Alexander Slocum, MIT Mechanical Engineering Professor | How to Determine if an Idea is Worth Pursuing
How to determine if an idea is worth pursuing? In this episode, we talk about how to tinker and proactivity hacks, how to achieve work-life balance, how to monetize your mechanical design ideas, and lastly, how to manage mechanical design engineers and designers.
Our guest, Alexander Slocum is a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. He is one of the authorities in the realm of mechanical design. Prof. Slocum authored two books on machine design: Precision Machine Design, and FUNdaMENTALs of Design, and published more than 150 papers and has 130+ issued patents.
Professor Slocum regularly works with companies on the development of new products. Moreover, he’s a part of a team that developed 11 products that have been awarded R&D 100 awards.
To add to his credentials, he is also a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Interestingly, he was the assistant director for advanced manufacturing in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the White House in 2013.
EXPAND TO VIEW EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION
people, patent, tinkering, design, company, called, notebook, question, product, buy, soap, engineer, run, work, ego, thinking, idea, money, kid, bearings
Aaron Moncur, Rafael Testai, Alexander Slocum
Aaron Moncur 00:00
Hey everyone, we’re looking to add a new member to our engineering team. Ideally, we’re looking for a senior level mechanical design engineer in the Phoenix area, who has experienced designing custom automated machines, equipment and test fixtures. Also, having working experience with controls and system integration is a plus. If you’d like to apply or suggest someone, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Being An Engineer podcast is a repository for industry knowledge and a tool through which engineers learn about and connect with relevant companies, technologies, people resources and opportunities. Enjoy the show!
Alexander Slocum 00:45
And remember, physics starts with the letters PH, which is also the starting of the word philosophy. If you don’t understand the philosophy, you have no hope of applying the math and often philosophy is all you need.
Rafael Testai 01:14
Hello, and welcome to the Being An Engineer Show. Today we have an incredible guest, his name is Alexander Slocum. He’s a professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, and is one of the authorities in the realm of Mechanical Design. He has written two books on machine design, precision machine design and fundamentals of design. There’s a free download at predatory.mit.edu and that’s going to be in the show notes. He has published more than 150 papers, has 130 plus issued patents. Alex regularly works with companies on the development of new products and has been significantly involved with invention and development of 11 products that have been awarded R&D Top 100 Awards. Alex is a fellow of the ASME and the recipient of this society of manufacturing engineers Frederick W. Taylor Research Medal, ASME Leonardo da Vinci Award, the ASME Machine Design Award, and the Association of Manufacturing Technology Charlie Carter Award. He’s a member of the National Academy of Engineering and was the Assistant Director for Advanced Manufacturing in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the White House in 2013. He loves woodworking, snowboarding, hunting, and enjoying sports like marathons and triathlons. Alex, welcome to the show!
Alexander Slocum 02:34
Rafael Testai 02:35
That was such an intro. Alright, so let’s dive right in. Saying that you’ve been very successful is an understatement. When we first talked on the phone, you asked me to refer you as Alex. So I have a couple of contacts at MIT, where you’re professor and they told me that you have a reputation of having no ego. You’re all about results and helping people. How did you manage to be so successful and have no ego?
Alexander Slocum 03:03
Well, I spent my early years on the beach in California, and you know, on the beach, I think everybody is just who you are right? You’re all they’re having a good time. And then raised, you know, by my mom and dad, who were my mother was a Mathematician, dad was a Physicist. And they both taught me that we stand on the shoulders of giants, who still also stood on the shoulders of giants going way back. So whenever you think you’re so beautiful, and wonderful and marvelous, and the best thing, that’s okay to help you keep going when things are tough but you got to remember that without all those other people before you and the team weren’t around you, you’re just another happy life form out there on the beach. So chill out, dude.
Rafael Testai 03:51
Yeah, there’s somebody in our team, his name is Michael and he always says that phrase, “We stand on the shoulders of giants”. He’s a very humble person and he also has like no ego. So alright, so next question is, is it possible to raise a family while you have a very powerful career? Could you share some of the tips on work life balance, please?
Alexander Slocum 04:13
Yeah, I think the most important thing is to know when to leave work alone and when to be with a family but those are words that everyone says so here’s how you actually do it. You take a deep breath and you recognize that when you’re banging your head against the wall to solve a problem, you dent the wall and flatten your head. You may start to make inroads on the problem but there’s a time to take a deep breath, walk away from it and change your operating environment or change the brain chemistry get the endorphins flowing, get good things happening. And that problem that exists in your mind, right, it will come back and your brain will be working on it working, working, working, working, working and then “Bing!” a solution. Now the other thing, there’s two other real practical things. When when I first got married when my wife was a graduate student, I was a junior professor, we had stuff to do and somehow she got pregnant. We’re still trying to figure out how that happened. No way you have time when you’re working so hard, right? And then “Boop!”, kid appears. So they’ll be times like, you know, she has to take a test or she was a teaching assistant, so I’m watching the kid. And I figured, okay, kid, stay there and watch me work while I focus. Now the kid is going gap, gap, yeah, yeah, yeah, flat flat. And then, and then I realized, let me try this, I think maybe my mother suggested it, get down on the floor, put the kid in the floor, kind of like putting baby Yoda on the floor, you know?
Rafael Testai 05:48
Alexander Slocum 05:50
Yeah. And, and I got, you know, your big sheets of this stuff they used to use in the last millennium, it’s called paper. I think somebody used to pronounce it pay-per. And these things called cray-ons, right and they’re really neat. They’re there, you can, the kid can eat them, you get multicolored poo, they’re not toxic, there’s no caps to leave off to dry out either. They always work and they’re bright colors. So, you know, paper and crayons for the older set here. And so I’d start sketching stuff and the kid was so happy because I was on the floor with the kid playing. Now the kid didn’t know I was drawing a transmission, or working out the block diagram for the control logic for a machine. All the kid cared about that I was with the kid, bright colors. And I would make monsters and you know, floral scenes and stuff because gears make really pretty flowers. So I found this weird thing that sitting on the floor with my kid drawn thinking about work, but watching the kid playing, you know, you get a, it’s fun, your brain has got endorphins flowing. It’s a different kind of chemistry that’s going on in there. And I was thought different, and then much more creative or different creative. And I got a lot done. It’s like, dude. So I, yeah, I pass it on to everyone I can to, you can do that. Now the other thing you do is you get a spinner and not one of these fancy ones where you’re connected to the internet and blah, blah, blah. But you just get a basic spinner for your bike, and you get kind of a music stand type thing. So you’re spinning, getting exercise while you’re reading through, because a lot of stuff you got to do for work only takes three, maybe four brain cells. And so you can spin at a reasonable rate, get your heart rate reasonable, while you’re reading through reports and all that stuff and get exercise. So I would get up real early while everyone was still [snoring sound] and then I’d go nuts or spinning and get a lot of my reading done for the day. And then you get off the spinner, everyone’s up and you have breakfast. Nice days to get everyone off to that and then then you go work.
