Engineering altruism: What’s in it for me?

Altruism is great, as long as there’s something in it for me. One-liners like this have been funny since standup comedians used to fall down for a laugh. Why? It’s because the second phrase contradicts the first one, and contradiction is a strong design element of humor. Engineering altruism is spending some personal time, sometimes even company-sanctioned time, on collaborative pro...

03/01/2010


 

Altruism is great, as long as there’s something in it for me. One-liners like this have been funny since standup comedians used to fall down for a laugh. Why? It’s because the second phrase contradicts the first one, and contradiction is a strong design element of humor.

Engineering altruism is spending some personal time, sometimes even company-sanctioned time, on collaborative projects for the wider good of all.

Like the old joke, engineering altruism itself is contradictory, because participants are among the first recipients of benefits—that’s the “what’s in it for me” part. In contrast, benefits of social altruism sometimes are never realized personally, beyond satisfaction of doing the right thing for humanity.

Mercifully, since time is short and engineering teams have more responsibilities, engineering altruism’s benefits can be comparatively swift. Three examples follow.

1) Standards committees do take time, possible travel, and thought. A well-designed standard placed ahead of technology development can save considerable company resources, avoid duplicative efforts, reduce integration, and educate participants about thinking outside of their organization. Those developing the standard also get a head-start with implementation over those not participating.

2) Professional organizations require dues or fees. Meetings are sometimes local and national, with some time and expense. Over the phone and online opportunities are available. Active participation can infuse an organization with technological creativity, problem solving, and benchmarking capabilities. Plus, engineers from different disciplines, companies, generations, and industries have a lot to learn from each other.

3) Mentoring, inside or outside an organization, through tutoring, writing, or even videos can clarify thoughts on a topic, garner fresh perspectives on old challenges, and preserve knowledge internally and for the industry. For engineers of the current and next generations, mentoring creates a stepping stone for innovation. Doing nothing leaves a pothole in the parking lot.

Think again, be contradictory, and do some altruistic engineering.

MHoske@cfemedia.com

 





No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
The true cost of lubrication: Three keys to consider when evaluating oils; Plant Engineering Lubrication Guide; 11 ways to protect bearing assets; Is lubrication part of your KPIs?
Contract maintenance: 5 ways to keep things humming while keeping an eye on costs; Pneumatic systems; Energy monitoring; The sixth 'S' is safety
Transport your data: Supply chain information critical to operational excellence; High-voltage faults; Portable cooling; Safety automation isn't automatic
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Maintaining low data center PUE; Using eco mode in UPS systems; Commissioning electrical and power systems; Exploring dc power distribution alternatives
Synchronizing industrial Ethernet networks; Selecting protocol conversion gateways; Integrating HMIs with PLCs and PACs
Why manufacturers need to see energy in a different light: Current approaches to energy management yield quick savings, but leave plant managers searching for ways of improving on those early gains.

Annual Salary Survey

Participate in the 2013 Salary Survey

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.

Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

2012 Salary Survey Analysis

2012 Salary Survey Results

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.