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Thread: Design Judging

  1. #21

    You are cherry-picking what you want out of my post and taking it out of context. This is, sadly, expected and your attack adds weight to my statements.

    My point certainly wasn't that it is difficult to find a washroom at a trade show, or that people aren't willing to put up with assholes at all for some valuable experience or information - this is very much a reality in every engineering workplace. It is that compared to these forums, there are *better options* for people to seek help or information and that your preferred method of teaching is ineffective.

    The entire analogy was to highlight that in order for people to be successful, they just need to be pointed in the right direction. MOST young engineers that I know want to put in the work and figure things out themselves, but everyone has to start somewhere and stupid questions happen. Calling names and going on a tirade about today's youth is unnecessary and does nothing but feed your ego - something that has no place in a professional environment. There are lots of people in the world, and indeed even on these forums, that can be educational and respectful. If you truly cared about teaching future generations you would adapt your strategy to be more effective. Read a (modern) book on the topic, there has been significant research and some drastic changes in methodology in the last 20-30 years.
    Owen Thomas
    University of Calgary FSAE, Schulich Racing

  2. #22
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    As Socrates and his pupil Plato spelled out so clearly two and a half thousand years ago, the surest way to the "truth" is to engage in a DIALOGUE. Or as Plato called it, DIALECTIC.

    Here, each small part of each person's argument is examined in detail, and is thus shown to either have merit, or be worthless. (Incidentally, this process also works when you are by yourself, whereby you can have an "inner dialogue" to decide between competing ideas in you head. For example, "...four-cylinders, twin, or single, what are the pros and cons?".)

    Also clearly spelled out back then was that MOST OFTEN such examinations end in "aporia", namely "dead-end". That is, the examined detail of a specific argument is, indeed, shown to be worthless, having no supporting evidence, or being logically invalid, or so on. That part of the argument then needs to be "struck from the record" and the person proposing it must start again. (Again incidentally, it is for this reason that there is so little of such "well-reasoned argumentation" today, because it takes a long time, so is oh-so hard work!)

    My "cherry-picked" point in previous post was that just because you can ask the simple question "Where is the bathroom/toilet/washroom?", that does not mean you should always expect to get back a simple, HELPFUL, answer. For example, if the reply comes back as "No idea, you'll have to find it yourself.", then do you take this unhelpful response as some sort of attack, or abuse?

    Many Snowflakes do, and your earlier posts suggest that you would too. In which case you have a totally unrealistic view of the way the real world works. So your earlier argument that "Simple questions should beget simple [helpful] answers..." is plain wrong, and should be struck from the record.

    Spelling this out more bluntly, you have NO RIGHTS, or "entitlements" as they are called nowadays, to any sort of "helpful answers" AT ALL! You either have to hope that people are generous with their knowledge, or else you have to work hard to find the right answers yourself.

    ...in order for people to be successful, they just need to be pointed in the right direction.
    Utter NONSENSE!

    Hang a carrot in front of a donkey with a full stomach, and the donkey turns AWAY from the carrot.

    Likewise, the modern generation of students all have full stomachs, and "pointing them in the right direction" does nothing more than to add yet another "choice" to the multitude of choices that they already have, and that they believe they are free to choose from. Claude's earlier YouTube link mentioned just how ridiculous is this belief that "...you can have anything you want in life..." (~1:30+).

    In other words, point them in the right direction, and very soon afterwards they are wandering in the opposite direction. "Oh, look..., a butterfly...".

    ...your preferred method of teaching is ineffective.
    So why do some of the top teams in the world keep a file of my posts?

    My guess is they do this so they can at least CONSIDER the ideas presented there. And sometimes they actually ADOPT the ideas that I suggest, often quite successfully, but invariably against the thinking of the rest of the flock. Of course, this consideration and adoption requires a lot of close examination of all the little details of the arguments. So it involves a lot of very long-winded "dialogues" within the team, as explained at top of this post. So it only really works for the teams that are prepered to put in that effort.

    As for the teams at the bottom of the ladder, well, they immediately dismiss my arguments as the rantings of a crazy old-man. So, yes, for them my methods are quite ineffective.

    Read a (modern) book on the topic [of teaching strategy], there has been significant research and some drastic changes in methodology in the last 20-30 years.
    With a mountain of hard evidence to show what a complete and utter FAILURE it is! The modern education system is in freefall. It is a farce.

    In fact, it is nigh-on impossible these days to find a single engineering student, under- or post-graduate, who can solve a simple FBD. Is there anyone out there who can post a sketch here, showing how to solve the "man on a ladder" FBD, by drawing two straight lines?

