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Passing on knowledge

  • 1.  Passing on knowledge

    Posted 07-09-2020 16:54
    Edited by Carrie Hawk 07-09-2020 17:12

    A question to seasoned professionals: What are you doing to pass on what you know to the next generation?


    Walter Sperko
    Sperko Engineering Services Incorporated
    Greensboro NC
    (336) 674-0600

  • 2.  RE: Passing on knowledge

    Posted 07-10-2020 08:28
    The only general way I see is to teach in Professional continuous education courses.
    Otherwise, you can hire one or two young professional and let them work with you on special cases. 
    Finally, if you are in a Consultant Engineering Company, knowledge is distributed by building a common base by rotating young graduates by working with more experienced people.

    Donato FIRRAO FASM
    Politecnico di Torino

  • 3.  RE: Passing on knowledge

    Posted 07-10-2020 08:28
    The next generation is typically not interested.

    Back in around 2007 here in Chicago near IIT Campus we had an ASM meeting after work meeting on this very topic - the ASM elders gave many examples of how students could benefit from a formal added course to the schools on practical applicaition from our local metallurgist with many years of experience and egar to pass on thier knwoledge.  Simple answer was "No thanks".  The Japanese have a syaing - "When the student is ready - the teacher will come".

    Besides what did I get from the prevoius generation ? - mostly of my learing beyound school can from opening up a book (learing how to learn is most important aside from motiovation) and nowday YouTube provides plenty of material to learn  - side note: the "periscope" presentation on Forgings is quite informative - much more than any information passed to me from forging metallurgist that I ever met.

    Edward Vojcak
    Senior Metallurgical Engineer
    SGS North America
    Blue Island IL
    (708) 595-8734

  • 4.  RE: Passing on knowledge

    Posted 07-12-2020 22:31
    You are correct, Ed.

    Marin Manole
    Foundry Metallurgist
    Coffeyville KS
    (616) 227-1668

  • 5.  RE: Passing on knowledge

    Posted 07-10-2020 15:23
    Most of my files are paper, articles that I found useful or perhaps could find useful if I needed that. If I were hit by the proverbial bus tonight, 95% of that would end up in the dumpster.  Some of the books would be claimed. When some of our consultants had passed on to the great metallurgical lab in the sky, for the most part that was the fate of their library. But it is the experience gained over the years that is not written down that is of most value.  How do you look at certain problems, who do you turn to for help in specialized areas, understanding what is normal metallurgically and what is not normal, etc.  I am afraid a lot of that will be left to the next generation to rediscover.  MTI is looking at how to pass on this experience as a number of the current experts in the field are retiring, but so far there is no magic formula for this.

    Gary Coates
    Manager, Technical
    Nickel Institute
    Mississauga ON

  • 6.  RE: Passing on knowledge

    Posted 07-11-2020 15:41
    I learned a lot from others who I worked with. And I learned a lot from technical references.

    I was fortunate to have the opportunity to pass along much of my knowledge to younger engineers at work. Also, we kept a good and searchable archive of failure analysis reports which should benefit successor engineers.

    I did offer to give a talk to undergraduates at my old school about the realities of being an engineer as a replaceable commodity, and related topics, but that was met with no enthusiasm. In that situation I don't think that the students will even be aware of the need for that until long after they have graduated, and the faculty there does not have enough industrial experience to be aware of those matters.

    Paul Tibbals

  • 7.  RE: Passing on knowledge

    Posted 07-12-2020 22:32
    I do everything...if they listen.

    Marin Manole
    Foundry Metallurgist
    Coffeyville KS
    (616) 227-1668

  • 8.  RE: Passing on knowledge

    Posted 07-13-2020 11:25
    As a younger Metallurgist (been working in industry since graduating with my B.S. in 2012), I'd like to add a different perspective to the conversation.

    I've found that having opportunities to build my own experience, work through process issues first-hand, and sometimes fail, has been the best thing my boss has provided me (the next generation). I have been enormously fortunate to have a boss and mentor that supports continuing education, allowing me to attend various ASM and AIST training courses over the years. These courses are great introductions to subjects relevant to my work that I did not study in school. However, having hands-on experience on the shop floor, then talking through issues I encountered and how to address them, THAT has been most helpful and beneficial in my professional development and education. Simply having a discussion about a past process issue is helpful, but allowing me to dig into it myself while still providing insights and coaching has really made the biggest impression and helped me learn the most. 

    Having an archive of lab reports that include a wide range of process conditions (in electronic form), has also been a useful learning tool.

    Liesl Ammerlaan
    Amsted Rail
    Petersburg VA
    (804) 732-0202 x24334

  • 9.  RE: Passing on knowledge

    Posted 07-14-2020 10:42
    Failure is highly instructive. It is humbling, and that humility is beneficial. Getting back up from the mud is strengthening. I'm not sure that these lessons can be learned (at least by some of us) any other way. 

    John Grubb

  • 10.  RE: Passing on knowledge

    Posted 07-18-2020 09:35
    I agree about failure being instructive.  "When you don't get what you expected, what you got was experience!"

    However there is no need to re-invent all wheels.  Stand on the shoulders of those who went before you and make your own mistakes, rather than repeating history, would be my recommendation.  Archival or "tribal" knowledge is really valuable and some managers don't make the right call with respect to older learning.

    Paul Tibbals

  • 11.  RE: Passing on knowledge

    Posted 07-19-2020 11:28
    This is very true!

    This is just my personal opinion- Usually I have observed that more often than not experienced folks can precisely tell you what may happen, sometimes not knowing why... My recommendation is that one has to pay close attention to someone with experience. If you are a curious person and have time to research, investigate the problem. You could make progress in explaining why if possible. That could be your contribution. It is important to push the knowledge database forward even if so very slightly. Disseminating the contribution is equally important! 

    My 2 cents


    Shreyas Balachandran
    Research Faculty
    ASC/National High Magnetic Field Lab
    Tallahassee FL

  • 12.  RE: Passing on knowledge

    Posted 07-13-2020 12:37
    As someone new to the industry I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to work with the guy who was retiring for about two months.  He passed me his electronic files and quizzed me to find out how little I knew before he retired(and pointed me in the right direction).  The best part was working with him (at least for a little while) gave me a chance to take notes and not start with a gap of having the role vacant.

      I have done a lot of reading Krauss's book "Steels: Processing, Structure, and Performance" and Degarmo's "Materials and processes in Manufacturing" as well as some ASM courses has helped get me started.  It is amazing how there is always something new to learn everyday.  And what great text books are out there, the best books still seam to be from the 1945-1970 when textbooks were written to be read cover to cover, like a book and not just a reference book(modern textbooks seem to be written to read one chapter with examples to get information and be done without the context of the rest of the book).

    I hate to say it but I did not truly appreciate learning when I was a student.  It was after I had taught welding as an adjunct instructor and was doing production welding that I really found an appreciation for continuous learning and the relentless search for knowledge. 

    This forum is read by people eager and hungry for the knowledge and wisdom of those who have come before so thank you for your contributions.

    David Lammers
    Total Component Solutions
    Rock Valley IA

  • 13.  RE: Passing on knowledge

    Posted 07-15-2020 18:49
    David said, <As someone new to the industry I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to work with the guy who was retiring for about two months. He passed me his electronic files and quizzed me to find out how little I knew before he retired(and pointed me in the right direction). The best part was working with him (at least for a little while) gave me a chance to take notes and not start with a gap of having the role vacant.>
    Two months is way better than nothing!  Many firms are moving towards a model of allowing those approaching retirement to do one or both of these things:
    -Dial down the hours gradually, which among other things may lessen the shock of transition.
    -Spend a significant amount of PAID, PLANNED time in one's last several months in an advisory / transitional role with the express goal of doing knowledge transfer and download to archives and to employees who will be handling some of the roles and tasks of the retiree.

