Leadership: Perseverance under Pressure

“Failure is not an option, we are not going to loose any men in space on my watch … “ those immortal words ring with authority and determination as it’s discovered NASA’s Apollo 13 mission to the moon is in trouble. Technical issues ensue and the mission is aborted. New task now is to get the three men home safely. Good leadership under pressure was vital and his colleagues listened. Technical issues over CO2 levels rising were overcome. Angle of re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere was eventually secured. All the men were saved. A demonstration of great leadership in our world today.

Churchill is another example of great leadership under pressure, rallying Britain to never surrender, to never give up ! The situation looked hopeless but his speeches and ‘face like flint’ leadership stirred up hope and perseverance in a nation.

Eddison on a lighter note, the inventor of the electric light bulb, showed perseverance under pressure in the race to produce a light bulb that would last more than 10 seconds! He famously quoted, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work !”

Abraham Lincoln failed eight times at various moments in his career to gain political positions, but never gave up. Eventually success came his way and he went on to become one of America’s greatest Presidents.

Perseverance is a key characteristic in a good leader and often needed in pressure situations.

Please feel free to use the comment section below to add your own findings and stories regarding good leadership and what we can all learn.

Hope you have a good month

All the best


ps If you have enjoyed this blog please feel free to pass on to others

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Leadership: Vernon Johns – forerunner to Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1948 Dr Vernon Johns, a straight talking man, became pastor & leader of the Dexter Baptist church in Montgomery, Alabama – predecessor to Dr Martin Luther King Jr. The church helped instigate the civil rights movement in America in the 1950s.

Vernon Johns previous to this post had been pastor of many churches upsetting congregations by preaching freedom & equality for black people. His motto that he inherited from his father was, ‘when you see a good fight – get in it’.

His ‘fight’ was to turn people from a state of appeasement towards oppressors to standing up against injustice. The congregation of the Baptist church eventually turned to his way of thinking in a climate of persecution and trouble as he courageously challenged the status quo. He was later dismissed by the elders who found him a ‘trouble maker’ and ‘rocking the boat’. The seeds for equality & freedom though had already been sown.

Dr Martin Luther King Jr. aged 26 carried on where Vernon Johns had left off, leading the church and peaceful non-violent protests, the first being the ‘bus system boycott’ which after 381 days removed segregation within buses. Further protests followed culminating in the ‘great march to freedom rally’ in 1963 changing the direction of America.

Although Vernon Johns is an unsung hero his legacy is no less important of that of Martin Luther King Jr. He paved the way, prepared the ground, for a different type of leader who was to follow, who shared the same vision, and was able to take the cause to a new level gathering people into a movement.

History shows us leadership comes in different forms, purposes and prominence. All have their place, and can be appreciated and celebrated for their benefit to us.

If you wish to know more please click on link for the Vernon Johns story: https://youtu.be/yD1ZJ1tG_fM

Hope you have a good month

All the best


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Posted in black people, civil rights movement, courage, equality, leader, leadership, peaceful protests, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shackleton – Success under failure

In late 1914 Ernest Shackleton and a team of 27 men sail towards the South Pole to be the first to cross the Antartic continent but unfortunately the expedition became a failure very early on as the ship Endurance became trapped in pack ice in the Weddell Sea north of Antartica. They remained there for 14 months drifting with the ice flow completely frozen in. The ship broke up and sank in October 1915 due to the pressure from the ice. They managed to salvage some provisions and three life boats. They camped on the ice and then managed to sail 100 miles north to Elephant Island on three 23ft boats in gale force winds and 50ft high waves to this uninhabited desolate island navigating with a sextant and charts.

Shackleton then with 5 other men sail in a 23ft open boat against all odds for 16 days 800 miles north to South Georgia Island where there is a Whaling Station – the nearest inhabited island. The weather and conditions were extreme – gale force winds, high waves, strong currents, -20 degrees C. The captain was only able to take 1 sighting of the sun with his sextant to determine their position, the rest was done on ‘dead reckoning’ – an outstanding achievement ! May 1916 they managed to enter a tiny bay and land the boat safely – even the main pin that held the rudder then fell out – a miracle they made it !