Rafael Testai 08:01
I really like the answer about the crayons getting on the floor, that’s very clever. So one day when I become a dad, I think when I try that too. And, (interrupted). You go ahead.
Alexander Slocum 08:11
So keep practicing on working to be a dad. It’s an important part of building a family is practice. Right?
Rafael Testai 08:21
Alexander Slocum 08:22
Keeping the endorphins blown.
Rafael Testai 08:24
So I also wanted to add that you have something similar with Aaron Moncur, who’s the President of Pipeline, the company that sponsors the show, and he’s also the host of the show, he actually disassembled a treadmill and put it under his standup desk so he walks while he has a lot of video calls and he gets his exercise in, so he has a big family too.
Alexander Slocum 08:46
Yeah, the walking desks, I think they started with exactly like that folks like Aaron made their own. And then now, if you’re not able to do that, I think you can actually buy them. But yeah, walking while doing this stuff or spinning, anything to keep the blood flowing and the calories burning is good.
Rafael Testai 09:04
I’m still trying to visualize your bike setup, like do you have your laptop where your handlebars are, is that how you have it set up?
Alexander Slocum 09:11
Well, no, I built like this music stand out of old stuff steel, and then plywood top, it’s in an angle. And the plywood top in an angle is cantilevered out so it’s overtop of the handlebars. So I’m usually you know down with one hand on the handlebars, or just sitting up while I’m pedaling and I got my laptop on there or paper I’m reading and I can move it around a little bit.
Rafael Testai 09:41
And do you ever use the voice command to respond or the always type with your fingers?
Alexander Slocum 09:48
I ended up trying that I’m sure there’s better software and the software has evolved. It works okay, but then I have to go back I can make a lot of corrections, although some people who see my emails and stuff would say, “Hmm, is that Alex typing with only a few what’s left of his fingers? Or is that left of his hand?
Rafael Testai 10:10
For sure, when it when it comes to emails, a lot of time is done is better than perfect.
Alexander Slocum 10:15
Rafael Testai 10:15
Respond in a timely manner, do the best you can. So let’s see, so you have a lot of people or people in your lab, and there are, I was wondering, what are three tips for managers who manage mechanical design engineers? The more specific, the better.
Alexander Slocum 10:33
The first thing is to help them realize what we just talked about, that you can have a family and you know a life and do great at work and pass on the the crayon and paper trick. Because if they’re happier at home, they’ll be happier at work, and they’ll be more productive. The next thing is, I try to practice, you know, using humor, a little bit of self deprecation at times. If I can show them, the people who work with me that I don’t have any ego, then hey, damn, well, better not have one too, right? So that’s, you got to set the example and then after that, a lot of peer review. Going around the circles, we have this thing we call prepper, peer review evaluation process. And it’s sometimes you have a team that is just wired through the ether of the air, so everything clicks, and other times you have team of all different kinds of mind processes, and it’s hard to get all those squirrels lined up so your herd of cats can make the move. What what I try to encourage them to do is, you know, the way you can be heard, and that’s so critical, people want to be heard. And the way you can hear, it’s so critical to to hear so you can find ideas, is that we say you got a hard problem is just agree with the problem is, get everybody in their in their design notebook, or scraps of paper, whatever, go away and think by yourself and write your ideas down in accordance with the functional requirements of what you’re supposed to be solving the problem of, right? You do that all alone and then you come back as the team and you just pass around the notebooks. And everybody reads what everyone else has done with no talking, you know, you take the notebook back and read it by yourself and feel free to comment on it scribble like, Oh, geez, I don’t think that’ll work that’s gonna break well, and then you do a quickie calculation as to the moment of inertia and stresses and is the thing on a break. And if you can fix or better the idea that’s in front of you, you do so right in their notebook. Then y’all come back together. Everybody reads what’s been written in their notebook by everyone else. Know, you have this collective mind if you have to absorb the thoughts of all people together. Then you brainstorm because if you don’t do that, what you’ve ended up happening is you got a whole bunch of smart people in a room and everyone has “Oh, I think I think I know, well, I think, yeah”, and everybody’s so busy saying what they think because they want to be heard that they don’t listen to the other people always. Now you as a manager, me as a manager, I now have a written record of who was the original thinker of the thought. So when it does come time for promotions and patents and stuff, we we really have it written down as to who’s doing what, because sometimes, you got to call the litter, right? And there you will find in every organization, particularly as your organization gets bigger, there are people talk a great story, and they’re always right there to explain what the team is doing. But those people didn’t always have the idea and now I can see if that’s true, and they’re just a voice or not, because I can look at the notebooks. No, no, I hope that wasn’t too too long winded.
Rafael Testai 14:06
No, that’s amazing. I’m actually taking notes myself when you’re saying this. So passing around the notebooks, so I guess when people join your lab, they are given a notebook or you ask them to have their notebook, right?
Alexander Slocum 14:18
Yeah, ask him to have a notebook. You know, I am horrifically bad at this. I got paper all over my office here. I got 123 open notebooks, four or five notepads? So I do a lot of scribbling and then I do a lot of scan and enter. My excuses: severe, scatterbraine defication. Right? So I just I tell people, look, it’s preferable if you have a notebook that you put everything in. If not, if you have scraps of paper, a three ring binder or folder, but certainly in today’s world, just with your phone, you scan it all in, right?, so but I know I’m not really rigid on enforcing those specific personal habits of notebook with, you know, stickers on the side. Engineer, they’re too creative and if you start doing that often, you’ll stifle the creativity.
Rafael Testai 15:18
I’ve heard a saying that says something along the lines of never have a meeting that’s so big that a pizza one pizza is, is too little for the room, basically. So how big are your meetings where people are passing around their notebooks? What’s the Max?
Alexander Slocum 15:34
Oh yeah, with a design team like that, you know, three to five at most. Okay, you can’t do this with, you know team people. If you have a big design team on a big project, I think in general, almost every project I can think of, you know, it’s like a waterflow, there’s a big complex design is chopped up into modules. And then modules may have sub modules. And you’ll get down eventually to three or four-ish. And then the person responsible for the module, where there’s a team of, you know, three to five people on that module. Well, each modules, Team Leader, then gets together to do that process. See, it’s like a bubble up.
Rafael Testai 16:22
I see. I feel like you have a sixth sense when it comes to almost tell what people are like, and I imagine that a lot of people want to apply and work at your lab, and you have to be somewhat selective and who can join who can’t unfortunately, they’re not unlimited spots. So when you have maybe that interview session with the student that wants to join your lab? Number one, how can you detect if there’s like an ego? And number two, what’s this speech like? So you’ve prepped them, so you put, the “put the ego at the door” is how you say, just leave the ego at the door?
Alexander Slocum 16:53
Yeah, I never tell anybody that right up front, I’ll you know, kind of give here’s the internal of my lab, you know, we don’t have egos that people can see, because my office is a mess. And I wear bright colors, and my hair is in all directions. It’s always been that way. And you know, the chemistry is different. Some people must have a suit and tie. And they will only work for someone with a suit and tie and God bless them. Everybody needs to burn the chemistry that makes them feel happy. And there is a such a wide variety of chemistries out there that everybody can find their place. So that’s the first thing. So the second thing is I just started talking with people and I want to hear what they do. And then I follow a thread, and then I watched them. My office is full of stuff. It’s a junkyard, and my table is just packed with junk stuff, bearings, all kinds of stuff have collected over the years and I watched how they play. If you if you’re and again, it depends on everything, everything’s different, interviewing a software person is gonna be different than a machine design, everybody’s different. But for now we’ll focus on machine design and I watch how they play. And then I ask them questions, you know, well, that’s interesting. How do you how strong do you think that could be? You know, and then I have a big whiteboard and I say, you know, explain to me how you think we can make this better? And I don’t, I try not to do it as a challenge question but as a as if we were having a real design session, you as an engineer brought to me, your brilliant idea and we are working it out because we got to have production drawings ready in a week, dude, we got to make money. And prayer is, a really fantastic thing potentially in your personal life, does not belong in design. I was always telling me to start working well. I think that’s about right. Well, we got to optimize it. Well, I think based on my experience, and I usually say well, alright, but just remember, if you have to say, “Dear God, please make this piece of shit work”. I don’t feel like wanna drink beer with my buddies, so just make this shit work for me, please, dude. God will like look at you and say, “I give you a brain dude. You know, I got my own stuff to do universes to build etc, etc. No, you go figure it out.” Who I said that word Super Hyper Interactive Thinking, that’s the acronym. And if you want to use the German acronym aschit, it’s super critical, hyperactive interactive thinking.
Rafael Testai 19:31
For sure. This, I wasn’t prepared to ask you this question but I have to ask you just spread out in my mind. Where do you get all your energy enthusiasm from it’s really good.
Alexander Slocum 19:42
I’m actually a space alien. I feed upon the mortal souls of the humans. If you think about it, when you’re excited, and someone else is excited that you’re excited and they see you’re generally groovy about it. They get excited, so then you get excited and then, this is what being a human is about, it’s harnessing the energy of excitement. Good, now there’s the whole Yin Yang, where some people spread fear and hate to them, I think they assume will meet their fate. You know, the whole Yin Yang thing, right? So if you can get the positive energy flowing in the team, they are positive, you are positive, and you just have a better day. Now sometimes, you know, you have to be the meanie. So but we try to minimize the meanieness function required.
Rafael Testai 20:37
Sure thing, for my next question is somewhat of a long intro, so I’m going to talk for almost a minute, so I have to frame it correctly. So I like to ask people who have achieved success for advice in their areas of expertise. For instance, I would only ask a very fit person who has the body that I want for fitness and nutrition advice. So you’ve had plenty of triumphs, launching and monetizing your own inventions, which I admire. Hence, you’re absolutely perfect for this question. The majority of mechanical designers I know work for a company and develop what the client needs. I have a lot of respect for this. However, it seems somewhat unfortunate that once the contract or project ends, the mechanical designer doesn’t gain any further profit from the design they’re created. It’s like cutting the umbilical cord when the project is delivered, it becomes the project becomes our baby. So the four or five questions are for some of the mechanical designers have an enterprising mindset like myself. And I want to clarify that sometimes ambition can be seen in a negative light but if one has the right mindset, you’re doing things for the right reasons and you have, and you want to help people with your gifts or talents. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with striving for financial success. So question number one is, as a mechanical designer, I know that I can earn money by doing, A. Working at a company, B. Doing freelance work, is there another way in which mechanical designers can make money? So please expand our horizons? If there’s maybe a third or fourth path that we’re not aware of?
Alexander Slocum 22:08
There’s, there’s, that’s a really great question, by the way, there kind of is that it’s so simple, and in front of us that we we often don’t even see it. And as engineers, we’re human and all humans are looking for the fountain of youth. And if we have to remember, if something’s too good to be true, it usually is. So the best thing you can do other than the things you just mentioned, invest in the company in which you work. And if it’s not as not publicly traded, they should have made a way for every employee, like an employee stock option thing to invest in your own company. That’s the first one, why is that do interesting, you’ll find you know, capitalism is a very good thing. And if you’re working on something, if you’re a company, that man, this is a great product, this will motivate you to be do even better, right? Because the better you job you do, the more that will sell the more the value of your company’s stock. Now, that’s not going to make you rich overnight but remember, 1,2,4,8,16,32, you know, keep reinvesting at least a portion of the dividends or profits back into it. And if you now as an engineer, go back 20 years, and you can look at the stock market, and you can see went up and went down bla bla bla, but overall, if you stuck with it for the long term, investing in solid companies, they go up. Now, sometimes you’re lucky and you buy, you know, a Tesla or Apple or something. And it really goes up, so that’s the first thing. The second thing is return on investment in time. Let’s go back to the how you can work at home, you know, do stuff at home and be happier at work and at home. So, beware chasing money as opposed to chasing happiness is more is also very valuable. And that’s the first part of the answer unless you want me to dive deeper on something else.
Rafael Testai 24:19
Well, thank you for giving me a time to follow up on this because I wonder when one has an LLC, let’s see we’ll work it out at a company’s an LLC. Maybe we’re at the 10-15 employee mark, and the company doesn’t yet offer to sell its stocks to his team members so they can buy some a company stocks. My question would be when does a company what’s like a threshold that a company reaches from maturity wise that it is time for the company to perhaps start offering his employees to buy some of his stock? ,
Alexander Slocum 24:57
That’s a good question, I don’t think I have an answer. So I can guess now, I think it’s never too early. Now the you got to remember, everyone has to remember that, you know, equity, you guard with your life. Everybody wants to come in and say, Well, you know, I’ll give you advice and stuff, it’s only a percent. And there’s those folks out there who will roam about trying to get a percent of 100 different companies knowing that only 10% of them will ever succeed. And yet, once they get there percent, they disappear, and they don’t do anything. So this is where business folks or anybody who’s been doing companies before successfully knows you guard equity with your life. But on the other hand, you’re never going to grow your company to make you valuable unless your people are really motivated. So I think what you have to do is you have to say, here’s a plan, even when you say have above a few people with a vest investing. And so the people who are gonna stick with it will and you can award some, and I don’t think you can actually sell them stock, you can offer the ability to invest in the company, you got it, you got to be careful and talk to your business and tax people there. I’m a believer in you do this from early early on?
