Jun 2, 2015

KISS: A Story from Space

You're not a real engineer unless you like to KISS. Really. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the acronym, it stands for:
image by pitabox986 (Peter Miller), via rgbstock.com

  • Keep
  • It
  • Simple,
  • Sweetie  (or that's what I say. Others use a more demeaning S word for some reason)
As an engineer, wielding the knowledge of science, the tools of math, and a wealth of technologies, it's all too easy to fall into the rabbit hole of "over-design" or over-engineering things.

There's a story we in engineering like to tell when remembering we need to keep things simple. From my research, it's not quite true, but it's a good story in any case:

Ballpoint pens work using gravity. The ink presses against the ball which then rolls to lay ink on the paper. But in space, alas, gravity doesn't work the way it needed to for the ballpoint. So, NASA invested in the development of a space pen--millions of dollars, so the story goes. It was branded "the space pen" and the pride of American ingenuity. Now the astronauts could write in space!

So it was stunning, the story continues, when the Berlin Wall fell and the secrets of the USSR were told. The cosmonauts had the same problem. But their solution? They wrote with pencils.

It's a gift to be able to realize you may be over-engineering the problem and even better when you are willing to KISS the problem again to keep things simple. Help your kids step back and make sure they are meeting the needs within reasonable constraints.

~ until next time, Yvonne

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