The whaling station is on the other side of the island, and so Shackleton then leads a perilous expedition without a map with two others to cross over the mountainous island to reach the whaling station on May 20th 1916. He then takes three attempts to sail to Elephant Island over 3 months to rescue the other 22 men left there.

Under Shackleton’s incredible leadership they remained as a team with hope and motivation and survived against all odds.

Someone quoted at the time “Scott would give you scientific leadership, Amundsen (Norwegian explorer 1st to South Pole) would give you swift & efficient travel leadership, but Shackleton would give you leadership in a desperate and hopeless situation”.

Who or what strengthened Shackleton to do what he did? In the early 1900s in Britain many believed in the God of the bible – but did Shackleton draw on Him? There is one entry in his private diary that indicates that he may well have done, and through him a miracle that was to unfold.

Hope you have a happy & prosperous 2021

All the best,


Addendum: Shackleton never achieved any of his goals. He lost the race to the South Pole and failed to cross the Antartic continent. He died aged 47 from a heart attack in 1922 on an expedition, yet leaves us with an amazing example of outstanding leadership.

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Twistocaloric Cooling – new refrigeration technology

One fifth of global electricity consumption is from air conditioning and is a significant contributor to global warming. A more environmentally friendly development from the University of Texas has emerged and is based on twisting and untwisting fibres. The method known as ‘twistocaloric cooling’ or ‘elastocaloric cooling’ works by twisting a yarn or fibre causing an increase in it’s temperature which is used to heat a surrounding flowing liquid such as water. Untwisting causes the temperature to decrease therefore cooling a surrounding flowing liquid.

The team at Texas University have already successfully demonstrated twist-based refrigeration with materials ranging from rubber to fishing line to nickel titanium wire – results are published in the journal ‘Science’. (One of which is up to 16.4 degrees C of cooling).

Dr Ray Baughman at Texas University predicts Twist Fridges will be smaller and lighter than the cooling units used in traditional fridges. Efficiency is also better at 67% compared with 60% of today’s units.

This technology is very much welcomed as it is more efficient using less electricity, and does not employ refrigerants, of which both effect global warming.

Hope you have a good month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“In the business world, the rear view mirror is always clearer than the windscreen.”

Warren Buffett

“Some couples go over their budgets very carefully every month. Others just go over them.”

Katherine Mansfield

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike

Posted in business, Energy, engineering development, environment, humor, humour, manufacturing, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, quotations, quotes, refrigeration, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Effectiveness of Cloth Masks against respiratory infections

Cloth masks have been used in healthcare and community settings to protect the wearer from respiratory infections for many years around the world.

Masks have two functions: firstly to prevent transmission of respiratory infections from infected person (source) to another (recipient), and secondly in the contra direction as a barrier to acquiring an infection.

The filtration effectiveness and performance of cloth masks is generally inferior than that of medical masks and respirators; however, cloth masks may provide some protection if well designed and used correctly.

The best cloth masks are those that use multilayer cloth, designed to fit snuggly around the face and are made of water-resistant fabric with a high number of threads and fine weave. Ill fitting masks can reduce effectiveness by up to 60%.

Cloth masks should be washed daily and after high-exposure use, by using soap and hot water or other appropriate methods to maintain good filtration.

There is a need for further research in improving the engineering design of cloth masks to enhance their filtration and fit, and also further investigation into the various methods for effective decontamination.

Reference article from CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) report Vol 26 No10 October 2020.

Hope you have a good month and stay safe through these unprecedented times

All the best,


Quotation corner:

“I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.”