Rafael Testai 26:19
To think, okay, so for I guess any founders who have a company who may be interested in selling some of the stock to their employees, I guess you need to the next follow up would be just talk to your business people or tax people. Is that right? Yep. Yep. So you wanted to maybe finish? Finish the second half of that answer? If you still have it. Go ahead. I’m all yours.
Alexander Slocum 26:43
Yeah, you know, the other thing is you, you got to also as an engineer, so the first thing is an engineer, you got to do statistics, in long term, the trends and look at the data, as opposed to the human, “Oh, boy, you know, I’m gonna strike it rich”, the fountain of youth, the gambler that’s in us all, I think it’s part of our gene, see what the other side of the hill, maybe I’ll get there first, and have some more nuts and berries and things to eat. Because this probably goes back a long way but the next thing is to recognize that invention, I’m going to invent the next thing. Well, when you look at the data, again, somewhere around one and 100 patents actually make some reasonable money. Most of them are there, and it’s not that the other 99 are worthless. Often, it will take a family of patents in to be in support of what is actually the product that that does come out. But in general, just having a patent or a brilliant idea doesn’t get you anything. And here’s the funny thing, you’ll come up with an idea, man, it’s great. And your friends will look at it because you made a prototype. “Oh, that’s really cool, dude, you know, you you should patent that you should turn it into a product. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, I’m gonna do that dude”. All right and then when it comes time to actually take orders where they have to turn over the money? Nah, yeah. Times are pretty tough man, you know, like, you know, yeah, not really sure, you know, I got this other thing I’m saving up for. So in other words, you got to be really careful of having a great idea because people, your friends, and they want to be supportive. And they’ll tell you, it’s a great idea and it may seem like an okay idea but when it comes time to actually part with it, cash for it, that’s when you find most of them evaporate. Right, so you got to remember that, if you have a great idea, build it, make a bunch, try it but before you get too excited about actually going into production, make sure you have actual orders in hand. Because most ideas, you know, ideas are a dime a dozen, I’ve got a whole flock of them. That went nowhere will go nowhere but it was sure fun fantasizing about them.
Rafael Testai 28:58
Is there is there a particular trait about you see, have plenty of ideas, but those ideas have been successful. So is there a certain trait about the successful ideas that you’re able to identify?
Alexander Slocum 29:11
Well, okay, so I’ve had some really brilliant ideas. God, I’m so smart sometimes which, in other words, what an idiot, can’t believe I thought of that. I work mostly in machinery where the stuff I do requires a fair amount of, you know, specialized knowledge to create it. So it’s a little unfair, because if you don’t have the math, you can’t compete. And so if you can’t compete, that means I have less competition, which is easier, unfortunately, less need of things for that. Now, there’s a lot of consumer product type things, little gizmos. A lot more potential there that doesn’t really need any complex math to do but now you got a whole lot of people doing MC got a whole lot of competition. It’s like everything averages out to zero, right. Oh, so here, for example, I had this fantastic idea long ago, I noticed because I travel a lot, you know, they give you a bar soap. And I finished with a soap and then that by law, they have to throw it away. They’re not gonna leave the soap in the next person and you don’t want to check into a hotel was a bar soap, there was some strange hairs stuck to it. Most people don’t. You know but if you make the soap, just the amount of soap you need, now it breaks. Oh, man, dude, I got an idea and if you remember Pringles Potato chips., so you know, it’s doubly curved. So you could make a structure that’s very lightweight, that’s actually strong and then if you make it a certain way, it’s shady. It actually can massage and feel good. And so I carved up a bunch of bars of soap. And yeah, it works so when this has been my first consumer product, right, so I, we filed patent, we got the patent issued, it’s and I even called it Massages soap. And a buddy of mine, Mark Graham, it was a student and friend, we’ve helped co teach a lot and stuff. He has a rap group for fun, he does raps and Mark wrote a rap for it called massages. So when you want your body when you want to feel as good as you smell massage is still is when we entered this dial soap competition, we won. We’re steaming ahead boys to be great. And I can’t tell you which companies said you know, here 50 grand for your idea. walk away from it, I should have sold and I didn’t. And then I guess six months later, you started seeing all these bars of soap with the little bumps on them. And what was to be a sure thing, and I was gonna be “Lord of the Soap World”, just dissolved away. Great idea, I think it’s still a great idea. I think my soap is still better than anybody else’s soap but in the end, no one’s gonna pay you for it. Because there’s so many other ways of doing it. That’s what you have to be careful of. Right? You may have the killer idea, maybe a great product but in general, the mindset out there is no one wants to pay for anything. And I think the whole online culture of everything is free has exacerbated the difficulty with bringing a product to market. Now that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t but you got to be really, really careful about convincing yourself how brilliant your ideas. Now we’re getting all the way back to the ego thing. Right?
Rafael Testai 32:33
So I guess they went around your patent and provide a soap that’s similar, right?
Well, no, well, they didn’t, hey didn’t violate the patent. The patent and this is part of what the patent system is for by the way, they looked at it, they read the claims, I’m sure. They thought about the different functional requirements of what to be done, blah, blah, blah and they found out a way to get good enough without violating the patent. So I did the function of the patent , it was a good catalyst for them, I think.
Alexander Slocum 33:01
Right? So well, so in other words, if you have an idea, and you haven’t really invested that much money into it, and you made a few little ones, and it looks pretty good. And some big gorilla on the block says, you know, we are the giant company. Here’s 50 grand for your idea now go a kid ticket. Weeeeh!
Rafael Testai 33:25
So if you get to that point, again, where the big gorilla comes up to you, are you always going to sell it?
Alexander Slocum 33:32
Rafael Testai 33:33
Okay, at least we know how things work. Thank you.