    I attended internal company presentations that touted the benefits of this approach. Ask your HR professionals if they have heard of this approach.  My firm talked the talk but did not walk the walk in this area, instead preferring to dump new work onto me non-stop until the date of departure.

    Management may say that they want knowledge transfer to occur.  But if they do not provide a mechanism and support for it and instead demand that one remain "charge-able" to client accounts to the maximum, they are ignoring the cost of losing decades of accumulated knowledge and wisdom on the retirement of experienced workers.  That cost is perhaps hidden or ignored, but it is very real.  I did provide guidance to younger engineers where I could, but that was a far smaller knowledge transfer than could have happened, and I feel that I was penalized in performance reviews for not having more billable hours rather than mentoring others even to the limited extent that I did.

    Paul Tibbals

  • 14.  RE: Passing on knowledge

    Posted 07-13-2020 14:59
    Personally, after 25 years in industry I went back to university and set up a course to teach practical skills to Materials Engineering students; includes writing proper engineering reports.

    Carl Adams
    Laboratory Manager
    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    Troy NY
    (518) 888-0596

  • 15.  RE: Passing on knowledge

    Posted 07-17-2020 10:31
    Currently I am still an intern but I graduate in december. However, in my last internship position I had the opportunity to work in a small materials engineering department in a big automotive company where I was under the direct supervision of the Metallurgist Sr. During our continuous collaboration we would always have technical discussions on issues recently experienced on the shop floor, on physical metallurgy of heat treatments or about problems he had the opportunity to experience many years ago. All those hours of talking and discussing helped me to connect all the theory I learned in school with actual industrial processes, common issues experienced on the floor and how to fix them.

    In conclusion, to have technical discussions with  young metallurgists was his way of passing on his knowledge and experience.

    Jose Flores Herrera
    Metallurgist Intern
    Fundicion Lerma
    San Nicol�s de los Garza

  • 16.  RE: Passing on knowledge

    Posted 07-20-2020 12:25
    Hi Walter,
    the problem I see is not just how the current professionals pass on their knowledge but how we get the youngsters interested enough as they go through school and take aim at potential careers. How many school teachers or career officers in schools that know what metallurgy or materials science is and what i can lead to.?

    Martin Reeves
    fontec-global LLC
    Holland MI
    (616) 635-4283

  • 17.  RE: Passing on knowledge

    Mexico Admin
    Posted 07-21-2020 15:53
    Mine it's a family company started by my father Jorge Carrasco,  in the heat treat furnace business back in 1965, I'm the 2nd generation with over 35+ years of experience now. My son Sebastian Carrasco (20 years old) is willing to continue this path, half way his mechanical & electrical engineer at colege, everytime I can I take him with me to visit customers of different industries. So he can understand the importance of engineering

    [Carlos] [Carrasco]
    [Sales Director]
    [Carrasco Hornos]
    [Mexico] [Mexico DF]
    [+52 5556640951]

  • 18.  RE: Passing on knowledge

    Posted 07-23-2020 09:50
    Good question!  I'm an Mechanical Engineer with a lot of machining, cold and hot forming experience.  Also a lot of mechanical design and drafting experience.  I think that it's hard to pass on knowledge to a generation that has been educated with computers that have taken the "grunt work" out of learning.  One example that I find is that a lot of young Engineers that I have been dealing with can't draw a formal drawing.  They rely on AutoCAD or Solidworks to make the decisions for them since they have never learned the core basics of drawing, dimensioning, etc.  A lot of schools don't offer that.  Another example is that there are not many schools that offer manual machining courses where you can learn chip forming and evacuation techniques.  I think that our young engineers are eager to learn if we can give them the "hands on" experience that forms the basis of today's technology.  I continue to use my hard copy books to teach and point out where the theory comes from.

    Ron Tansits
    Quality Manager
    Pennsylvania Extruded Tube Company
    Clarks Summit PA