General George S. Patton

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow

Mark Twain

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike

Posted in design, Health, humor, humour, medical, Medical Engineering, Pandemic, quotations, quotes, technology, Uncategorized, Virus Infection | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

3D CAD – The Evolution Journey

3D CAD was first introduced in the 1990s and was a game changer at the time.

Before this CAD was 2D and replicated traditional hand drawn engineering or archtitectural drawings on film or paper, a process that had been around for many years.

3D CAD has grown in functionality since the 90s and has become increasingly sophisticated enabling users to design quicker, easier & more accurately than ever before. The design data is used to produce prototypes or manufactured parts, or buildings.

A milestone since then have been, ‘add ons’ such as Visualisation and Simulation of parts within it’s intended engineering environment, traditionally used at the end of a design process. These can now be used near the beginning in realtime to analyse and verify design behaviour, therefore saving time before going down some unwanted cul de sacs !

Another milestone recently is ‘generative design’ whereby the designer inputs engineering goals and parameters such as physical boundary conditions, material options, applied loads, manufacturing methods and cost constraints. The software then provides a set of variations that solve the engineering problem and the designer chooses an optimum design solution !

3D CAD has also changed over the years in the area of financing. Traditionally ‘seats’ were purchased using a perpetual license model and software owned by the user indefinitely. Now CAD is moving to subscription based pay-as-you-go model, where the user pays a monthly or annual fee or leases software for a set period.

A further development is SAAS (Software As A Service) whereupon software is accessed via the ‘cloud’ or internet and deployed from there. The hardware restrictions of single user in the office are lifted and collaboration of design work is made easier by users or teams from around the world, using the latest software. The ‘add ons’ mentioned earlier are also paid for on a ‘on demand’ basis, which can lower costs.

My only reservation of the direction CAD software is taking is ‘contingency’ and ‘ownership’ – if the cloud or internet based software goes down (which is a possibility), what back up is there? In addition the latest software will eventually be only available from SAAS. The present situation of the CAD software market is that legacy CAD software of perpetual license holders will eventually go out of date, as it is not possible to upgrade to the latest software on a stand alone license basis. It seems users will only be allowed to lease software, and not own it and decide to upgrade when they choose.

To conclude 3D CAD software has progressed in leaps & bounds over the last 30 years, but ownership is moving from user to software supplier, with increased financial control.

Hope you have a good month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently”

Henry Ford

“The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” 

Steve Jobs

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike

Posted in 3D CAD, business, cad, CAD Software, design, Engineering, humor, humour, manufacturing, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, project engineering, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reverse Engineering

3D Scanner_IMechE_#1__

A rather counter intuitive title for a blog, but as I have often heard ‘one has to retreat to advance’ ! Reverse engineering in essence is the design process in reverse.

The need for reverse engineering arises when one has a legacy product one would like to reproduce or manufacture but no design drawings or information exist. You work backwards through the design process to arrive at the specification. The resulting technical data can be used to replicate the product in CAD.

Design information is collected by various 3D measuring systems or combinations thereof  including: coordinate measuring machines,  laser scanners, tomography scanners, 3D structured light scanners, time of flight and photogrammetry, and lastly digital calipers & micrometers.

Scanners produce a point cloud data file which is converted to a .stl file which is further converted to a 3D CAD model that can also be redesigned or optimised. The data from the final CAD file is then used to produce the part.

Although in engineering we seem to be in reverse we are in fact advancing !

Hope you have a good month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“Genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

Thomas Edison

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

Saint Francis of Assisi

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike

Posted in 3D CAD, 3D Scanning, business, design, Engineering, humour, manufacturing, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, project engineering, quotations, quotes, Reverse Engineering, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Integrity in engineering & governance

Jet Turbine under test_    Jet Engine under test

Recent events in the UK and US led me to think about integrity in our world today, especially in places of leadership and governance, and even within our own professions – mine being engineering.