    Owen, your current very comfortable standard-of-living has nothing to do with YOUR work or efforts. Or with any educators' efforts from "the last 20-30 years". It is the result of the accumulated efforts of generations from many centuries, and even millenia, ago. But your current standard-of-living can be lost, though as I noted earlier, that will take some time. It seems that you are doing your best to move in that direction.


  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    This. This right here is why people quit the forums. Specifically, because Claude is an ass, and a persistent one. Z is too sometimes, although he at least has moments of reasonableness scattered in there over the years. Several other folks fall in the same category but are not worth listing. Their attacks on simple questions have killed these forums. The personal attack on Owen above is wildly out of line. This sort of stuff now represents the normal course operation of this forum. I’m closing my account after this post because there is nothing left here for me but disappointment.

    I’m in a position to be a customer of Claude’s in real life, and I will NEVER give him an ounce of business, simply because he’s an ass on these forums. They say “you can’t win the internet,” and that’s true. I’m sure Claude or any other inflammatory personality on these forums will have the last word here. Feel free. Tell everyone how great things are going for you, and how you always prove yourself right. But treasure that smugness while it lasts; I don’t need a crystal ball to predict how people’s actions on this forum will have lasting effects on their real-life businesses as a generation of young upcoming FSAE students transition into decision making roles in the racing and automotive world.

  4. #24
    Claude, Z:
    Why did people stop using the forums?

    Other people:
    This is why.

    You're wrong, and also an idiot.

  5. #25
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Buffalo, NY USA
    Quote Originally Posted by Z View Post
    As Socrates and his pupil Plato spelled out so clearly two and a half thousand years ago,
    My guess is that, over time, Z will be shown to be correct. Socrates is also credited with this quote (which may have lost a bit in translation over the years?):
    “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”

    Chatter certainly reminds me of my limited forays into Reddiit. Not a FB user, so won't comment on that company.

  6. #26

    It’s a generational thing

    Yes, Z can be strident and abrasive; he is also manifestly brilliant and exceedingly well informed. And, yes, Claude can be petulant and self-promotional; he also has extensive experience in various forms of motorsport. Moreover, the endless pissing contest between the two is tiresome. But I don’t think either of them are the reason why fewer people now seem involved in this forum. Like Doug Milliken, I once had a very grumpy old boss, from whom I learned much: How to feel the slight harshness that is borderline detonation; how to distinguish by ear between ‘too-rich’ and ‘insufficient spark advance’. (A quick way to learn to NOT leave the chuck-key in the drill press is to have it thrown at your head!)
    No, I believe the problem here is, at root, an inability to postpone reward. This incapacity may be taken as a refusal – whereupon Z’s blood pressure rises dangerously . The truth is, there is nothing in most U. students’ prior experience to suggest, let alone persuade them, that the route to real fulfillment in life is to do well something worthwhile but difficult
    Owen Thomas’ school must be very different from the one I worked at for several years. For about a decade after retirement, I was an unofficial tech advisor to the U Toronto FSAE team. During that time, I met many bright, engaged young people, several of whom have since become good friends. Along the way, I learned much, partly from the young’uns, but to a greater extent from this forum, and especially from Z.
    My relationship with the team ended 3 or 4 years ago, after I blew up (Z-like!) at one of our weekly beer-and-BS sessions. The people around me were not conspicuously stupid, but they were abstracted; they just didn’t seem to have any curiosity. It was as if they didn’t give a damn, as if FSAE was a box they needed to tick (go through the motions, learn the buzzwords, get the T-shirt, add an item to your CV).
    I provided them with a reading list, plus links to some useful and reliable websites. No one even read the list, let alone any of the works on it! All knowledge came from the little metal friend they all carry. Reading more than one screen’s worth at a time was too boring, perhaps too taxing. Indeed, I think they are quite imply incapable of sustained concentration. (“First we shape our tools; then they shape us.” – Marshall McLuhan.)
    No, I’m with the old guys.
    P.S. Z: check your personal email. I sent you a message on 19 Feb.

  7. #27
    I'd just like to set straight that I never called into question anyone's value in terms of technical knowledge. I too have several of your posts saved Z, my commentary on ineffectiveness was the *style* in which you dole out information. Your ideas on working things out from first principles are valid and well supported, they just usually come with an (unnecessary) peppering of insults on a very public stage.

