOGY

October 25, 2010


I have just completed my ninth (9th) “white paper” and training guide for the web site PDHonline.  This site caters to individuals interested in technology and makes a concerted effort to inform and enlighten.  You do not have to be a professional engineer, mathematician, chemist, etc etc to enjoy the course material.  I would invite anyone who is interested in “how things work” to visit the site and take a look. 

I am attaching documentation that will give some indication as to what the course is about.  Hope you enjoy the following write-up.

RFID TECHNOLOGY

A TECHNOLOGY FOR CUTTING COSTS AND IMPROVING EFFICIENCY

Robert P. Jackson, PE

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

This course is structured to introduce the concepts of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID ) to individuals wishing to gain a detailed understanding of the operation, components, potential for cost savings and the potential for improvement in efficiency.  RFID technology has been called the most exciting “NEW” technology in the twenty-first century.  The uses today are remarkably varied.  We present six (6) case studies that provide examples of how diverse the applications can be and how those uses can greatly automate processes that once were manual in nature.  The benefits and drawbacks are discussed in depth as well as areas of interest when considering implementation.  We devote considerable time towards planning, implementation and manageability of the system and discuss in depth the following:

  • Ten(10) questions to ask when considering implementation of RFID technology
  • Standards, both domestic and international
  • Manageability of systems
  • RFID adoption guidelines
  • Complete list of vendors
  • Extended glossary of terms.

Each component required for operation is discussed in detail as well as the software necessary to “drive the system.”  The subject of privacy is an ongoing concern so this is presented as a “block” for discussion.

COURSE OUTLINE:

This four ( 4 ) hours course attempts to follow a logical progression, moving through three primary areas of focus.  These are as follows:

  • INTRODUCTION
  1. Interesting applications and case studies of actual usage
  2. History of RFID from early inception to the 21st century
  3. Benefits from use including ROI and improved efficiencies
  4. Drawbacks to incorporation
  • OPERATION
  1. Components available and necessary to accomplish specific goals
  2. Standards, both international and standards specific to the United States
  3. Privacy and Security and who’s looking out for you
  • MANAGEMENT OF SYSTEM
  1. Manageability of the overall systems
  2. Questions to ask before buying ( I devote a great deal of “ink” to this one due to the critical nature of being methodical prior to deciding upon incorporating RFID
  3. Conclusions
  4. List of vendors and suppliers
  5. Glossary ( I feel this is one of the most complete Glossaries available today. )

I have included many figures and tables in support of the text and feel these add a great deal of clarity to the overall course.    The case studies given and other applications point out the present day uses of RFID and those uses that could possibly be considered over the next decade.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

Upon completion of this course the student should have a thorough understanding of RFID concepts and will:

  • Be able to understand the numerous applications for the technology
  • Have an appreciation for the history of RFID and how the technology was used in the early years
  • Know the technological differences between RFID and barcode systems
  • Know the standards, international and domestic, that govern the usage for the various commercial systems
  • Know when to specify the use of UHF, VHF and microwave frequencies
  • Know the difference between “active” and “passive “systems and when each type is appropriate for various applications
  • Understand the privacy aspects when specifying and using the technology
  • Understand the cost / benefit concepts and when using barcodes is more desirable.  This is called total-cost-of-ownership (TCO)
  • Understand the design and fabrication of “tag” (transponder ) components and when an encapsulated tag is needed
  • Understand the immediate tangible benefits throughout a supply chain for distribution of a manufactured product
  • Understand the need for tag readers and how they operate
  • Understand the design and purpose of a tag antenna
  • Know the difference between a “read only” and “read/write” RFID system
  • Know which type of system needs a battery for operation
  • Know why direct line of site is not necessary for an RFID system
  • Have an understand for the range and how that range is dependent upon the frequency of the tag / reader combination
  • Have an understanding of the EPC ( Electronic Product Code ) and how that code is used relative to the overall process
  • Know that a “proper” EPC must have the following: 1.) Header, 2.) Manager Number, 3.) Object Class and 4.) Serial Number.
  • Know why RFID “chips” are extremely difficult to “hack” and why that contributes to a secure system
  • Know which company ( Wal-Mart ) is moving to RFID technology for most inbound containerized cargo and why that provides a tremendous benefit to their supply chain
  • Know why the challenge-response coding is so important and why that provides great security for hazardous materials, pharmaceuticals, weapons used by the DoD, classified documents, etc
  • Understand that “reader collision” can occur and produce errors in the system
  • Understand the terminology  “hiding and blocking” and “encrypting and rewriting”
  • Understand why many airlines are using RFID to track and control baggage
  • Have an understanding for the meaning of the acronyms: “EPC”, “EPCIS”, “ONS”, “WMS”, “ERP”, “UCC”, “UCCnet”, “UID”, “EAS”

INTENDED AUDIENCE:

This course is specifically for individuals desiring in-depth knowledge preparatory to making an investment in RFID technology.   It is a technical course but easily understood by “non-engineering” types.  As such, we dive into detailed explanations regarding topics such as UHF, VHF, microwave frequencies, “tags” (transponders), interrogation methodologies and equipment, “back-end” software, RFID antennas and other subjects necessary for a complete understanding of existing RFID technology.   With this in mind, people with the following disciplines would enjoy and benefit from taking this course:

  • Industrial engineers
  • Process engineers
  • System engineers
  • IT professionals
  • Engineering managers
  • CEOs dedicated to incorporating “best practices” into their supply chain methodologies for the improvement of asset management
  • COOs responsible for the day-to-day operation of a on-going commercial entity
  • CFOs responsible for  “paying the bills” and on the brink of approving an expenditure for RFID equipment and training
  • Warehouse supervisors
  • Time study specialists interested in improving response time for deliverables
  • Managers overseeing shipping and receiving operations in their respective facilities
  • Hospital administrators
  • Store managers responsible for inventories; i.e. Home Depot, Lowes, Wal-Mart, Sears, Best Buy, etc.
  • Managers required to catalogue and locate written documents critical to the operation of their organization; i.e. legal firms, hospital records, libraries, laboratory documents, etc
  • Personnel responsible for insuring against theft and shoplifting
  • Aerospace and airline personnel responsible for test equipment, ground equipment, assembly tools and fixtures,  repair depots, etc
  • Personnel associated with and vendors for the Department of Defense
  • City planners interested in improving traffic flow and streamlining toll-gate collections
  • Individuals responsible for controlling entry / exit portals for designated personnel only
  • Data acquisition specialists
  • Material expeditors

BENEFIT FOR ATTENDEES:

The purpose of this four (4) hour course is to provide necessary information so an individual will gain an appreciable understanding of the technology.  This certainly includes operational parameters, hardware and the necessary software to drive the system of components.  The course is structured to go beyond the basics and make it possible for a potential user to gain knowledge that will facilitate informed conversations with suppliers, interrogators and software specialists.  To support the text, we provide a comprehensive glossary of terms integral to an understanding of the technology.  After successful completion, an individual will have a much broader ability to recognize possible applications and determine if RFID is right for those applications.  Quite frankly, I feel the Glossary at the end of the course is worth the cost of the course itself.

There is a quiz at the end of the course which will provide a review and serve as a quick summary of the major points found in the text.

COURSE INTRODUCTION:

Radio Frequency Identification ( RFID ) is an automated means of using radio waves to identify and track the presence and movement of objects.  RFID has been called “the first important technology of the 21st century” and has become one of the most “talked-about” technologies in business and government today.  The application of RFID has definite benefits relative to tracking objects in supply chain movement.  It allows for the positive identification and control of tangible objects such as:

  • Incoming and outgoing pallets cycling through a warehouse environment
  • Tracking hazardous materials
  • To aid documentation of cycle times
  • Containerized cargo entering  ports of call
  • WIP ( work in process ) inventories
  • “Tags” applied to passports encrypted with information detailing date of birth, address, country of origin, etc.
  • Inventories for retail and commercial establishments
  • Airline baggage identification
  • Access control

There have been several “dooms-day” profits crying that RFID “chips” will be applied to individuals and these chips will be the “mark of the beast” mentioned in the Bible. Anyone desirous of pursuing commercial ends will need this “mark of the beast” to do business.  Until that happens, this course will address the more useful applications of that marvelous technology and strive to help the student understand the verity of application possibilities and the hardware necessary to bring about those applications.