Their are codes of conduct in place for professions – in the IMechE we have a set which endeavours to preserve a high level of conduct in our association with others within a commercial environment.

Interestingly though in engineering the integrity of a component within a system is it’s ability not to fail under certain load test conditions of which it is designed to withstand. Failure can be due to incorrect design, material imperfections, internal stresses, manufacturing flaws and so on. An example would be a fan blade within a jet engine. If the integrity of the blade fails under certain tensile stresses within certain environmental conditions it will also carry through to failure of the engine – the whole system would then lack integrity not just the component. On the other hand, non critical parts can fail and the system integrity remains in tact.

This example is an illustration of what can happen when one lacks integrity and fails under pressure or a testing situation within business or society and the consequences that can follow.

I guess it’s a challenge to us all in our professions to wisely consider our actions before we take them, and to try our best to walk in integrity !

Hope you have a good month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“Something I learned early is to not worry about what I can’t control… But what I can control is my attitude, my effort, and my focus every single day.”

Tim Tebow

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”

Charles Dickens

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike

Posted in business, design, Engineering, failure, Gas Turbine, humour, Integrity, jet engine, manufacturing, material science, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, Politics, quotations, quotes, turbine, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Covid 19 – hands to the plough


It’s amazing that in challenging and difficult times communities and even professions pull together to combat the ‘enemy at large’ and it’s consequences.

At the risk of blowing the trumpet for IMechE, they have informed us of the following:

“Our members are involved in the national response to COVID-19 at many levels, from designing ventilators to working on infection control in buildings and public spaces.

We have over 3,000 members in our Biomedical Engineering Division, many of whom are playing vital roles working to support the NHS to cope with the COVID 19 crisis which has claimed thousands of lives in the UK.”

The UK faces a continuing shortage of PPE including face masks, visors and gowns. The Government has called for industrial manufacturers to switch production to making PPE and has also looked to imports to meet the shortfall.

I understand there are large & small companies from various sectors across the UK who have heard the ‘call’ and are switching parts of their production to making PPE.

It is great to see professionals from every sector ‘putting their hands to the plough’, including engineers to work for the common good.

Hope you have a peaceful month

All the best,


Quotation corner:

“I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.”

General George S. Patton

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike


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Global Race for Coronavirus Vaccine

‘Unprecedented times’ seems to be the key phrase these days. A virus that has effected the world – physically, spiritually, mentally and financially. There is hope though that comes in may forms. One form is in the provision of a vaccine via scientific research.

Israel’s Institute for Biological Research—a civilian organization formerly under the Defense Ministry—are soon expected to announce the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus, but this process might require many months of trials and experiments before it is deemed safe and effective (source: Reuters, Haaretz )

The Israel state-funded Migal Galilee Research Institute also announced a breakthrough in the development of a vaccine for the new coronavirus. Their rapid progress was credited to four years of previous research focused on the development of a vaccine effective against an avian coronavirus affecting poultry, that could be adapted to counter COVID-19. (source: Reuters,  MIGAL     http://www.migal.org.il/Migal.covid )

In the U.S., a coronavirus vaccine trial has given a dose to its first participant. The study, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and conducted in the Kaiser Permanente Health Research Institute in Seattle is currently testing whether the vaccine is safe for human use. (source: Reuters, http://www.nih.gov/news-events/ )

In China, researchers at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences have received approval to launch early-stage clinical trials of the potential vaccine, as reported by state media. (Source: Reuters)

U.S. drug maker Pfizer are collaborating with Germany’s BioNTech to co-develop a potential vaccine for the coronavirus. (Source: Reuters)

Experts at the World Health Organisation say they do not expect any fully tested and approved vaccine to reach the market until the middle of 2021. (Source Reuters, WHO  http://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/ )

Another form of hope I have personally found helpful is in the Holy Bible,

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength … ” 

book of Isaiah chapter 40 verse 31

All the best,



Posted in research science, Uncategorized, Virus | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments