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A treasure like no other
I bought an absolute treasure earlier this week. It is the Eighth edition of the American Machinist Handbook. It was published in 1945. I know what you are thinking, but I am sorry to say he only had the one. I think this was the last year that it was published. Colvin and Stanley first published this handbook in 1908 because they wanted to have a guide for their craft, a single location that contained all the pertinent information so that Machinists, Engineers and Draftsman could have the information they needed at their fingertips. It covers screws, files, taps, gears, milling, grinding and punching, measuring, materials and knots and slings. Oh, my.

Aren’t you an Electrical Engineer?
More likely, you would like to ask me, “O’Leary, aren’t you an Electrical Engineer?” What am I gushing about a 73-year-old Mechanical Engineering book? Is that what I am, an Electrical Engineer? I thought we were engineers first and then broke down what we did by discipline.

Figure 2 Technical Drawing

Figure 2 is a photo out of the book, page 864. This looks familiar to me because as a teenager I went to a great high school in Brooklyn, New York called Brooklyn Technical High School. One of the classes I was required to take, not an option, was technical drawing. How many of our youth today have ever seen a technical drawing let alone have been required to learn how to draw them with a pencil and paper? You might think that having to draw with a pencil in the days of computers is a waste of time. How often have you seen someone at a whiteboard try and draw something in perspective and not be able to do it? I use the skills I learned in HS every day. I use them when working in Altium, when I make up a footprint for a new part I want to use. Without the skills I learned so long ago, I would struggle to read the mechanical drawings that allow me to do my job.

Education is key to our success as a society
I am a great proponent of continual learning. If you are not spending time each week, hours, learning something new, then you are falling behind.

I try not to listen to TV, it rots the mind. But I might have overheard a discussion about how we could make America Great Again. In my opinion, there is only one way and that is to make ourselves great. I am not talking about ourselves as a nation, I am talking individually. If we all continually improve ourselves, our country will continue to do the amazing things it has done and currently does.
I also think it is important not to be a snob about education. It is not the piece of paper that makes us who we are, but the learning behind it. I don’t care if you are a brick layer, a farmer or the CEO of a company, we all contribute to our society and we can help make it the best society it can be by improving ourselves. As engineers we should all promote education, on all levels and for all people.

One of the big mistakes we made during my lifetime was to remove shop classes from the High Schools. We sort of felt that vocational educations were a thing of the past. Everyone will just get a collage degree. Why would we need to have a welder, an electrician, an auto mechanic, a carpenter or a plumber, we have graduated into the age of college degrees – not! College is not for everyone and our society is made up of, and needs, a variety of disciplines to thrive.
Forgive me if I have told this story before but it really stands out in my mind. I broke a tap some time ago and went to Lowe’s to replace it. A dude in his early 30’s asked me if I needed help and I told him what I was after. He asked me what a tap did. I only hesitated a second and told him it was used to make threads in a piece of metal. He actually scoffed at me. Then told me that was not possible. He was working in a hardware store. OK, well what seems to pass for a hardware store in our current society.

The Greatest Generation
The generation of people who struggled though the tough years of the great depression and then went on to fight and win the 2nd world war have been called the greatest generation. What made them great? I think it was hard work. They had great challenges forced on them and they did not accept them as a barrier. They did what needed to be done and they did it well. Each and every generation that succeeds the last can be the greatest generation if we individually meet the challenges that we face in an honorable, and tenacious way. We must value the things that make a society great. Things like honesty, fairness, tolerance and not being afraid of hard work.

Have a wonderful week and go out there and learn something new.

Final thoughts
This newsletter is sponsored by Celtic Engineering Solutions LLC, a design engineering firm based out of West Jordan and Murray, Utah, which can be found on the web at: If we can ever help you with your engineering needs please contact us. You can find the newsletter on the company blog, LinkedIn or in your inbox by subscribing. Send your emails to The Celtic Engineer at: [email protected], with the subject line SUBSCRIBE.