COURSE SUMMARY:

RFID is one of those technologies that “sneaks up” on you.  It has actually been in use for quite a few years and has taken several forms, such as:

  • Theft prevention
  • Access control  via card readers
  • Automated toll road processing

These uses are very visible and “out front” relative to uses within a warehouse, library, or commercial storage area for equipment.  RFID was discovered long before companion technologies made it possible for commercial use.  The actual history is quite fascinating and definitely shows an evolutionary process and not a revolutionary process.  We devote a section to the history of RFID and show how each decade has brought additional development that truly make it a technology of the 21st century.   With this being said, we have only scratched the surface of its potential.  This is due, in part, to the privacy aspects of the technology.  Independent bodies are addressing these concerns in an ongoing fashion.  The money saved through improved operating efficiencies can be very very significant.  If you feel the need to “do it better”, then RFID is definitely worth the look.  Those companies presently using bar code techniques will recognize definite similarities, a yet many differences, between the two technologies.  The process of incorporation will be much the same with “up-front” planning a real must for success.

 

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UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE

October 22, 2010


UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE

Merriam-Webster defines language as “A systematic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized signs, sounds, gestures or marks having understood meanings.”  The operative words in this definition are ‘means of communicating’ and ‘understood meanings’.  There are 116 different “official” languages spoken on our planet today but 6900 languages AND dialects. The difference between a language and a dialect can be somewhat arbitrary so care must be taken when doing a “count”.  English, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Spanish etc, all have specific and peculiar dialects; not to mention slang words and expressions so the discernment between a language and a dialect may be somewhat confusing to say the least.. 

The book of Genesis (Genesis 11: vs. 1-9) recounts a period of time, during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, when an attempt was made, by mankind, to become equal with God and that one language was spoken by all the people.  We are told that the attempt was not met with too much favor and God was pretty turned off by the whole thing.  Go figure!    With this being the case, He, decided to confound their language so that no one understood the other.  This, as you might expect, lead to significant confusion and a great deal of “babbling” resulted.  (Imagine a session of our United States Congress.)  Another significant result was the dispersion of mankind over the earth—another direct result from their unwise attempt.  This dispersion of the populace “placed” a specific language in a specific location and that “stuck”. 

Regardless of the language spoken, the very basic components of any language are similar; i.e. nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, etc.  You get the picture. The use and structure of these language elements within a sentence do vary.  This fact is the essence of a particular language itself. 

Would mankind not benefit from a common language?  Would commerce not be greatly simplified if we could all understand each other? Think of all the money saved if everything written and everything spoken—every road sign and every label on a can of soup—could be read by 6.8 billion people.  Why oh why have we not worked towards that over the centuries as a collective species.  Surely someone has had that thought before.  OK, national pride, but let’s swallow our collective egos and admit that we would be well-served by the movement, ever so gradual, towards one universal language.  Let me backup one minute.  We do have one example of a world-wide common language—

MATHEMATICS

Like all other languages, it has its own grammar, syntax, vocabulary, and word order, synonyms, negations, conventions, abbreviations, sentence and paragraph structure.  Those elements do exist AND they are universal.  No matter what language I speak, the formula for the area of a circle is A=π/4 (D)²

  • π  =  3.14159 26535 89793
  • log(10)e  =  0.43429 44819 03252
  • (x+y)(x-y)  =  x²-y²
  • R(1),R(2)  =  [-b ± ( b²-4ac)]^0.5/2a
  • The prime numbers are 2,3,5,7,11,13,17,19,23,29,31,37—You get the picture.
  • sinѲcscѲ = 1

 Mathematics has developed over the past 2500 years and is really one of the very oldest of the “sciences”. One remarkably significant development was the use of zero (0)—which has only been “in fashion” over the past millennium.  Centuries ago, men such as Euclid and Archimedes made the following discoveries and the following pronouncements:

If a straight line be cut at random, the square on the whole is equal to the squares on the segments and twice the rectangle contained by the segments. (Euclid, Elements, II.4, 300 B.C.) This lead to the formula:  (a + b)2 = a2 + b2 + 2ab

The area of any circle is equal to a right-angled triangle in which one of the sides about the right angle is equal to the radius, and the other to the circumference, of the circle. (Archimedes, Measurement of a Circle, (225 B.C.)  Again, this gives us the following formula: 

A = 2pr·r/2 = pr 2 

These discoveries and these accompanying formulas work for ANY language we might speak. Mathematics then becomes the UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE.

With that being the case, why do we not introduce the “Language of Mathematics” to our middle-school and high school pupils?  Is any school district doing that?  I know several countries in Western Europe started this practice some years ago with marvelous results.  This “language” is taught prior to the introduction of Algebra and certainly prior to Differential Equations.  It has been proven extremely effective and beneficial for those students who are intimidated by the subject.  The “dread” melts away as the syntax and structure becomes evident.  Coupled with this introduction is a semester on the great men and women of mathematics—their lives, their families, were they lived, what they ate, what they smoked, how they survived on a math teacher’s salary.  These people had lives and by some accounts were absolutely fascinating individuals in their own right.  Sir Isaac Newton invented calculus, was a real grouch, a real pain in the drain AND, had been jilted in his earlier years.  Never married, never (again) even had a girlfriend, etc etc.  You get the picture.  The greatest mathematicians of all time are said to be the following:

Isaac Newton

Carl F. Gauss

Archimedes

Leonhard Euler

Euclid

  Bernhard Riemann

Henri Poincaré

David Hilbert

Joseph-Louis Lagrange

Gottfried W. Leibniz

  Alexander Grothendieck

Pierre de Fermat

Niels Abel

Évariste Galois

John von Neumann


Srinivasa Ramanujan

Karl W. T. Weierstrass

Brahmagupta

René Déscartes

Augustin Cauchy

  Carl G. J. Jacobi

Hermann K. H. Weyl

Peter G. L. Dirichlet

Leonardo `Fibonacci’

Georg Cantor

  Arthur Cayley

Emma Noether

Eudoxus of Cnidus

Muhammed al-Khowârizmi

Pythagoras of Samos

What do we really know about these guys?  Do we ever study them when we use their wonderful work?  I think not.  I honestly believe the study would be much more enjoyable IF we knew something about the men and women making the contributions they did.   Think about it.  PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!

ON THE BRINK

October 20, 2010


ON THE BRINK

The data and information used in this document results from a Congressional Hearing conducted by Mr. John F. Tierney for the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs.  This hearing occurred in Washington, D.C. on September 22, 2010.  The individuals providing testimony are as follows:

  1. 1.       Mr. Jeff Faux
  2. 2.       Mr. Mark A. Gordon
  3. 3.       Mr. Michael R. Wessel
  4. 4.       Mr. John F. Tierney

Other documents referenced are as follows:

  1. 1.       “The DoD Manufacturing Technology Program”
  2. 2.       “Manufacturing Insecurity”

Selected excerpts from these documents will be given as italicized.  My comments will be in standard eleven point text.

The Honorable John F. Tierney chaired the hearing and called the assembly due to great concern voiced by the Department of Defense.  

I have been associated with manufacturing since 1961 and have performed as a graduate engineer since 1970.  During this period of time, I have seen many initiatives take effect—some lasting and some fading away.  Programs such as Six Sigma, Lean Engineering, Lean Manufacturing, Reliability Methodology, KanBan Scheduling, Statistical Process Control, etc have added greatly to improved quality, efficiency and the overall cost savings for manufacturing processes.  The trend towards automation, digital control of processes and timely reporting of quality “markers” has added remarkable improvements over the years and has allowed the United States to compete with any country in the world.

One trend that is very disturbing is the flight of manufacturing from the United States to countries abroad.  We have lost, and are losing, our manufacturing base at an alarming rate!  One trip to any department store will support that fact.  “Made in America” no longer can be found on most consumer items we purchase.   Stores such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Toys-R-Us and Radio Shack depend upon foreign sources to remain low cost providers.  When I worked for General Electric, we had a mandate that at least 30% of all components must come from LCC ( Low Cost Countries ).  A real culture change for most  engineering “types” working for the company.   For decades, manufacturing has been the backbone of the American economy.  The United States has been known as the land of innovation, the home of the automobile, the computer and the jet plane.  These innovations led to good jobs for hardworking Americans.  American manufacturing is the bastion of quality, where the words “Made in America” signify superior craftsmanship, durability and value.    This movement abroad has created one huge problem—the defense of this great nation is now dependent upon the “good graces” of China, South Korea, Mexico, Japan, India etc.  There is no longer the requirement for components going into our most sophisticated weapons systems to be manufactured in the United States.

I would like now to list several “cuts” from the testimony given during the hearings that took place this past September.  You will become aware of  the deep concerns from these experts.

  • Manufacturing jobs have been dropping steadily over the last several decades.  After WWII, manufacturing accounted for 40% of American jobs; today, that number is closer to 11%.
  • Outsourcing takes control of the supply chain out of our hands.  When foreign companies, and governments, control the production of necessary parts, our critical defense needs are subject to geopolitical forces that are beyond our control. In  2003, a Swiss company decided to delay delivery of essential parts for the Pentagon’s Joint Direct Attach Munitions—commonly known  as “smart bombs” –due to their ability to pinpoint targets.  The Swiss government’s opposition was a result of their dislike for the war in Iraq.  Not only did this force the DoD to acquire these parts at a higher price, there was a significant delay in getting these munitions to our forces overseas.  Lives were lost.
  • There have been countless situations where the DoD has received foreign parts that did not meet quality standards, including substandard and counterfeit materials.
  • China produces—and therefore controls—97% of rare earth oxides.  It would take about 15 years to establish a domestic supply chain.  The national security implications of this imbalance are impossible to ignore.
  • There are not enough highly skilled workers to perform the critical tasks needed to sustain our industrial base.  We have more people retiring than entering the manufacturing workforce, which means companies that want to build in America cannot find workers with the right skills to do so.
  • We have been running trade deficit in manufacturing for over thirty (30) years, relentlessly off-shoring production and steadily losing ground in our capacity to produce cutting edge technologies.
  • Innovation, design and engineering follow production. For years, US policy-makers have rationalized the movement overseas by manufacturing on the grounds that the technical jobs and capacity would remain in the United States.  THIS IS A JOKE (MY words!!)
  • Seventy percent (70%) of the industrial R&D is performed by manufacturing-based companies and the bulk of that R&D is applicable to manufacturing processes and procedures.
  • China now holds close to two and one-half TRILLION dollars of our IOUs.   (YOU ARE BRAVER THAN I AM IF THIS DOES NOT SCARE THE PANTS OFF YOU!)
  •  CEOs now regularly acknowledge and even boast that they are “global”, not American corporations.  The CEO of Cisco Systems—a major military contractor—stated that “it is our outline to promote a strategy to become a Chinese company.”
  •  America’s financial “elite is definitely aware that if manufacturing industries shrink, so would the political power of the strongest unions.  The unions definitely interfere with their “vision” for America.  Over the past two decades, the United States has consistently subsidized, protected and rescued the banking and finance sector.  Among the perverse results of this “too Big to Fail” industrial policy has been the systematic redistribution of capital from the making of products from the manufacturing sectors to the making of products on Wall Street. 

There are only three way of creating wealth; 1.) Grow it, 2.)  Dig it, or 3.) Make it.  Manufacturing multiplies each dollar spent within the sector into an additional $1.41 dollars of economic activity—higher than any other economic sector.  Hopefully, it is not too late to reverse this trend although I see nothing from the political “hacks” in Washington that would indicate specific movement back towards American manufacturing.  This needs to worry all of us.  We are continuing to dig a deep deep hole for the security of our country.


THE BEST ENGINEERING SCHOOLS

Our country is very blessed with excellent schools of higher education and I personally think, correction, I know we have the best schools in the world.  Our engineering schools take students “wet behind the ears” and produce remarkably productive and resourceful professional citizens.  In my opinion (and I’m quite biased in this area) our engineering schools are the best in the world—-hands down!  In the United States though, most entering freshmen would rather be anything other than engineers due to the absence of adequate compensation and the absence of appreciation over a lifetime of work.  That situation is very different than most parts of the world.   Let’s face it, in the United States, engineers don‘t make much money in comparison to other professions.  Those who really “make it” move from engineering into management or succeed in a business of their own.  The number of engineers graduating each year pales in comparison to the number from China and India.  This will eventually catch up with us unless our country moves all manufacturing, research and development and other technical endeavors abroad.  If this occurs, there will be no real need for engineers.  Already this year, China has bested our efforts relative to patents awarded. Already this year, our “executive branch” has gutted NASA.  NASA now has no real direction and layoffs are underway.  Personnel that will never be replaced, certainly within my lifetime. Our country has the second highest corporate tax rates of any country in the world and yet we wonder why we have a ten (10 ) percent unemployment.  Congress needs to do the numbers.  I run a two-man engineering consulting organization and you would  not believe the taxes I pay on an annual basis. 

OK, let us get away from the doom and gloom.  What makes an engineering school great?  What combined elements produce the very best environment for retaining and educating a student?  Given below are those happy circumstances presented by the US News & World Report which make for the most successful teaching institutions.

  • FUNDING—Say anything you like to but having the necessary money is critical to a teaching institution.  Money attracts the very best faculty.  Money buys the very best equipment. Money allows for grants, student loans, etc.  The lack thereof is evident in the classroom, student dorms, campus grounds, student facilities, etc.    The school that has the most money provides the best all-around atmosphere for teachers and pupils.
  • RESEARCH ORIENTED—Make no mistake about it, an engineering school that teaches AND conducts research will be miles ahead of one that merely teaches.  Governmental and commercial research and development is necessary in today’s world if a school is to maintain the right circumstances and attract the best teachers and the best students.
  • STUDENT / TEACHER RATIO—Today, this is no real problem because fewer and fewer students are attracted to engineering.  In my day, a proper classroom size was approximately fifteen students to one teacher.  The very best teaching environments provide this, or lower, student / teacher ratio.
  • QUALITY OF FACULTY—This is almost self-explanatory.  The best schools can attract the best teachers and the most gifted teachers.  This is tricky because there are many academically qualified teachers; i.e. good technicians, who can’t teach.  They have no enthusiasm for the classroom and just don’t seem to “get it across”.  Tenure is another subject for another day.
  • SIX  (6) YEAR GRADUATION RATE—Some schools seem to go out of their way to see how many students they can fail out freshman year.  I personally think it is appalling that the attrition rate, in engineering, for the first two years is between fifty and sixty-six percent.  At my school, the dropout rate for mechanical engineering, the first year, was fifty-five percent.  Ridiculous!!!! Absolutely ridiculous!  My professors were basically too involved with other endeavors to worry about their freshman or sophomore students because they knew the numbers.  Strangely enough, junior and senior year—they would go to the wall for a student.  Go figure.
  • DIVERSITY—Some schools strive for diversity in the classroom, therefore, some students are admitted based upon gender or race.  I have absolutely no problem with that unless it becomes the deciding factor instead of academic ability and those students do not displace more qualified applicants.
  • COURSE OFFERINGS—Self-explanatory.
  • AVAILABILITY OF SCHOLARSHIPS AND GRANTS—The best students do not always have wealthy parents.  As a matter of fact in most cases, that is the case.  Scholarships and grants MUST be available in order to maintain the most talented student body.  The availability of student loans and grants is a MUST!
  • QUALITY OF ONCAMPUS LIFE– Let’s face facts, even the most academically talented school will not thrive if the dorms are rat-infested—if the cafeteria serves grade “D” food—if there are no internet connections—if there is absolutely nothing to do over the weekend.  The students, even the most gifted students, simply will not enroll.  Word gets around quickly.  If you don’t believe that, talk to any graduating senior in high school and they can tell you, to a man, which school is the “best party school”.  Dollar to a doughnut they all know.  The same is true for “life on campus”.
  • HOW MANY TENURED TEACHERS TEACH—TAs (teaching assistants) are fine, sometimes, but a student wants a teacher who has more than a little “gray hair”.  I want the guy or girl, who wrote the book.  
  • ENTERING FRESHMAN SAT AND ACT TEST SCORES—The most academically accomplished entering class will be the class that requires zero remedial work.  Consequently less money spent for remedial teaching.  This statistic is always kept by the administration.  The money devoted to remedial teaching can be devoted to other pursuits, if the student body is fully prepared.  The best schools always attract the best students.
  • BIG VS SMALL—Many smaller schools have wonderful engineering departments.  I am thinking about schools such as 1.) Rose-Hulman, 2.) Harvey Mudd, 3.) Olin, 4.) Rice University, 5.) University of Rochester, 6.) Carnegie Mellon and 7.) Rensselear Polytechnic Institute.  Larger schools, such as 1.) MIT, 2.) Georgia Tech, 3.)University of Chicago, 4.) CalPoly, etc are obviously wonderful schools also.  The student must decide big vs small.  The smaller schools can be every bit as academically progressive as the larger schools.  The only problem here is—sometimes the larger schools have greater endowments consequently offer better scholarships and grants to the student body at large and have greater research possibilities.

With the above being  given criteria, here is the list provided by the US News & World Report as to their opinion relative to the best engineering schools in the nation.  I’m going to let you draw your own conclusions.

  Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2 Stanford University (CA)
3 University of California–Berkeley
4 Georgia Institute of Technology
4 University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
6 California Institute of Technology
6 University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign
8 Carnegie Mellon University (PA)
9 Cornell University (NY)
9 Purdue University–West Lafayette (IN)
9 University of Texas–Austin
12 University of Southern California
13 Texas A&M University–College Station
14 University of Wisconsin–Madison
15 University of California–San Diego
16 Princeton University (NJ)
17 Penn State University–University Park
17 University of Maryland–College Park
19 Northwestern University (IL)
19 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (NY)
21 University of California–Los Angeles
22 Ohio State University
23 University of Minnesota–Twin Cities
24 Johns Hopkins University (MD)
25 Harvard University (MA)
25 University of California–Santa Barbara
25 Virginia Tech
28 North Carolina State University
28 Rice University (TX)
30 University of Colorado–Boulder
31 Columbia University (Fu Foundation) (NY)
31 University of Washington
33 Duke University (NC)
33 University of Pennsylvania
35 University of Florida
36 University of California–Davis
36 University of Virginia
38 Case Western Reserve University (OH)
38 Rutgers State University–New Brunswick (NJ)
40 Iowa State University
40 Lehigh University (PA)
40 Washington University in St. Louis
43 Michigan State University
44 University of Arizona
44 University of Rochester (NY)
44 Yale University (CT)
47 University of Delaware
47 University of New Mexico
49 Arizona State University

TEN (10) STEPS TO ACCELERATE YOUR CAREER

I recently read an excellent article written by Mr. Brad Kenney.  Mr. Kenney is a contributing editor for the magazine “Industry Week”.  I know that everyone is unique relative to interest, hobbies, goals, profession, etc, but I really think Mr. Kenney nailed this one.  His observations apply solely to those of us who apply our talents in the “working world” and who wish to advance in that world.  I would like now to indicate those ten (10) steps he suggests.  The “headers” are his—the comments are mine and result from 42 years working as a “blue-collar” engineer.  Here we go:

1.       MAKE YOURSELF VISIBLE (You have to press to make an impression.) Now when we say visible, we mean visible in a good way.  Being a “pain in the drain” will get you notoriety but can also get you fired.   Hard work is absolutely essential for success but let’s face facts, everyone works hard.  You are not alone in this department.  Working hard just levels the playing field.  Needing to work hard “is a given” in the corporate world today.  Be a slacker and see what you get.  You really need to build your PERSONAL BRAND. Networking and getting to know people in other areas of your business can provide remarkably valuable resources when push comes to shove and time is critical.  Craw out of the woodwork and invest in some self-promotion.   No one will do this for you.

