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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


There’s Failure And Then There Is Constructive Failure Caroline Storm Westenhover

The awesome thing about the human mind is it never fully shuts off. The terrible thing is, this does not always mean it is being clever.

Case and point. Some time ago I went to Body Worlds, a traveling exhibition of preserved human bodies and body parts that are prepared to reveal inner anatomical structures. By the by, never take friends to Body Worlds without first feeding them. Hunger plus Body Worlds can make for an unpleasant experience.

While I was there I made several astute comments and remarks. I had no idea how much blood was required by the liver.

Near the end of the exhibit there is Tai Chi man, who shows various orthopedic and surgical operations. Basically there are quite a few metal screws and plates in his body.

At this point I turned to my exhibit companion and made the following insightful comment: “With that many serious injuries it is a wonder he is not dead yet.”

At this point my companion just turned to me and gave me a look that simultaneously said “what do you do when someone says something really dumb?” and “I am just going to stand in silence and let you think about that.”

I just turned back and became extremely interested in Tai Chi man’s knee.

It is interesting how different people handle these situations. Some ignore them, some laugh them off and others try to explain them away. Failure is only as good as the lessons learned from it. Failure is not inherently good. Hitler failed to get into the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and he does not seem to have grown in character because of it.

A kid will learn less from being squashed at his first game of chess then from being shown how to play and allowed to win a time or two before bumping up your game.

This is where video games excel. They are designed to challenge the player so that they get a sense of accomplishment when they reach an achievement, but are not so frustrating that they give up on the game play entirely. This is what makes good video games great. Humans are truly happy when we overcome a challenge, but we still often find ourselves doing what is easy rather than challenging.

Really good video games persuade our lazy minds to get absorbed in a challenge. When I complete a challenge I feel a sense of accomplishment exceeded only by completing an engineering project. Now it is just up to me to keep myself at the right level of proficiency in my school work as to make success achievable.



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My name is Caroline Storm Westenhover. I am a Senior Electrical Engineering student at the University of Texas at Arlington. I am the third of seven children. I enjoy collecting ideas and theories and most enjoy when they come together to present a bigger picture as a whole. Perhaps that is why I like physics and engineering.  My biggest dream is to become an astronaut.


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