Review of The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (Simon & Schuster, 2014)

innovators-isaacsonReading a blog post like this one is something we all do multiple times a day. As early as 20 years ago, such a concept was still entirely unknown to the rest of the world. Walter Isaacson’s “The Innovators…” book is a history telling of the players involved from the early days of Ada Lovelace all the way through to Google’s search success.

Here are some of my favorite highlights from the book.

the martian book review

The Martian (2014)

The Martian by Andy Weir is an engineer’s dream story. The story opens with Mark Watney being stranded on Mars after an accident occurs. The book is a collection of his daily logs on the Martian surface, chronicling the measures he takes to stay alive.

Rarely do I read a fiction book so well thought out, I start solving the problems along with the characters.  Midway through I was excited because I would see Mark’s solution as one of the possible answers in my head. I also found myself invested in what happens to Mark. He is a likeable guy and, at least for me, easily relatable.

One cliché I didn’t care for was the “evil” mission control characters. NASA has struck me as an organization that is pretty level-headed, with most of its decision makers have some engineering background. A few times it seems mission control has lost their mind–like you see in poorly written movies.

That flaw is pretty minor, though, especially compared to the quality of the overall writing.

If you are someone who has a passion for space exploration, interest in going to Mars, and an engineer: The Martian by Andy Weir is a must-read.

A Whole New Engineer

A Whole New Engineer (ThreeJoy Associates, Inc., 2014)

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to join The Engineering Commons podcast to talk about capacitors on episode 93. I had been a listener of the podcast because I heard about it in this book. A Whole New Engineer looks at the changes are needed in engineering education. My personal interest was to see if there were elements I could apply to the AddOhms Electronics Tutorials I create. Like all aspects of our lives, evoluation is occuring and educaiton is no different. On top of that, traditional education techniques rarely prepare students for live after school.

The traditional weed-out lecture courses and stand-alone research projects are a thing of the past.

The stories about Olin College of Engineering were eye opening. Thinking back to my time at Purdue, I wished I could have been at the foundation of a new curriculum (though, I’m glad I had the one I did.) My eye opener with the Olin example is how it is analogous to the “real world.” Traditional engineering education silos instructor from the student, in much the same way large corporations silo work functions. The idea of breaking down those silos between Instructor (manager) and Student (employee) to achieve an overall goal is very progressive and based on the research provided, rewarding.

Whether you are involved in engineering education or, like me, just have passion for sharing it–I highly recommend this excellent book. Whether if you’re writing tutorials, creating a classroom, putting together a workshop, or even helping out with STEM, there are key tidbits you will pull from this book.

Check out A Whole New Engineer on Amazon.

Eight Amazing Engineering Stories: Using the Elements to Create Extraordinary Technologies

Eight Amazing Engineering Stories: Using the Elements to Create Extraordinary Technologies (Articulate Noise Books, April 7, 2012)

Bill Hammock’s “Engineer Guy” podcast series was one of my first video podcast subscriptions.  His explanation videos hit the right balance between “high level’ and “low-level” details in a few short minutes, which was actually an inspiration for the format of AddOhms.  With each of his videos, you will learn something and get a few laughs–which is rare for engineering related videos.

His book, with co authors,  “Eight Amazing Engineering Stories“, was added to my Kindle App as soon as it became available.  The book breaks down everyday objects and technologies down to their science and engineering fundamentals.

Let’s be honest, nothing here is something you can’t find on Wikipedia.  However, what you won’t find is the awesome presentation style, a trademark of Hammock.

If you want to know how elements like Silicon, Cesium, and Tungsten have made their way into our lives.  Or how Atomic Clocks, Microwaves, and Accelerators work–along with their back story, this book is for you.

Whenever I have a few minutes to fill, I find myself scrolling around the book to pick up new tidbits.

Review: 5 out of 5 LEDs

Review Rating: 5/5 LEDs

Overall, I give this effort a 5 LED review.  It’s not an expensive buy and deserves a place on any enginerd’s shelf, virtual or otherwise.

Signal and Power Integrity Cover

Signal and Power Integrity – Simplified (2nd Edition) ( Prentice Hall, 2009)

Let me start by saying, this book is not for new comers, or (ugh) “newbies”, to electronics.  This book is intended for those who have a solid understanding of electrical engineering fundamentals, but want to expand to the next level.  Bogatin’s amount of detail is on-par with a textbook but writing style is more casual.

Understanding signal integrity use to be “Black Magic.”  It is taught in a language which resembles engineering speak, but sounds like randomly assembled terms purposefully meant to confuse people.  Personally, I remember hearing “signal integrity engineers talk” and wondered if they were speaking in code.

Review: 5 out of 5