As a technical writer in engineering and IT, I have spent countless hours documenting procedures, equations, laboratory instructions, manuals, specifications, and the like. As critical and satisfying as that work is (to me and my kin), something was always missing. And it took more than 15 years and many professional iterations to figure out what.
Turns out, it’s people.
Since I became an editor of Design World and our sibling publications, Fluid Power World and R&D World, a little more than a year ago, I’ve met incredible people who influence our world and move technology — and humanity — forward.
I’ve met inventors of ingenious patented technology. Academic professors and researchers developing world-changing innovations. CEOs of powerful companies. Engineers whose minds could be studied for centuries and never fully understood or replicated.
For instance, Sir David McMurtry, co-founder and chief executive of Renishaw, who changed the aerospace industry forever in 1973 with revolutionary metrology solutions. He humbly walked beside me as I toured Renishaw’s manufacturing facility in Wales during a press tour.
Tatiana Minav, professor at Tampere University, chaired the SICFP 2023 conference in Finland and fearlessly leads fluid power’s evolution in the age of electrification. She escorted me around the Innovative Hydraulics and Automation Mobile Laboratory with poise and a wonderful sense of humor.
K.C. Liu, founder and chairman of Advantech, saw the future of industrial computing in 1983 and is now a leader in automation and the Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT). He was approachable and relatable at the 2023 Advantech Industrial IoT World Partner Conference in Taipei, as he addressed my questions during a press meeting.
Jim Heppelmann, chairman and CEO of PTC, took the reins in 2010 and elevated the company’s status as a global leader in software technology. He shook my hand cordially and shared a few laughs during Dierks Bentley’s performance at LiveWorx 2023. (He’ll pass the torch to Neil Barua in February.)
Eileen Collins, retired U.S. Air Force colonel and NASA astronaut, was the first woman to pilot and command a space shuttle mission. She told me her inspirational story during an interview, which felt like a private mentoring session on life and career — a treasure I’ll always hold onto.
These people (and so many others) are remarkable, and their dedication to problem-solving and collaboration advances technology, changing what’s possible for decades to come.
But they didn’t start on top.
No, they started like Asa Garner, a mechanical engineering student who leads the Space Enterprise at Berkeley structures team and designs and launches custom rockets. And Mark Finley, an engineering graduate of Texas A&M who led the school’s fluid power club to victory in a vehicle design contest in 2023. And Charlotte Böhning, a Pratt Institute graduate and inventor of the Gutsy Port, a revolutionary medical port design that enables bag-free moments for ostomates.
The list goes on.
As we launch into this new year with new inventions and new problems to solve, I can’t wait to meet more outstanding individuals who consistently and courageously move technology forward.
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Filed Under: Commentaries • insights • Technical thinking