Alexander Slocum 33:38
Here’s what happens and I’m sure you’ve had this happen, most creative people have this happen. You see something and you say that’s a really cool idea but I can do better. It’s part of you, the ego part of you, which is okay to have is to look at some things “Oh, I can do better”. That’s a good part, that’s an ego you’re allowed to have. Just keep it to yourself, right? Then work on stuff so the problem is you have a great product, but now you’re exposing it to all these really brilliant creative people who if they have to pay any amount of money for it over what they normally are buying and doing. They’ll want to come up with a better idea and companies hire those people to say here, here’s an idea, here’s the patents on it, figure out a better way for less .I see. So you seem like someone that gets a lot of stuff done every day like if I were to give 24 hours to someone and I give 24 hours to you. At the end of the day, I have a feeling that you will come back with more than what other people will come back with. So what advice would you give someone that wants to get more stuff done every day? In addition to the things you already mentioned before if there’s anything else. Learn how you think and study how you operate in where your ocamms razor is, so to speak. By that I mean I know that if I work on something, I kind of keep a running barometer of progress. And when I get stuck, and I, in other words, my productivity is going down, I leave it and I go do something else. Now, I’m rather ADHD++, so that’s really easy for me to do in general. But I also happened to be fairly CDO, CDO, what the hell is that? I think my brother first said this. No, no, it’s what normal people call OCD. But who the hell put the O before the C and the D, that’s not alphabetical order. So you got to move the O to the end. Right being, you know, OCD gotta have everything just right, perfect. So you can’t have things not alphabetical that you’re allowed to lap. So I can focus and work on something intently but then I keep a little timer in the back going, are you not making progress, *boop*, put it down go the next thing. And it’s like a time sharing in your computer, your computer is doing a lot of different processes and their priority interrupts for things. So you learn to what your operating system is and what your interests are, and how to make sure you’re never spinning your wheels or banging your head against the wall. So you can always be productive.
Rafael Testai 36:23
When you switch to the next topic, or exercise that you’re working on, let’s say that someone is studying in physics, when you reach that point where you start banging your head against the wall, and you’re not being so productive. Do you switch to something that’s completely different? Like, something has to do with coloring or email? Or can you go to maybe a different section of the physics book? What would you recommend?
Alexander Slocum 36:45
I let my passion drives me. I sometimes will work on the same flavor problem but I will a different angle of it. Or I say you know, I’m going to go work on the software part. Or you know what, I’m gonna take a walk when my doggies are now I have grandchildren, if they were around or whatever, I’ll leave my office and I’ll say, all right, attack and then And then change it, so you just have to learn who you are and be honest with yourself.
Rafael Testai 37:28
Okay, that’s a great answer.
Alexander Slocum 37:29
Don’t let anybody else guide you, don’t let anybody else tell you who you are. You have to tell you who you who you are.
Rafael Testai 37:35
I find that sometimes your brain is fried or fatigued from thinking so hard, and you need time to recover. Many people mindlessly scroll through social media or watch TV when this mental state arrives. I was gonna ask you, what are you doing when your brain feels fatigued? But you know, your inbox is full. And you have a ton of work left to do but I think you’re ready gonna give me, ask me, “You just switch tasks”. Is that right?
Alexander Slocum 38:01
Yeah. And sometimes you know, I need I need a scheduled period of brain sludge. So you know, I can, I will watch it. Watch some mind deadening show. We try to do it while we eat so we can double task because we know we got to eat. And you know, you need some brain dead time but you don’t want to be brain dead and then have to also take time to eat separate because that burns up more time in the day. So be more efficient. We all sometimes watch while eating TV, which I know is really stupid. You’re not supposed to do that. But that’s okay because we have a lot of personal time to get in the woods anyway. Okay, but I prefer a sports go for a run, bike ride, hike through the woods play with a dog. So if I’m going to be not mentally working, I generally find physical tasking. I’d love to split cutting split wood with it with a mall, not one of those hydraulic things. I like the old manual way. So that’s something completely different and reset the brain while giving you exercise.
Rafael Testai 39:04
This actually leads me to my next topic, you mentioned that we’re all in search of the fountain of youth. We all want to look younger, get younger, feel better not have injuries. I agree with that. And it’s well documented if you just search your name on the internet that you run triathlons, and you’re quite the athlete. So any golden nuggets you may have in terms of your fitness to avoid injuries and maybe nutrition wise.
Alexander Slocum 39:27
Yeah, okay. So when I was a young person, I was really into powerlifting and bodybuilding and stuff. This was back in the days when you don’t do aerobics stuff because that’ll take away you know from muscle mass. Yeah. Now of course people know better. But anyway, so, you know, I was a big strong fella, but then you know, I had kids and it wasn’t really exercising a lot and I started to shift mass got a quite a belly. And then. So in other words, I never was an aerobic person and then when I was 40, you know, when you’re 40, you have a med life change. And my doctor, she took her veterinary glove off and said, sir, you’re in a lot of world are hurt, and started writing prescriptions for, you know, my blood pressure on sugar, you know, blah, blah, blah, lower this lower that lower the other. And I did the research, and I said, that’s gonna lower the other thing, too. And she goes, “Oh, right”. So she goes, I’ll write your prescription for that, too, you know, little blue pill? And I’m like, this is a lot of drugs. And is there something else I could do? And she looked at me, and she must be part psychiatrists. She says, you can exercise and lose weight but no one ever really follows through with that. So you might as well just stick with the prescriptions is like, “Oh, I’m fighting words, right”. So I went and researched it and I found the reason people don’t stick with it is, you know, being you know, being a man, I know that I may be 40 but dammit, I’m still 16, I’m going to go out and exercise and run a marathon tomorrow and hurt myself. So that’s what usually people do is they dive into it too fast and too strong. And then they get injured, and then they give up. So the key is like compound interest. So I said, Okay, I’m going to start swimming because I was too heavy to run, you know, as walking a little bit and I did when I started 40. I could go across the pool and almost back study a total of what 50 yards and be I was out of breath. But what the key is, for a week you do what you can do comfortably in the next week, you try to add 10%. So I would go in, I’d swing my 50 yards and breathe for a few minutes, mix it and then go back and use. So I maybe would put in I don’t remember what it was a quarter mile total. And then over a period of I started losing some weight and I was doing more walking and then I started running a little bit. And then I still remember when I ran around where we live. It’s a three mile loop. I started where I would run to the beaver pond, which was three quarter mile and walk back was very proud of myself. And there was the hill to the right, that led to the three mile loop. So excited was like oh, I’m gonna lose my three mile virginity today. Dude, I’m so excited. You did. It hurt. It really did. But I did it. I lost my three mile virginity. I was so excited. Now I’m ready for a marathon. Yeah. And it took a while and then I ran my first marathon down on Kiawah Island. And actually I got into marathons because a buddy of mine, Peter Mughal stones, a really brilliant bearing designer. He’s really the parent of most of Thompson industries, their profile rail bearings. You know, another guy Greg Lyons, boy, he they’re smart. But anyway, Peter was also a marathoner, who you would actually win in his age group, about 10 miles or 10 years older than I am, and I were working professionally and he was learning what I was doing. And he’s well, I’ll help you out on training. And then he gave me a training program again, a little bit each week, add dial back, little bit more. And so just compound interest and took a year before I was ready to run my first marathon down in Kew Island. It was great. I think I was like, four hours and 40 minutes or 30 minutes and I couldn’t walk for days afterwards. It was awesome. And then you know, sometimes when you’re a little older, your your your partner will like bring home something to spice up your life. And I was swimming and running and I was like riding a bike. Anyway, Debbie comes home one day, she says hey, I bought you a magazine. And it’s really what is it? She goes like this out and it was like triathlon news or something like that. And like, really? She was Yeah, you did a marathon you should try a triathlon man because you’re doing the swimming and running stuff, man and biking. And I’m looking through this magazine right? And this thing called Iron Man. Well, I use a strong word I said what? Anyway on frequent urgent creative kicking, right? That’s for my martial arts part, right. Iron Man, huh? swim 2.4 miles. Yeah, I don’t know. Maybe. Bike 112 Yeah, love biking, run a marathon then in the end. Are you people crazy. And then Debbie says when you ran a marathon, you should try the Iron Man anyway. Not because she said it. I had to do it. You know. So that took a couple years. I did a half half iron first train real hard. followed the rule of 10% a week and I did it now. comment. I am not fast. I am just a diesel engine. I don’t do this to compete. I do To finish, and to have fun, so I won’t get hurt so I can keep doing it. That’s the key, my friend.
Rafael Testai 45:08
Right on moderation pace yourself. totally understand. So this seems like a good place for a quick pause to share with our listeners that test fixture design comm is where you can find and learn more about how we help medical device engineering teams who need turnkey custom test fixtures or automated equipment to assemble, inspect correct rice or perform verification or validation testing on their devices. We’re speaking with Alexander Slocum. So the next question is, I’m a big fan of residual income. Is it possible for mechanical design engineer to design something that creates residual income for them, the only thing that I can imagine is maybe creating a design for an invention and getting royalties, would that be the only way?
Alexander Slocum 45:53
No, that’s that that’s not the only way that’s a that’s a good, a good, a good intro, so to speak, this idea of residual income. So there’s a bunch of ways to do it, what it really means is you work hard at something, and then you can step away from it and the money keeps coming in. So you can do it in the context of your own profession by you’ve designed some really great Gizmo, and your company is selling a lot of them and you bought stock in your company, you can design some really great Gizmo, build it up by making testing, selling a few here and there and then launch your own company and sales. Or that’s not so residual, because you’ll work real hard at it for a while before you can sell it out. Or you can design something, get it going and then sell it to someone else. But that’s really, really hard. Very few companies will buy an idea from somebody, and then pay you a tag, you know, a royalty, that’s really hard to do licensing. because quite often the company will just say, Why should I continue to pay this person or pay them in the first place, I’ll just design around their patent. So that’s what you have to be very careful of. Because Because that and that does happen, happen a lot. So let’s stick with the you’ve started a company, and it’s your selling product, and then someone buys your company, or in the may or may not have a tail, but I would call that a residual. The other way is, you take your money you earn and you invest it not necessary in the stock market. But for example, there’s this really nice house or apartment or something. And then real estate, you know, because people always have to have a place to live. So you can you can follow the In other words, invest in product and the stuff that you’re familiar and good at inventing, you can invest in the stock market in general, or you can go into real estate, like, you know, you buy an apartment and you rent it out. Those are good ways.
Rafael Testai 47:53
I see, when we were spoiled before I asked you something, and you mentioned that tinkering was something that’s very important for mechanical engineering to do in their downtime. And I was gonna ask you, what are examples of good and useful tinkering versus perhaps not so useful tinkering. And I have to ask this because many listeners have never Tinker before, and we want to give them a clue as to whether they’re doing the right path with their tinkering.
Alexander Slocum 48:23
Okay, so I’m gonna tie this into the residual income thing to tinkering is you’re exploring things that are of interest to you, you’re taking apart something, you know, and all of us have stuff that breaks. And you should be always be thinking, particularly in your line of what your work is, how does that work? Even a toaster? You know, how does that mechanism work? take it apart, look at it. And so there’s the function of tinkering to learn. And if you have kids, it’s always good to take stuff apart with them and discuss each part and stuff. Okay. So that’s a form of tinkering is really good. The other form of tinkering is just fixing stuff around the house when it breaks instead of throwing it out, which we used to do a lot. And unfortunately, a lot of stuff you can’t do anything with. You have a lawn mower, and it dies. Yeah, you really, you know, because the blows a seal. Now it’s leaking oil everywhere. You can sure go ahead and try to fix that level of it. I used to do things like that. Now I won’t, but what I will do is I’ll take the wheels off the lawnmower and I’ll make a cart. So I have a little garden cart. Right and then there’s the tinkering mode. So that’s kind of we’re building up of everyone has something that annoys them, or something they wish they had. So you you make stuff for your own enjoyment. A new hat rack, right a piece of software to do something you want to have happen. You know, make your lights outside if you put up Christmas lights automatic Go on, anything like that. And those kind of things you start to think of is potentially if you like it, and you make a solution for it, someone else may like it. This gets back to not having an ego if you’re just like everyone else. The good thing is that when you solve a problem, assuming you got there first, everyone else will like your solution. And maybe you have a new product. So there’s tinkering for the, your own enjoyment and happiness enhancement, and potentially a new product or thinking that everyone else is gonna want that you could turn into a product or a company.
Rafael Testai 50:38
Amazing, that’s a really good answer and I found myself doing the right kind of tinkering, then I’ve done all the ones that you mentioned before. Alright, the next question is, what technical skill sets would I need if I want to generate income from my designs? And the more specific, the better?
Alexander Slocum 50:58
Okay, well, you know, it’s gonna depend upon what flavor designing you’re doing. There is a whole range of things, but we’re taking from the mode of the the massager, soap example, right? You need to understand ergonomics, more than anything else, the feel of things, what people like. So that’s the first level. And that’s the hardest thing to get is this whole emotional empathy ability. The next thing is, and the thing is like a massage or soap, you also have to understand mechanics. Now there’s two types of understanding of physics. And remember, physics starts with the letters p h, which is also the starting of the word philosophy. So when you look, remember how I described Pringles potato chips are curved. So the philosophy of the mechanics is a curved structure is stronger than a flat structure. So that enables me with just thinking about the philosophy of the physics to create a design without having to know any detailed mathematics. So I would say the first level is looking at what you’re designing, working, is come to understand what physics is involved in it. And then what is the philosophy of that physics. And in this textbook I wrote called fun, da mentals. It’s spelled fundamental, but I say the fundamentals of design people go go to sleep. But I would say it’s fun, Doc, mental fun, little mental, maybe a lot of mental. You look for the deep inner meaning of things in the philosophy and in that textbook, which is free online. Topic three fundamentals of mechanical design. You know, I go through things like Occam’s razor is st Rene’s principle Maxwell’s reciprocity, the discuss the philosophy what these things mean. And then Okay, here’s the math that goes with them. If you don’t understand the philosophy, you have no hope of applying the math. And often philosophy is all you need, like St. Bernays principle, you have a shaft supported by bearings, how far apart should the bearings B, they should be three to five shaft diameters apart, such that the bearings will have real good moment control of the shaft. I didn’t even have to do any math, I automatically know where to put my bearings. I can do the math and show who she is the optimal spacing.
Rafael Testai 53:41
That’s, that’s a great resource. I wanted to encourage all the listeners to go check out the fundamentals that he’s referring about. Once you see the way that he he capitalizes the fun and fundamentals, you’ll never be able to read the word fundamentals. Normally again, it’s gonna be in your brain from there moving forward. So let’s say that I have a novel novel idea for a product, I research it And surprisingly, no one has done this before I prototype it in my garage, it works, it solves a problem. I test the product with 20 niche customers, and they all say that they will be willing to buy it. In fact, they didn’t just say that they actually paid me ahead of time prior to production, because they loved the product so much and can’t wait to get their hands on it. So I collect all this money and now I need to build 20 of them. So I still have one prototype. And what do I do next? Where do I take this prototype and my constraints are that I don’t have 10 to $15,000 to pay for the injection molding and I don’t have the resources to run a Kickstarter campaign.
Alexander Slocum 54:43
Okay, you know the answer 10 years ago was probably a lot different than now. Now the first thing is you know, if a 3d print will be good enough for the strength then you then you 3d print them and you know you buy a 3d printer and you just never go up do you just you know go Have you otherwise you you, as a craft person, you manually make each one even if you have to carve it. And you do that, instead of watching TV, you know, and you get some friends together, and you do it the old fashioned way, you know, people used to make flintlocks by hand. And you do it too. So you deliver those 20. people bought it, they bought them. And they say, this is great. And now you start getting more orders, then you can do to do a Kickstarter campaign, or you go to the bank, and you say, look, here’s the sales I have, and you borrow money. Now, you also, it’s very important to make sure that you do a really careful patent search. And the way you do this is you got to go, not just do a patent search, but you got to go online and search. And like, oh, pick Google, but there’s a lot of different search engines, and you search and then you display images, and you search in you and you look at all the images on all n pages, make sure it doesn’t already exist, then you can also go do a patent search. And now if all that yield, yeah, you really do have something, then you, you got to be really careful, these patent agencies are loved to, you know, take 10 grand of your money and keep you on the string, you can prepare what is called a provisional application. Now, it’s really easy. And I think in my class website, we even give you a template to do that. But the provisional application is basically you should you draw it up as good as you can, you know, I your production drawings, and then you’re going to describe exactly what it is you have and what problem it solves. And if you’re not a serial inventor already, it’s I think it’s like 60 bucks or something to file, the uspto.gov we pay taxes, it’s a fantastic resource, it’s our government on their website has a lot of free information about this. And it’s really easy to file your own provisional, you do not need a lawyer at all. Now, that’s like a placeholder, you now have one year to file the utility application, which is the quote, real patent. But it gives you a year of protection. Now you can’t sue anybody until you have an issued patent but and you may get ripped off by someone here or there. But no big company is going to start making and selling something knowing that there’s a patent lurking because if they do, and then you do get a patent issued, well, you can’t sue them for anything before your patent issues. But then when he put all his money in developing a product, they’re not going to want to get sued for continuing forward. So that’s the strategy there. Now remember, just because you have a patent doesn’t mean you can build it, that’s not a license for you to build, it’s a license for you to exclude other people from building because you may actually infringe on someone else’s patent. This is why you got to do the search. And the other thing is, is don’t get too happy about thinking well, are they ever gonna sue somebody like the minimum cost to go to court blah, blah, blah, and actually follow through in a lawsuit is around a million bucks. Your chances of winning are at best 5050. This is statistics. It even if you win, it’s a big company, they were going to appeal the decision where you’re statistically your chances of winning young appeal or maybe 50%. So the odds are four to one against you that you would ever prevail in a lawsuit. So think of a patent this way. It’s a ability to exclude and it’s a license as you’re driving down the road at high speed with a lot of people chasing after you to throw nails and glass and oil in a live chickens and all kinds of stuff at the back of your pickup to get in their way. So you can Jenna has very visual description. Yeah. Don’t forget the chickens.
Rafael Testai 59:12
Okay, so provisional patents, we may want to look into that. If you want to develop your own ideas, you said that you want to seek to hem make from common materials and sell those and build up orders until you’re then willing to risk investing in the mold. So when you say this, I think about very rough prototypes that you said carving while you’re watching TV that maybe are not the most aesthetically pleasing, but they’re functional. So do you know of companies that have follow this model that you just proposed successfully and selling that first batch of materials kind of handmade, asked so perhaps we can have. We can research those companies and see what they did.
Alexander Slocum 59:54
I’m not a real good consumer product person. I do know that When I say handmade, it’s also includes people who put together machines, like early 3d printers. If you go to, and they were bought, but it’s called other mill. Other mill was an idea for a small tabletop milling machine, it came out of a, what’s called other lab in San Francisco. Good friend of mine, Dr. Saul Griffith runs that place. And he has a nice machine shop there. Nothing real fancy, you know, water jet cutter, a router, you know, basic manual machine tools and stuff. I think they’ve got maybe a laser cutter. Another is he has available to him for use all the time. But a lot of the there’s the hobby places that exist, you know, where anybody can join and then make stuff in. Right? Well, it’s always had this fantasy, which I guess a lot of people have heard desktop mill, particularly for like milling circuit boards, because he does a lot of electronics, prototyping and stuff. And a lot of people do, and it’s now now you can send out for board pretty cheap. But when he started, it’s a little more expensive, but you can buy the raw circuit board material and then mill out what you want, right and leave the traces. And then also other simple features. So anyway, solid, his buddies there, they decided to do this little mini mill tabletop, I’ve always been loved that idea. And make one of my own in the past. And they were started tinkering. And next step, it was people spot wanted, so they made more copies. But you know, again, all manually put together, more copies, and they decided, wow, you know, this could be a business. And that launched other mail, which later was bought by I don’t remember who was bought by but you can search other mail. Right? So there’s an example of a good one. Yeah.
Rafael Testai 1:01:59
All right. I’m almost embarrassed to ask this question, because it may seem a little naive. But I’m sure as somebody else also has this question if I have it. So although I’m going to risk looking stupid in front of a lot of people, that’s fine. I’m going to ask it anyways. So the question is, when there are if there are physics that you don’t understand in a product, could you talk to us a little bit about your process of trying to learn those physics, the more specific the better?