    Again, the problem is not the statement "find out for yourself". If I were to ask someone a question and they can't or won't give me an answer that is totally OK, but there's no reason to be rude about it - it's not an entitlement issue it's just that *given the option* I'd rather not deal with assholes. Regardless of opinions about the "snowflake generation" this is why people use the other platforms more. They do not know who populates each site, just that there are people who know better than them willing to help. If all options appear equal at first glance what incentive is there to choose an option that has a reputation for 'toxicity'?
    It's worth mentioning that when I started mentoring new students (during my time on the team and after graduation) I struggled because of exactly these issues. People were hesitant to speak with me about problems or to seek information because I could be difficult - often my suggestions were ignored and when something failed all I had to say was "I told you so". After much discussion with other educators and a change in approach, I've noticed a DRAMATIC upswing in not only the frequency with which students reach out, but how often my ideas are implemented. Did my value as a source of information change? Maybe, but I know what definitely did change: my attitude and (over time) reputation.

    Certainly the Reddit and Facebook groups are unfocused, I think that's a byproduct of the platforms themselves. Perhaps of the entire generation, as suggested by Forbes - but I choose to believe that it's just a very visible minority of young impatient people. My school is definitely similar to the situation described at U of T but there are still good, ambitious students in the pool.

    This site serves as a fantastic source of information for people who are willing to look and I continue to suggest it to current competitors, but in many cases there's no awareness that it even exists until it pops up on a google search. Word of mouth is powerful, and purposefully alienating newcomers does not help grow a community.
    Owen Thomas
    University of Calgary FSAE, Schulich Racing

  8. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by js10coastr View Post
    Perhaps there are less discussions going on because current students have scoured the forums and found the answer they were looking for and didn't need to bring up the topic again.
    Agreed. I also think unless students want to ask a question about something they have very little knowledge on, they are reluctant to reveal too much of their own knowledge on any technical discussions regarding specific components for fear of revealing their teams "secrets". I wonder if that is actually the case or not.

    A lot of it also does comedown to traditional forums being less popular with college students of today.

  9. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by noah View Post
    ...they are reluctant to reveal too much of their own knowledge on any technical discussions regarding specific components for fear of revealing their teams "secrets"...
    I've seen this since I started working with FSAE teams in 2009, although it does seem to have gotten more prevalent. I can understand that. I was personally reluctant to post details about our electric drive system in 2011. At that time, I thought it was something special enough that we could lose an advantage in a competitive environment. Now I see it as a missed learning opportunity and have advocated for transparency across programs in Texas as a way to better all of the teams.
    Cole Easterling
    Brendon & Lawrence Mfg.
    2011-2012 TAMU FH/FSAE

  10. #30
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Raleigh, NC

    Friendship Is Magic

    Every few months I stop by here for FSAE news.
    But I stopped posting because this forum was no longer enjoyable or productive.

    Survey about why you stopped posting:

    But my guesses based on feedback from my old team
    1) The reputation of this forum is: "toxic with posters being called out and shamed by people like Claude and Z too regularly"
    The first few pages confirm this for any new visitor

    2) Most topics that are well understood by the top posters here have been beaten to death.
    I bet most team just save a link to the most relevant threads and share those.
    All the info without posting.

    3) Most students have different goals for FSAE than the main posters here

    Survey summery; edited for conciseness

    Students top 2 goals
    58% Build a cool car and have fun
    56% Improve your engineering skill set
    27% Win the competition
    26% Get a job in motorsports

    Things people like most about FSAE

    • Learning new skills in mostly friendly environment
    • Friendship!
    • Team culture and "doing cool shit". Do more cool shit.
    • Team spirit, working after midnight, heated debates in a specific topic, see the Car running for the first time.
    • Friendship
    • The relationships created will last a lifetime. I got to spend a great amount of my time in college working with like-minded individuals with the same goal and mindset.
    • The relationships built with good friends on the team, and the late night experiences with them.
    • The teamwork, friends, building car with someone else's money
    • Teamwork. I have not seen such good teamwork in industry again.
    • The teamwork that goes into making the car. And also assembling the car for the first time.
    • Getting friends for life and getting my current PhD position on what I saw working in FSAE
    • Friends, skills, and a place for everyone and all still levels and all amounts of time to dedicate.
    • The camaraderie between most of the teams. Most teams understand that we are all competing, learning, and suffering together.
    • Teamwork and Camaraderie
    • Friends, competition, having something to show and say "I designed, tested, and made this"
    • Team camaraderie, made friends on 2 continents, got a good job
    • Hanging around with people all around the world, exchanging engineering opinions with other teams, have a small feeling of what top-level motorsport is like
    • Developing friendships with other like-minded young professionals.
    • Team bonding in difficult times.
    • Team work
    • Meeting enthusiastic students.
    • I value greatly the friendships and the professional network of alumni those friendships have created.
    • The team atmosphere and friends I made. We try to keep in touch with other alumni and current students, & organize alumni meetup events
    • The team work and personal growth.
    • Intra and inter team spirit of camaraderie. Hungriness to learn. Dedication.

    • Design. Have a manufac team so I could focus more on design
    • Knowledge gain.
    • Designing and manufacturing the vehicle, implementing cutting edge technology, optimizing the final vehicle to find the best performance, the ability to have freedom over a design.
    • What I enjoyed the most was the ability to take an component or system through the process of idea creation, to CAD, analysis, iterations, machining, assembly, testing, and repeat.
    • A chance to prove I can build one of the best cars out there and push myself to learn more than I had before.
    • The ability to see such a large project from start to finish. It's always exciting to see the model become a reality.
    • Being able to design, build, and race a complete car from scratch
    • I got to build a few cars from the ground up and race them
    • Discussions in Engineering Design Event
    • Learning about how engineering met practical application. Learning the ins and outs of dyno, combustion engine, fabrication, and assembly.
    • I think the biggest thing was learning practical applications for the engineering curriculum and near real-world design/build/test experience.
    • The hands-on experience I got, learning how to make stuff happen even when the path was unclear. Working long hard hours with folks who became close friends.
    • Dynamic events. More testing
    • The massive design freedom. Allow wooden skirts for the tunnels
    • "Attending competition and meeting a heap of people with similar interests.
    • Exploring new methods and technologies and seeing their results."
    • Working with other engineers on projects - need more people so there's more than 1 person per subsystem!
    • designing the car itself.
    • finding Solutions in a competitive surrounding
    • The sense of accomplishment when seeing a car you spent 8 months building hit the race track.
    • Learning how to apply engineering fundamentals.
    • Putting education to practice. Learn more and apply more.
    • I enjoyed the competitiveness and the math/conceptual understanding. To continue reading literature on the subject.
    • Winning. Win more.
    • The ability to see my ideas play out from start to finish. Concept to Endurance.
    • The challenge of getting a large group of people to a single uniting goal of winning.
    • The intense requirement from project management, it forces even the most open of engineers to think about an entirely different aspect of engineering.
    • Building something unique and awesome. Add more boost with a better tune.

    Things people like least about FSAE
    (The Organization)

    • No soul in the whole meeting. no ability to create emotion, memories, nostalgia.
    • Some of the politics involved in the organization. Perhaps try to get involved in the program when I am older and have graduated.
    • Sexism, both on the team and in the competition in general
    • Over-complicated rule book and often (in Aus) poor design judges.
    • Rigid organisation structure of SAE with lack of transparency. Poorly implemented rule cycles and event organisation. Increase transparency of the organisation and student input into the event and rules development.

    (Static events)
    • Discussions with scruitineers
    • Static events. Work harder to find someone else to do it.
    • The current way the competition is giving the points. They are promoting more and more the complex side of producing a car. And focusing less on the engineering side.
    • Doing, aka cheating the cost report. Everybody knows its full of sh*t
    • Cost report

    • Constantly having to convince everyone that we were not just welding together a race car out of scrap metal and burning university money, but actually learning a lot regarding project management and engineering.
    • Dealing with university politics. Also Steve Daum at the US events.
    • Fundraising and justifying the existence of the club to the college. I think it would go a very long way if the college properly funded the program and integrated it more.
    • Hard to be more deeply involved in the design/build without previous car/engineering knowledge. Meaning skills needed (FEA, CAD, design) aren't always taught in engineering school and maybe not until last year.
    • Lack of university support (facilities/money/administration/direction). Increased support would bring legitimacy to the program and to the university.
    • Not having adequate University support, and a lack of consequences for missed deadlines is horrible to deal with. A lot of time is wasted on non-engineering tasks.
    • Politics. Nothing one can do
    • The pressure doing something very time intensive beneath learning for university.\
    • University politics. Advise others to go to another university.
    • Was not worth any credit at my University, which can discourage those who really care about their grades from putting serious time into it.

    (Team dynamics)
    • Dealing with shitheads who contribute sweet fuck all but act like they own the place. Have a management team with a backbone
    • Dealing with students not as motivated as myself.
    • few team members doing much less work than others
    • "Managing team members, understanding that other section leads had a different level of commitment to the project.
    • Create a method to have section leads understand their commitment and how it effects the final product. As well, a method for selecting section leads that are truly interested in the project, and not only the prestige. "
    • Our team's faculty advisor. Overly controlling and unreasonable.
    • People who don't care about deadlines. Doesn't even work for Germans obviously..
    • Politics within the club
    • Some team members were selfish and didn't get the big picture of the competition
    • Team mates backing out of the team after their final exams for the semester, or after delivering their thesis.
    • Team members not pulling their weight
    • team politics
    • Very unequal distribution of work for relatively similar recognition
    • I wouldn't enjoy members who were involved purely to hang out, and not apply engineering fundamentals.

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