Monday, January 7, 2013

Engineering Adventures Course

I am scheduling this to be published while I am leading the first day of the Engineering Adventures with Nevil Shute course.  I will write about the course occasionally in this blog.

Since I announced it in the blog in November, several things have happened.

  • The course has been filled and over-subscribed.  
  • The Nevil Shute Norway Foundation discovered the course and the American librarian will attend the course and probably record it for the Society.  I am very pleased about this!  The Foundation has members all over the world. If you like Nevil Shute, I encourage you to visit the Foundation web page.
  • I set up a page on my personal web page for downloads about the course.  So far, the 2-page course syllabus is at that page, as well as several articles about the R100 and R101 Airships.

Here's the letter I sent to course participants:

Welcome to Engineering Adventures with Nevil Shute.

This study group meets four Monday mornings, 9:30 a.m., at the D.O.C. House.  The first meeting is January 7 and the last meeting is January 28.

Plus, as an extra added attraction: there will be an optional fifth session, Monday February 4 at 9 a.m.  In the optional session, we will watch the movie No Highway in the Sky, starring James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich.

The course is based upon Nevil Shute's books and on our own experiences with big, complex projects.  The two books are Slide Rule and No Highway.

Class participants are expected to read both books. If you can read them before the class begins, that would be terrific.  Otherwise:

  • Read Slide Rule, chapters 1-7, by the second week of class. That is the majority of the book, and it would be good if you finish the rest of the book. 
  • Read No Highway, chapters 1 through 7 by the third week of class
  • Finish No Highway by the fourth week of class.

The format for this course is based on Great Books of Management.  I belonged to this discussion group in California when I worked at Acurex (now part of A.D. Little consulting).  The group members were chemists and engineers.  As our responsibilities grew, we began becoming project managers. One of the senior managers started the group to help people become better managers.   We also were encouraged to take traditional courses in project management.

Great Books of Management had a simple thesis: We can learn about project management by studying fiction and non-fiction books that present typical problems.  We read Plutarch, Halberstrom, Dickens and Shakespeare.  Some of our best discussions were based on Nevil Shute’s books, and I have chosen those books for this course.

For each meeting, we spent one hour discussing the books from a management perspective.  Did people seek the right information?  Did they make appropriate decisions?  The second hour broadened the discussion to include own project histories. Faced with similar issues, did we seek the right information and make the appropriate decisions?

Engineering Adventures with Nevil Shute will follow the same format.  One hour on book discussion, one hour of our own experiences.  One hour book, one hour personal.

Read the books, prepare to share your own war stories, and be ready to have fun! I look forward to meeting you!

No comments: