It’s Gonna Beeeeeeeeee…


Not only is that a reference to being done with IPT Madness, it’s a reference to the softball I lobbed out of the park during the question-and-answer session that followed our presentation.

You see, on Monday night, the team leaders showed off their designs to each other. We designed an unmanned hybrid [that is, air and ground capable] vehicle [UHV] for the U.S. Army. Our design had a coaxial rotorcraft that had four fixed wheels powered by electric motors for the ground mission. Our two competitors had the same concept … but they dispatched an electrically-powered ground car after landing. We’d rejected that idea very early on as being too complex for this concept–you’d have to have locking mechanisms and all sorts of fun stuff in order to make that work.

Anyhow, our first slide had our design goals: “Simple — Reliable — Efficient — Lightweight — Meets or Exceeds Requirements.” Dr. Suzy Young, head of the Aviation Systems Directorate out at the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, asked the last question: “Why did you choose those five design goals?”

In a split-second, I had the following thought flash through my mind:

You know, the reason our design kicks ass is because it’s simple. You know that the other two teams made it very complex. Hammer that. Hammer that. It’s a hanging curveball. Beat the shit out of that ball!

So, I did.

“Well, Dr. Young, we wanted a simple vehicle, because this is intended for use on the battlefield. We could have gone with a two-piece system and dispatched a ground car, but we discussed that and decided that it would add a whole level of complexity to the design without giving us much in the way of added benefit. We wanted reliability and efficiency because this would be for military use …”

My systems engineer, Jamie, was sitting next to me, trying not to laugh. Our instructor was laughing and tellling someone in the back of the room the significance of what I’d just done. I got tickled at myself and almost got distracted in the rest of my [you guessed it] pre-planned answer.

I can’t believe I got the opportunity to slap the other two designs that hard. I also can’t believe that I didn’t hesitate one iota to answer. I was reticent to make use of the knowledge I had, but I didn’t.

I can be such a ruthless bastard.


  1. Hmmmmmmm. I think that can be arranged later today. If any of you want, I’ll actually throw a copy of our final paper up here [though I’ll cut the size down a skosh]; otherwise, I’ll just put the spec and the slide show online.

  2. Okay … hit

    There are two Word files; one is obviously our final paper [although I excised the appendices, because otherwise, it’s an 11MB paper, and the appendices were more for Dr. Frederick’s benefit than anyone else’s–copies of the spec, the white paper we did in Phase 2, and resumes of all team members were in there], and the other is the Rev. 7 final copy of the Concept Description Document we used.

    The PowerPoint presentation is probably what you want to look at if you’re not a geeky engineer. If you’re a geeky engineer, you’ll want to read it all.

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