2.       SELF DEVELOPMENT IS CONTINUOUS AND CRITICAL. Mr. Kenney has one great observation—“to think outside the box means you have to live outside the box”.   Creativity and problem solving are definitely stifled by living an insulated life.  You cannot be content with your existing skill set no matter how developed and usable it is.  You will not survive in the years to come relative to the tremendous pace of technology in today’s world.  You must do those things, those activities that allow you to “stretch”. Engage!  Become involved!  Turn off the TV, put down the Cheetos and as NIKE says—“Just Do It”.

3.       TO SUCCEED YOURSELF—YOU MUST INVEST IN THE SUCCESS OF OTHERS  The only person you impress by being a one man show is yourself.  If you are one member of a team you must be a team player.  You must adopt the attitude that says for me to succeed, we all must succeed.  Aid the efforts of others.  Go the extra mile to insure their success.  Be a mentor to them.

4.       WORK IS DAILY COMPETITION—This might seem odd since it follows item number 3 but, you must excel as an INDIVIDUAL team member.  Management, as well as your peers, will know what you do and how well you do it.  If you bitch and moan, you will become the guy who always bitches and moans.  If you complete your personal assignments on time and with accuracy, you will be the guy who is known for pulling his weight and can the one who can be depended upon.  Everyone is watching.  Everyone takes “mental notes” relative to individual performance.  Never underestimate who is watching your performance.

5.       BE OPEN WITH YOUR MANAGERS AND MENTORS  Talk to your managers and mentors about your ideas, your ambitions and discuss with them where you fit into the organization.  This might sound a bit risky but they will appreciate your candor and you will earn their respect for being open and honest.

6.       HANG WITH THE WINNERS  Tried but true and easy to forget.  Seek out relationships with people who will be honest with you.  This not only concerns praise and support but in those times when you might stray from the straight and narrow.  Those people, who will constructively challenge you when you need it, are extremely important to your career.

7.       GET OUT BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE Virtually no one works for the same company forever.  Those days are over for the vast majority of people.  Denial is a very dangerous thing and has never been a virtue.  Do not become anesthetized to your surroundings.  If your feel your company is going nowhere, and fast—get out.  Start looking.  When layoffs occur, paychecks are late, one contract after the other is rejected, you know something bad is probably on the way.  This takes some courage but it is absolutely necessary to YOUR survival.  Evaluate what you feel might be done to pull the company out of the doldrums.  Reverse the trend.  Approach management with those actions you feel will be beneficial to the overall company effort.   If this fails and your words fall on deaf ears, start looking.

8.       FOLLOW THE RULES  I think this one is self-explanatory.  You can’t cheat on you homework.  ALWAYS tell the truth as you know it.  Do not circumvent the rules.  Do not violate your company’s values.

9.       KNOW YOURSELF  Do you project ability, confidence, enthusiasm, optimism.  Do you have good work habits; i.e. on time, motivated when working, willing to stay late when asked and needed?  Do you show up?  In short, can you be trusted?

10.   SEE THE BIG PICTURE   You cannot always “major on the minors”.  Don’t waste time on trivia.  Tackle the big problems first.  In other words—don’t be like Congress!  Do the tough jobs first and get them out of the way.  Think in broader stokes so you can capitalize on new trends and new technologies.  Talk with management and respectively ask for all of the story.

 

 

There are probably others we could add but I felt this list was excellent.  I certainly hope you find some value when reading it.

 

Bob Jackson

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