This week’s theme on Engineer Blogs is about interacting with engineers from other discplines. Given I work at a university with people from many different engineering disciplines, I have a bit to say on this topic. Specifically, talking to engineers in other fields often means I need a translation dictionary – maybe one that translates between electromagnetics and device engineering. Very often, not understanding the constraints that other engineers deal with can leave me, and them, feeling very frustrated.
I’ve been fortunate, however, that I managed to get something similar that works between mechanical and electrical engineers – via a geology class, of all things.
The mechanical engineers I work with often look at the thermal and mechanical properties of electronics packaging in order to figure out issues surrounding failure and reliability. At first, some of their
gibberish technical jargon seemed to make no sense to me. One day, I listened closely to some of the terms they were using – thermal diffusion, bulk modulus, stress tensor, etc.
It turns out that I was fortunate enough to learn about a lot of these terms while taking a geology class. Many of the properties one assigns to packaging materials (and many other things) are also used to describe rock behavior. As with other things, the values used are considerably different for rocks, but the terms are nonetheless mathematically identical.
I still have issues understanding some of the other types of engineering going on around me, but I have a much clearer idea of the mechanical considerations present in our projects. That’s a good thing because it allows me to keep learning and finding new ways where my education is useful.