Alexander Slocum 1:02:28
No, that’s not an embarrassing question. That’s a great question. I often have that myself a lot. Right. And, and I may have known it when I was younger, but now I forgot it. So I got to go back and relearn it. So what I tried to do is just take a deep breath and say everything has a loop. Loop. Yeah, if you have a circuit, right, you have to have power and ground. And there’s a bunch of details in between. If you have a machine, you have what’s called a structural loop, where you’re pushing on the machine at one point, say with the tool, but it pushes against this is action reaction, the part and there’s a flow of forces between the tool and the part at the contact where you’re cutting, but also back through the machine, heat transfer fluids, anything you look at everything basically has a loop, or met or loops. And that’s what you’re looking for is to say, Okay, what is the loop and what’s going on in that loop, and just use carefully slowly dissect what’s going on. Now, if you’re not really skilled in the details of the that you may miss something like not realize that radiation is the dominant heat transfer mode here, not convection. Right, that means you’re ignorant, and because you’ve never seen it. So you miss something in the loop that actually is driving the behavior of the system. So this is where peer review comes in. I’m never shy about first looking carefully at it myself. And then I search online for what looks similar in terms of the loop or things and try to learn online myself first. And then I’ll ask friends for peer review of it. Right, and based on that peer review, sometimes, you know, dude, you got to take the impact loads. In fact, you mean here’s that, you know, and then we go down that path or, hey, you know, warning, Warning Warning, you know, you got you’re gonna have a galvanic corrosion going on here with even these two materials. That’s where peer review comes in. And then you once you get the key word from somebody, you know how to burrow and dig.
Rafael Testai 1:04:42
Sure, thanks. So we’ve, we’ve all had as a mechanical design engineers or engineers, we’ve had people approach us inventors with ideas that they want to change the world with their idea, they have it in a napkin, and they want to have 99% and maybe they’ll give you 1% or something like Because in their mind, the ideas, the most important thing. But really, it’s all about execution. We all know this, listen to a podcast. And I know you’re not a lawyer, but you’re very smart. And you’ve done this before. So by all the listeners, this is not legal advice, by all means. But if you decide that you want to move forward, maybe with a with an inventor, and you do a 50-50 partnership with them, what would be the name of the document that you will have to sign next, after the volver agreement, verbal agreements is reached?
Alexander Slocum 1:05:28
Well, the first thing you have to do is you have to have a simple non disclosure agreement where both sides are agreeing not to start blabbing what you’re doing to someone else. Okay. Right. And then. So that’s the first thing you want to have there to protect everybody. The second thing is you can you do a letter of intent, plain English, here is what we want to do, and how we are going to do it. Now you can go online, and that’s the letter of intent. Just everybody agrees what’s gonna happen, we think the next thing is, is an actual contract between two people for how they want to move forward, the letter of intent serves most of that purpose. After that, you got to really incorporate as a legal entity to move forward. And then now there’s a host of books on what letters of incorporation is an LLC, etc, etc. And most of that’s free online, you don’t need a lawyer to start it out. You do want to have a business lawyer. In the end, make sure for your particular state that all the proper documents are done. But this is not a, you know, $10,000 thing. This is a pretty straightforward exercise. And again, you can read about it online very nicely. Most states have a better business bureau or a small business administration, with they will help you for what you need to do.
Rafael Testai 1:07:03
Perfect. All right, Alex is there if there’s anything else that perhaps you want to add to or listeners, direct them towards a resource? Any last thoughts? And finally, how can people reach you.
Alexander Slocum 1:07:17
I just want people to be nice to each other. Remember that that being nice is most important thing you can do. Don’t spread rumors and false hoods, and stay away from hate, and fear. if for no other reason, it takes time away from you, having as much fun as you can, and being as productive as you can, right. So it’s just stupid to be consumed by that stuff because you’re not living then. And that’s really actually quite serious advice. Because you, you know, you speak and spend so much time on social media following these threads where, remember, social media will feed you things that you’re most responsive to. And the two things that humans are most responsive to our fear and hate. This is the survival instinct, and pornography. This is the reproductive instinct, and I’m serious in both of those. Very few of people follow threads of happy good things other than vacation spots, right? So just stay away from us as garbage on social media, other than just your immediate friend, focused on goodness and having fun and being nice watch Miracle on 34th Street until it sinks in. Right, you know, which is all about being nice. It’s totally non-religious. Let’s see, I tweet a bunch of poems where I’ve tried to get people to think about it, it”s @ahslocumb. If anybody’s interested my silly little poems, and I have a website ooseh.com, it’s pronounced ‘wusa’. And that means one over sadness equals happiness. Where again, I post little poems and thingies. You can see a couple of products that I did. They have not sold well. A lot of people have said they love him, and then they’ve gone off and made their own. knock me off. I have patents. You know what? That’s okay. If they’re making it and being happy. I’m very happy for them.
Rafael Testai 1:09:22
I see you have a ventilator project on that website.
Alexander Slocum 1:09:25
Yeah, we did this through my MIT work for the emergency ventilator, a lot of people working on that. We helped some folks actually bring those to market. I’m so happy none of them had been used that the medical profession and found out how to treat COVID you know, the various things they do. Because if you go on a ventilator, anybody’s ventilator, your chances of coming off are very poor in your long term damage is really high. It’s not that ventilators themselves are bad, but the process of ventilation is not something that people were designed for. Yeah. That’s about it and to get in touch with me, you know, you can try emailing me is email@example.com. I try to answer as many as I can like when I’m spinning. And if I don’t, please don’t get mad. You know, lots of squirrels to chase in this world.
Aaron Moncur 1:10:21
I’m Aaron Moncur, founder of pipeline design and engineering. If you liked what you heard today, please leave us a positive review. It really helps other people find the show. To learn how your engineering team can leverage our team’s expertise in developing turnkey custom test fixtures, automated equipment and product design, visit us at testfixturedesign.com Thanks for listening!
We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Being an Engineer Podcast.
Help us rank as the #1 engineering podcast on Apple and Spotify by leaving a review for us.
Find us under the category: mechanical engineering podcast on Apple Podcasts.
Being an Engineer podcast is a go-to resource and podcast for engineering students on Spotify, too.
Aaron Moncur and Rafael Testai love hearing from their listeners, so feel free to email us, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and subscribe on Apple Podcast and Spotify!
About Being An Engineer
The Being An Engineer podcast is brought to you by Pipeline Design & Engineering. Pipeline partners with medical & other device engineering teams who need turnkey equipment such as cycle test machines, custom test fixtures, automation equipment, assembly jigs, inspection stations and more. You can find us on the web at www.teampipeline.us.
You’ve read this far! Therefore, it’s time to turn your headphones up and listen now to this episode to learn all these. Don’t forget to tell your friends who might like this too!
Interviewed by Rafael Testai