Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Supremely Bad Ideas in Engineering

Via Rand Simberg, I came across this NasaWatch post where a NASA employee's farewall email was posted. Reading the comments was mind-boggling. NASA doesn't have an integrated CAD/PDM system?! How is that even possible? I mean my company has three major design locations in North America and we manage to have a pretty good system for tracking CAD changes and design modifications. Still, my company designs seatbelts & airbags with usually less than 100 parts. How on earth can you design a spacecraft with thousands or millions of parts without integrated CAD/PDM? With all the NASA locations how does anyone know what anyone else is doing?

The grumbling about which CAD program to use is much more understandable. Engineers hate changing the way they work for any reason. If it's a good change, they'll come around eventually. If it's a bad change, you will never hear the end of it. Switching platforms midstream is a pain but I don't think it's as big of a deal as the fact that NASA locations have no way to integrate their design data. Please tell me they at least have a decent intra-NASA file-sharing network.....Anyone?

Needless to say, I'm going to work with a newfound appreciation for my company's CAD standards.

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