Monthly Archives: July 2013

Rental Car Mentality

How many cars have you or a friend rented? Have you ever heard, “Don’t worry, its only a rental…”

To me, this attitude is troubling.

It implies a certain disrespect for another person’s property and them. It suggests that you have the right to abuse the tool in your possession with no consequences.  It insinuates that the problem of maintenance and upkeep is a stranger’s problem and you have the right to cause them more work due to your temporary possession. (Possession is 9/10ths of the law right?)

How many tools have you borrowed from friends? How many times have you rented anything and it barely survived your temporary ownership? What about when you own the car? Ownership of the car will cause you to think about how it is being used and how well it is being looked after.

The College of Engineering does many things with the budget money we have. We make nickels scream and pennies are treated like gold. I think I still have my first dollar… Periodically I hear, “I pay $40,000 in tuition, I think we should be able to afford __________.”

This weak analogy argument is an uninteresting and misdirected expression. I understand its feeling but I think the speaker is not taking into account their personal actions and their effect on the budget.

We have facilities personnel tasked with keeping the engineering buildings clean. They only have so much time to go throughout the entire building cleaning floors, picking up trash and wiping down tables. When our students take it upon themselves to make more of a mess (during midterms and finals), the building takes on the appearance of a warzone. We then have to spend more money cleaning it up…cause-effect.

That last point is the important one. We are spending money on services that could be spent on engineering resources. This is apparently because our students feel that the Oompa Loompas of Engineering will come along behind them and clean up. (Because that is what they are paid to do… right?) Never mind the cost, cause I’m not the problem and I’m not paying for it…

The fact of the matter is that if you are not participating in keeping the Engineering Hall and Haggerty Hall clean then you are part of the problem and you are wasting money that could be spent on more important things. Rental car mentality does not belong in our halls.

Participating means telling someone to pick up after themselves.
Participating means sweeping up the crumbs off of a table from a midnight snack.
Participating means keeping where you live clean.
Participating means you are proud of Engineering Hall and Haggerty Hall and would like to take care of them…


What are you going to do?

My 2 cents. – An Engineer


How long does it take?

The DLC Shop is asked many times how long it will take to make a part. This reasonable question is difficult to answer. Lets look at an example.

This is a rather simple part.

Sealing-Disk extract

How many hours would it take to manufacture it?

One simple method to estimate the amount of time is to count the number of manufacturing operations.

  1. Bring disk to correct size diameter
  2. Bring disk to correct thickness
  3. Four holes
  4. One Large Hole
  5. Surface finish and deburring

Now assign an amount of time to each operation. Include part setup in machine tool, machine tool setup for speeds and feeds, tool to hole location, surface grinding, edge deburring, tool collection, “oops” or “gosh darn-its”, and measurements of each finished operation.

  1. Diameter – May take about 45 minutes if the stock is originally 3 inches in diameter.
  2. Thickness – May take about 30 minutes
  3. Four Holes – 60 minutes on manual machine or 20 minutes on a CNC machine
  4. Large hole – 45 minutes
  5. Finish work – 30 minutes

This totals 3.5 hours for this simple part. Now add in a material – Steel, Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Alloy, or Brass and the attendant machining complexities.

There are many ways to shorten manufacturing time. This part could be made quicker by purchasing stock of the selected diameter. A blank disk could be located and purchased from a supply house and modified. I will talk about this in another post…

You should not use scrap or trash stock because it is immediately available. This expands the amount of manufacturing time by the machinist having to bring the material to the starting or “near net” shape of your object.

Machinists are a precise bunch who pride themselves on making precision and accuracy happen. Squaring up a block or whittling a piece of scrap down to size can take hours of numbing labor. This mind blowing, grinding, dulling labor later detracts from the concentration needed for making the fine adjustments necessary for perfecting your part.

Additionally, the extra manufacturing time adds up. It in turn affects other jobs in the work order task list and that work order may be yours.

Near net shape.  Please keep this in mind as you are working on your design.

My 2 cents. – An Engineer

An Engineer’s musings…Work Ethic

Every day we get older. This is fact. We learn. We change. We grow. We expire.

Some of my learning came from a gentleman out east who spent a great deal of time looking at antique heating systems ( Boilers to be specific ). One observation he made was that when he looked at a boiler system from 1910, the people who designed and installed the system where most likely dead. Yet the heating system still operated. He marveled at the ingenuity and skill of those long dead craftsmen and engineers whose work still breathed.

He came up with a saying that described the “Dead Men” who spoke to him through their works. “A hundred years from now, they will gaze upon my work and marvel at my skills but never know my name. And that will be good enough for me.” – Dan Holohan

I think this ethic describes what a craftsman and engineer should aspire to be. We create solutions. We build them. We move on. All of our works are the best they can be so that our descendants marvel that we did so much with so little.


Try explaining this to a boss or a customer who wants an answer right now… No matter how bad or good it is.


Greatness is something to aspire to. It is not a compromise but a balance of the many things that we work on in our professional lives.

My 2 cents. – An Engineer

DLC Labs – Scheduling Training and Shop Dress Requirements

Shop training occurs in the Fall semester. We do this to ensure that everyone has access to the shop’s resources when they need it in the spring. We close the shop for all training sessions in order to concentrate on our students.

Schedule training early in the fall semester.

To apply for shop training

We use the eMarq email system’s calendar to schedule all training appointments. All training sessions are scheduled in two hour chunks. We do not allow walk-in training sessions.

Your e-mail should contain a request to be scheduled for Basic Shop Training or Advanced Shop Training. Advanced Shop Training requires that you have the Prerequisite of Basic Shop completed.

Required Proper Dress – for rooms noted. 5 seconds or 5 hours proper dress is ALWAYS required.  Safety Glasses, T-shirts or short sleeved shirt, long pants, closed toed shoes are required. All worn fabrics shall be a natural fiber (cotton, wool, flax…) no synthetics. No sandals, No shorts, No tank tops, No hooded sweatshirts, No cell phone use.

Engineering Hall – DLC Labs

Each room has a list of requirements which allows us to manage risk to students and staff. The DLC Labs hours of operations are as follows:

  • Monday – 8am to 8pm
  • Tuesday – Friday 8am to 10pm
  • Saturday – to be determined

Room 128

  • No training requirement
  • Open access for COE students
  • Access for University students by request

Room 121 (Electronics Lab)                 

  • No training requirement.
  • Access to Electronic Workstations

Room 125 (Multi-Discipline)       

  • Requires proper dress.
  • No training requirement.
  • Access to Hand Tools only.
  • No powered hand tool access.
  • Tool Checkout from Tool Crib

Room 113 (Large Projects Lab)  

  • Requires proper dress.
  • No training requirement.
  • Check In/Check Out on bulletin board.
  • Access to Hand Tools only.
  • Some Tool Checkout from Tool Crib

Room 167 (Machine Shop)         

  • Requires proper dress.
  • Requires Basic and/or Advanced Training to enter
  • Basic Training – Access to Band Saw, Drill Press, Powered Hand tools and other tooling
  • Advanced Training – Access to Mill and Lathe
  • Unrestricted Tool Checkout from Tool Crib

If you have any questions, please e-mail us.

DLC Labs – Work Orders and Materials

Work Orders and Materials

A Work Order can be a good way to get that one or two parts made by the shop machinists. The machine shop gets better each day at turning out items of interest.  A Work Order is when the shop machinist takes your print, your materials and performs the necessary maker work.

What is needed?

-1) A good print and the CAD model e-mailed to

-2) Material delivered to the shop’s blue “Drop Off” cart labeled so we can identify your work order.

-3) Work Order submitted by either paper or web


Below is a short, incomplete list of drafting standards which will help with the CAD drawing. The standards are a guide for generating something that a machinist can use to make your part. The shop reviews all drawings. A CAD file assists us when we find a drawing is missing a crucial dimension.

ASME Y14.100- Engineering drawing and practices
ASME Y14.3- Multi-view and sectional view drawings
ASME Y14.5- Dimensioning and Tolerancing

CAD files should have all associated files included in a complete .zip file.

Solidworks – .sldprt and .slddrw all files

NX – .prt file


Materials shall be purchased from the various local vendors and delivered to the DLC Lab drop off cart at the same time that the Work Order is submitted.

All materials submitted for making a part are inspected. I use my judgment to determine whether a material is suitable for manufacturing. I make no judgment as to whether a part will function in a design. The shop is only concerned with manufacturing a part to the supplied print. I reserve this right to decide due to safety and practicality.

The DLC Lab is asked many times to supply “scrap” for use in making a part. I would like to ask, if your project is important, why are you asking for trash to be used in making your component? Oftentimes scrap takes additional time to whittle and force into an acceptable part. This additional time is expensive in terms of manpower and tooling availability. I reserve the right to shut down any project using “scrap”. Please take this into consideration when looking at available materials.

Work Orders

Work orders may be submitted in paper form or by the web. The paper forms may be found in or near the tool crib in the DLC Lab. If materials are not submitted when the work order is submitted, the work order will be placed on hold until I have time to figure out what is going on…

If you have any questions, email the We will do our best to answer.