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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics


Lynnette Reese holds a B.S.E.E from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Lynnette has worked at Mouser Electronics, Texas Instruments, Freescale (now NXP), and Cypress Semiconductor. Lynnette has three kids and occasionally runs benign experiments on them. She is currently saving for the kids’ college and eventual therapy once they find out that cauliflower isn’t a rare albino broccoli (and other white lies.)


Burning Yourself on a Resistor Lynnette Reese
Yes, it is possible to burn the $#*&! out of yourself on a resistor….a tiny little resistor. I did this under the supervision of an electronics technician at a bench job I had in college. The tech had hair down to his waist, wore glasses, and confirmed the imagery in Joe Jackson’s lyrics for Soul Kiss: “And all the hippies work for IBM.” As a freshman, I worked in the basement of the Physics department at LSU in the electronics repair shop. I knew nothing. He knew that I knew nothing.

Math: the Language of Engineers, Scientists, and Artists Alike Lynnette Reese
Neil Armstrong’s favorite quote was "Science is about what is, engineering is about what can be.” STEM, and now STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) promote these areas for growth. Some might consider the “Art” in STEAM to be out of place, but I disagree. Engineers need cross-pollination, and have you seen some of the incredible art using open source technology?

Make Your Own Job with Open Source Hardware: What Students Don’t Know Lynnette Reese
When jobs are scarce, open source hardware is opening doors for young engineers to gain experience, offering an alternative to simply waiting in between job searches. In slow economic times, engineers (and non-engineers alike) can go straight toward working for themselves, designing custom electronics systems for low volume applications such as vending machines, environmental data logging, drones for police, or designing custom solutions as consultants.

Engineering Horror Stories #2 Lynnette Reese
In the purely scientific interest of allowing others to learn from mistakes that I have not made myself but either witnessed or heard about, let’s hear Story #2 (OK, that’s purposely tongue –in-cheek; do you really think I would tell you about stuff I have broken? Usually it’s something in my house that I’m trying to do myself.)

Engineering Horror Stories Lynnette Reese
I recently commented to a colleague that engineers either learn by “letting the smoke out” of something (breaking it) or they can learn vicariously through another’s mistakes, if the mistake is catastrophic enough. I don’t have a lot of these, but I have noticed that engineering horror stories are effective training tools and often funny.

How to Crash an Engineering Course at Rice University Lynnette Reese
I never thought that I would be sitting in on an EE class, years after graduating, taught by a Professor Emeritus at Rice University. I snuck in at the tail end of the course when he was in the middle of discussing op amps. I feel so guilty; I haven’t paid the university a dime, but I am excited to be here. I settle in and listen for a while. No one asks any questions; I assume they are all busy taking notes. Then I sped up time a bit so things would go 25% faster, since I had seen most of this before. It’s handy, but you have to have a MOOC to do that.

Licking Salt Creek Lynnette Reese
I had an environmental monitoring project at Salt Creek in Aspermont, Texas, a few years back. If you have never been to Aspermont, you can get the total experience with a video of a slow tumbleweed. Salt Creek in Aspermont has off-the charts salinity. There’s a huge salt dome that contaminates the spring source for the creek, and this super-salty water eventually meets up with the Brazos River. The group that owned the property wanted to know the flow, volume, and salinity of the creek. We were to set-up monitoring at the base of a small valley, near a concrete bridge.

Wonder Twins Powers Activate! Lynnette Reese
Open source is part of some totally cool ideas. The NFC ring by Jon MecLear, funded by crowdsourcing, is one example of how technology migrates into every area of our lives. NFC stands for Near Field Communication. This ring looks like a wedding band. But think about how easy it would be to wear a ring that could replace the fob to unlock your car, automatically unlock your smart phone or tablet when you pick it up, and unlock your front door.

Physics for Nuns Lynnette Reese
When I was in college, I held 3 part time jobs, of which one of them was tutoring Physics. Not that I was an expert or anything, but someone had to do it. Most of the time I spent the tutoring hours working on my own assignments. All of it is just a blur now, except one person, a nun. She was determined to make a passing grade, and she started coming in about a third of the way through the semester. I quickly figured out that algebra is kind of important to physical laws like F=mA. It seemed so simple to me, so intuitive, so I started out rattling off what force was, mass, and how acceleration played a part. The glazed look in her eyes told me I needed to step back a bit. So we began exploring the mathematical relationship.

Why Aliens Know Math Lynnette Reese
I spent most of Saturday at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History for Engineer’s Week. I sat at a table with half a dozen kids at a time, showing them how to connect little DC motors to batteries, and exploring and explaining series and parallel connections for the braver ones. We had several DC motors with a glue stick off center on the shaft of the motor so it would wobble, and velcro attached the motor and battery holder with alligator clip leads to a scrub brush. The result was a giant hex bug popping around on the table. Some kids were very interested in how they could take it further, and others had glazed expressions. For the ones that wanted to go further, I showed them how to connect three 9V batteries in series to feed the motor 27 volts… and it really buzzed. Then I told them we were on the Mars Rover team and had to make sure that even if a lead broke, the rover would still go.

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