February 2007

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February 7, 2007 W #

Classes started yesterday, and I'm looking forward to this semester. It's pretty cool to be introduced to the semester project for your class, and hear that the industry in general is not only vying for which project your class works on, but really values the results."

"NASA and others take these results very seriously. The outcome of this Design Project will be comparable, if not superior, to what NASA would produce."

I'm also in a class on the Apollo Program, treating it as a Complex System of Human and Machine Interaction. That's going to be fun. Recently I've been becoming more aware of a developing trend in automation, illustrated in the subject focus of this Apollo class. For a long time, automating systems has been the challenge. Now computers and automation have become so prevalent that the rising focus is not optimizing the machine task, but optimizing the human role in the automated loop. It's a much more variable and dynamic design challenge. Fun stuff.

February 12, 2007 M #

My most recent insight:

The most effective way to develop an appreciation for somebody else's job is to try to do it for them.

I've been working with AIAA to select the cover we're going to use for Hired Minds, and it's been far, far more work than I anticipated. They sent a cover in December, just before Finals. I didn't like the cover at all, so I sent back a long email with pictures and theory describing what we wanted to accomplish with the cover and how it might look. Last week, just when classes started, they sent this cover.

This is light years of improvement over the first cover, but I couldn't help but think "Junior High." I didn't think anybody else could possibly like this cover either, so I spent two days (while I should have been doing homework and preparing for the semester) going through several design iterations on my own, until a friend helped me come to this cover. I emailed several friends for a vote, expecting my cover to win by leaps and bounds.

The results:
40 for the Cartoon Cover
48 for the Launch Photo Cover (only a 10% lead)

I was shocked by this outcome, but I got a lot of good feedback, so I generated this cover and sent it back to AIAA (note the climbing gear in the picture collage!).

I had no idea how many subtleties could screw up a cover. I put a lot of thought into this, but things like consumer products in the pictures quickly date any book. I wanted pictures of people to give that human touch (which is so prevalent in the text) but that gets even more tricky to do it right.

I had a good chat with my publisher, and I think we're on the same page now. They should be able to get something good produced soon. Either way, I have a new appreciation for how difficult it is to design a book cover.

Here's my favorite book cover I found in this process.

You're Hired by Lorne Epstein, who apparently did recruiting for Northrop Grumman for several years.

February 17, 2007 S #

It's been a good week.

Tuesday I got the news that my team was selected for the Semi-Finals in the NASA Lunar Ventures Business Plan Competition. We'll be going to Golden, Colorado in May to compete for $25K. And on top of that, the other Astropreneur team also made it to Semi-Finals.

Valentines Day turned into a smoosh-bog outside, which has now frozen rock solid all over the city. It started smooshing in the morning. Not snowing, not sleeting, not hailing, and certainly not raining. It was smooshing. The stuff landed, and it wouldn't melt, it wouldn't pack, and it wouldn't freeze. It was the strangest stuff I've ever seen. When you'd walk through it, it would smoosh around your feet.

Minovia and I were super busy this week, so we planned on doing Valentines Day tomorrow when we could enjoy it. Good thing, because by evening it started raining, and the smoosh on the sidewalks and roads turned into a coagulation of free standing water and slush. That night it froze rock solid. Now all week we've had fields of ice that look like new fallen snow. They're so hard, people go ice skating on them. To tell the truth, it's been a lot of fun.

Friday all us LFM's got the word on our internships, and I'll be spending my six months in Stonehouse, England, a couple hours west of London, working for Schlumberger (huge oil drilling and exploration company).I think the guy I'm working for will be an excellent manager, and the experience overall will be great. The internships matched up pretty well. Over 40% got their first choice slot, and 76% got in their top five. We had two disappointments... but out of 47, I think those numbers are pretty good.

Today I got my first real exposure to carbon nano-tubes. Through Astropreneurs I met a guy who drummed up a team working to make these nano-tubes group into a super strong material. Another one of the teammates met and joined them through Astroprenerus. They're making headway on their objectives, and I'm stoked to see what they produce.

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