Author Archives: tsilman

Clean Windows

In my work area, I have a large number of windows. I like to look out of them to see how the outside world is doing while I work. The weather passes through and they get wet. They get dirty and smudged. The view gets occluded and not as clear. I am fortunate to have windows because they brighten mine and everyone’s days as we work.

Periodically you will find me outside cleaning my windows. I clean them because I know that I will feel better with a nice view. I clean them because others that work with me also enjoy looking out of clear portals.

I usually wait until it rains to help wash the grime and grit from the windows. The drops of water that stick allows my squeegee to glide off the crud and corrosion. I’ve become a aficionado of different types of rain that I can go out in and clean my windows to the world.

Of course, there are those who always ask, ” Hey, come do my windows next!”. The first couple of times it is funny and pleasant. Now I don’t respond to the same people who year after year make the same joking and half serious request.

I do my windows because it is a good thing to do. They want their windows cleaned because they don’t want to make the effort (or so I judge). Not once in ten years has anyone come to ask for equipment so that they can clean their own windows.

I sometimes wonder if they believe the effort of cleaning is beneath them. I’ve stopped thinking about it though. I just enjoy the clean windows and the sun when it shines.

My 2 cents – an Engineer


A plan

If I submit my my project/poster/part on Friday, can I get it by Monday morning?

This sort of question is asked of all shops, makers and doers in many different forms. I receive questions all the time asking how fast we get a job done. This query can imply many things that the person asking the question may not have considered.

-It asks how good we are.
-It implies that your project is most important.
-It asks us to take the blame for not getting your project done.
-It says that you do not plan and have not planned.
-It says that we have nothing better to do with our weekend.

Look, engineers often get caught by deadlines. It happens. We get caught up in the minutia that is our life’s work and forget that completing a project in an organized manner is important. The makers of this world understand this dilemma. It has existed for millennia. However, the knowledge of this dilemma does not create a convenient excuse for you.

“An emergency on your part does not constitute an emergency for me…”

So, what are you going to do?

This problem can be split into two parts. Immediate damage control and long term solution.

Immediate damage control is where you admit that you didn’t plan and were honestly caught by a deadline. This admission needs to be made to your boss not to the shop/maker/machinist/or administrative assistant. You will be chastised and some sort of corrective action will occur. But, it is better to accept the consequences of your decisions than to hide them until they are dragged into the light of day.

The long term solution is more painful at first. You have to plan.

My 2 cents – an Engineer

Engineers modify…

Everyday people solve problems. We all have this ability. Engineers take this ability to solve a problem and exercise it. Abilities grow with practice.

Let’s look at an everyday item – a chair or stool. How would you modify it to be more useful? This example takes a simple item and modifies it by combining multiple features that would not normally be seen as part of a stool.

  • It provides power.
  • It can be sat on.
  • It stores a power cord.
  • It is light and easy to move.

An engineer looks at this object and thinks, ” I know how to make it better…” Maybe so… Maybe not. The first thing that has to be asked is what would you do to make it better?

Plug location?
Flat Space for work?
Each of moving?

DLC Shop Notes – News you can use

This note will give you some of the bullet points that should answer some questions about the shop.

  • We train during the entire Fall Semester. There is no training for undergrads in the Spring. This link to the shop blog post should give you more detail.
  • The Machine Shop (DL167) is CLOSED when we hold shop training. However, all other areas of the DLC Shop are open.
  • Training sessions are displayed on the DLC Calendar as are shop closures.
  • Training sessions are by APPOINTMENT ONLY. Appointment requests will be sent soon.
  • Basic Shop training takes about 2-3 hours total.
  • Advanced Shop training takes two sessions of 2-3 hours each session.

DLC Staff

DLC Shop Notes – Website, Blog and Calendar Information

The DLC Lab and Shop maintains a website and blog.
The website contains all of the immediate information for getting something done in the DLC shop areas.

The blog contains current and historical advice for the shop. Shop Notes contains the various notes that the DLC has sent over the years and still think are useful. Thoughts are a collection of random notes by students and staff. If you would like to contribute, we would be glad to immortalize you.

In other informational areas… Here is some good information for using Outlook while on Marquette’s campus.

IT Services maintains a great area on how to use eMarq and the Calendar.

They also have a great section on using the Outlook Web Access that everyone uses to get to their e-mail.

Some of you have other e-mail addresses that you like to use. While this is a great thing, the DLC, your professors and staff are not allowed to use those addresses to communicate official information.
According to official policy for use of Marquette e-mail excerpted here…
It is the responsibility of students to access and maintain these accounts in accordance with other university electronic communication policies including, but not limited to, the Acceptable Use Policy.

Students are expected to check their email on a frequent and consistent basis. Students must make sure that there is sufficient space in their accounts to allow for e-mail to be delivered and have the responsibility to recognize that certain e-mails may be time sensitive. Students will not be held responsible for an interruption in their ability to access a message because of system problems that prevent timely delivery of, or access to, messages. These include scheduled and unscheduled outages of the system.

I should note that it is a rare thing for eMarq not to work. Our IT staff are pretty good at keeping the mail servers moving…

Students who choose to have their email forwarded to an unofficial e-mail address do so at their own risk. Marquette University is not responsible for any e-mail beyond delivery to eMarq accounts. Students are still responsible for official e-mail as outlined above.

DLC Staff

DLC Labs – Work Orders and Materials

A Work Order is a good way to get one or two parts made by the shop machinists. A Work Order is when the shop machinist takes your print, your materials and performs the necessary maker work.

What is needed is the following:

    • Work order submitted via online work order system.
    • A CAD print attached to the work order.
    • All materials delivered to the shop with a printed copy of work order attached to your materials.


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 include all associated files.

Solidworks – .sldprt and .slddrw  (include all files)
NX – .prt
Inventor – .ipt .iam .idw  (include all files)


Materials shall be purchased from the various local vendors and delivered to the DLC Lab drop off cart. Materials shall have a printed copy of the work order attached to identify them.

All materials submitted for making a part are inspected by shop staff. 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 meet the specifications of the supplied print. I reserve the 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? Often times 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 shall be submitted through the DLC website. 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…

Work orders are prioritized as follows:

    1. Educational Support
    2. Funded Research
    3. Un-Funded Research
    4. Other

See also the Work Order Priority Policy. We aim to complete most parts in one to three days within this priority framework. The shop does its best but please give us time to succeed.

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

DLC Engineer

We are the first to come and the last to leave…

This time of year always leaves me a little maudlin. Students I’ve known for years are now leaving to start a new life. It is an exciting and scary time for them. They are now adults who will succeed or fail based on their own efforts.

I see the seniors walking around. They stand a little taller. Their weight is on their toes. They seem a little more alert and attentive. The end of their life and a new beginning is coming.

We all look forward to seeing this as an educator and guide. We all talk about their lives to come while we are teaching them in the classrooms and labs. Their eyes glaze over because it really didn’t matter at the time…but now, every word seems to have meaning and value.

Jackson Browne plays in my mind every time.

Fall is coming though. New students are coming to have their lives changed.
Another year is passing and life is going on…

My 2 cents – an Engineer