It was Albert Einstein who once said, “You can’t solve problems by using the same thinking that created them.” And solving problems is what engineers do, based on their accumulated knowledge of materials, properties, processes and applications – using both scientific/engineering and practical “hands on” approaches.  

What is knowledge?  

A wise person once told me that knowledge is a blend of information gathering (i.e. facts, data, ideas) coupled with experience and intuition aimed at accomplishing a specific purpose or to solve a specific problem.  

The problem today in many companies is that the mentoring system for young engineers is lacking – our engineering graduates are very smart, but often lack the practical knowledge that only experience brings. And coupled with an accelerated rate of manufacturing complexity, the job of gathering and assimilating heat-treat knowledge is becoming a daunting task.  

Heat treating is said to suffer from the “Rodney Dangerfield Complex” – we get no respect and continue to be poorly understood within the manufacturing community. It is said that the reason for this lies in the fact that:
  • Heat treating is a multi-variant technology
  • Heat treating involves a number of dynamically interrelated reactions occurring simultaneously
  • Heat treating has become even more complex given that equilibrium process analysis is no longer adequate
Heat-treating and process knowledge has traditionally been handed down over time, being incrementally driven, experience-based and evolutionary (as opposed to revolutionary). The empirical, trial-and-error approach of the past, consuming huge amounts of time, is highly inefficient, costly and often only marginally effective unless well managed over time.  

The new paradigm is to challenge the individual to gain knowledge and experience through personal interaction. Here is a list of just some of the ways to focus on and gain knowledge in one’s daily activities:  
  • Develop and maintain technical knowledge
  • Adopt an orientation to action and results 
  • Expect top performance 
  • Commit to quality and continuous improvement 
  • Be customer-driven
  • Commit to self development
  • Make timely and value-driven decisions
  • Solve Problems effectively
  • Be flexible
  • Be ethical
  • Support risk-taking
  • Resolve disputes fairly
  • Positively manage crisis situations
  • Provide recognition 
  • Coach others 
  • Minimize obstacles 
  • Provide feedback
  • Apply rules fairly 
  • Address deficiencies 
  • Use discipline appropriately
  • Perform with integrity 
  • Support organizational values  
  • Accept and meet responsibilities
  • Support teamwork                                            
  • Enhance the work environment                                 
  • See the big picture first, then look to the details                                                   
  • Be enthusiastic                                                               
  • Display resilience
  • Show concern for others                                  
  • Manage time                                                        
  • Manage meetings (don’t let meetings manage you)                                                        
  • Communicate effectively 
  • Keep others informed                                                      
  • Listen to others
If you are interested, we can explore this subject further and develop each of these concepts in more depth. Just let us know.