Tom Wilke | How Engineers Can Succeed by Broadening Their Knowledge Base

 In Being an Engineer Podcast

Who is Tom Wilke?

Like many engineers, Tom Wilke spent his youth taking things apart and putting them back together. Engineering was a natural fit for him. As he progressed in his career, Tom began learning that he had another skill set that wasn’t as common for engineers: sincerity. He has built many engineering teams and bring dozens of successful products to the market because of his sincerity.

Tom also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado Boulder. There, he encourages his students to learn more than just what is taught in class. He shares with us a trend in education where students are more prepared now than ever. This holds true for software and programming skills.


people, engineers, engineering, data, design, engineer, company, products, understanding, storage, manufacturing, project, team, processes, thought, magnetic, drive, optical, working, important
Aaron Moncur, Presenter, Tom Wilke

Presenter 00:00
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.

Tom Wilke 00:17
It’s not good enough for you to do your part on a project and the project failed. You have to go beyond that. If you see the project failing, and you see why it’s failing, or you’re told by the project manager or whoever else that is failing because of this particular area, it’s step up and do something.

Aaron Moncur 00:49
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Being an Engineer Podcast. Our guest today is Tom Wilke, who is a Product Development Professional and has worked both in startups and billion-dollar corporations to bring new products to market. In fact, over the years, he has brought over 25 significant new products to market, an impressive feat indeed. Tom, welcome to the show.

Tom Wilke 01:13
Thank you, Aaron.

Aaron Moncur 01:15
Tell me how did you get started in engineering? What was it that was attractive to you about engineering?

Tom Wilke 01:22
I am always interested in taking things apart and putting them back together and fixing things. Ever since I was little my, my grandpa had a had a blacksmith business back in the 20s. And he lived on a farm a rural farm out in Northern Wisconsin. And he was known as the guy who can fix anything. And when I was little he died when I was quite young. But he used to crack the the blower on his heart where he would do metalworking. And he was rumored to be able to drive drives apps, among other things. Wow. So he was incredibly talented fellow was able to do anything. And I was around that when I was little. And my father like to work on cars, and I like to work on bicycles. I was always doing things mechanically in the backyard or my father or whatever, farm. And as I got older, I found that I was good at Math. I enjoyed Science. And so it’s a natural steering that the high school counselors would tell you, hey, like to do this stuff. And you’re good enough science, you want to go into engineering. My father was not the first generation of college educated people in my family. My father was not college educated, but he had a good job and, and worked himself up to a responsible position at a paper company. And my mother was also very competent and hardworking person and so inherited that hard working field. But I didn’t know anything about engineering, other than what my father would tell me about the engineer. He worked with the paper mill. But I was steered in that direction. And I found as soon as I got to college, that it was a good fit for me. And I really enjoyed it.

Aaron Moncur 03:10
Terrific. And what were your parents always very supportive of you going to college and pursuing a degree in engineering?

Tom Wilke 03:20
Yeah, absolutely. My expectation was, I have one brother, who’s two years older, and the expectation always was that we were bright kids, we were going to go to college. So my parents were, were of that mindset that they saw college as the stepping stone to the next level of not only material wealth, but to your contributions to society. And stewardess supported us in that direction once they steered us in that direction, but supported us for whatever we decided to do.

Aaron Moncur 03:52
Wonderful, wonderful. I’m going to have a couple of questions for you about education later on. But before we get to that, you worked at a company called Iomega in the early 2000s, developing removable magnetic and optical data storage products. I wonder, can you tell us a little bit more about that what what are magnetic and optical data storage products?

Tom Wilke 04:14
My natco data storage is what you put your data on, right. So the disk drives, tape drives, optical storage devices, CDs, DVDs, blu ray disc, those are physical embodiments of digital data storage. And so I got involved in data storage, so maybe in the late 80s or so. Working on optical data storage back before CDs were were the norm to record. CDs came out were invented around 1982 or so by Philips and became the standard for for music in the 80s and became ubiquitous eventually. That data storage is one type of data storage. Magnetic data storage was the competitor to that. And so they get it a magnetic data storage, which is how you save store, data on disk drives and tape drives was much older. And optical data storage was viewed as it’s going to be the next thing, eventually all data stores are going to be optical. That was the thought, because the data densities were much higher. When up, the story became calm, as in CDs, and I worked on optical data storage, actually was admitted he started working on that. And it was due to be likely to completely replace magnetic data storage within 20 years or so. Well, we all know now that it hasn’t happened, they each found their niche, magnetic data storage became so advanced from a physical standpoint, the data densities, and the interest rates, and the data reliability became so normal, the data of magnetic magnetic data stores is still today, this drives are the norm for storing large amounts of magnetic tape is still around. But it’s been displaced to a large degree. Optical data storage never really got a big niche, except for an audio and video recording, as I mentioned, in CDs, and DVDs and blu ray disc, those are optical data storage devices. But other than that niche, optical data storage never really made it for general purpose.

Aaron Moncur 06:31
I was going to say that these days, all not all, but much of data storage has moved to the cloud. But that’s not even really an accurate statement. Because ultimately, the cloud is a bunch of magnetic data storage units, right?

Tom Wilke 06:43
That’s right, it’s a bunch of servers sitting in some location at Google or Amazon owns, where their database huge numbers of destroys typically. And another thing that go ahead I’m sorry to interrupt but one other thing that displaced a lot of data sorted out solid state solid state memory. So solid state is now taking large parts of the data storage market, especially those that were taken up by some of the things I worked on back in the 80s and 90s namely, Flexible Media, Iomega was seen as zip drive back in the day. And that data source type was on a flexible lips like a floppy disk. That’s almost completely gone these days.

Aaron Moncur 07:23
After after Iomega you went on to participate in a startup called InPhase Technologies where again you focused on developing optical data storage products, but what were the differences between Iomega and InPhase Technologies?

Tom Wilke 07:37
InPhase was trying to store data holographically which leads to a much higher data density. So with holographic data storage, you can store data three dimensional so you can take this that’s 75 millimeters thick and and cram a bunch more data because you can use only the surface as is used in conventional magnetic and an optical data storage because you can use features below the surface this just

Aaron Moncur 08:09
Got it, okay. A little bit later in your career now now working at the medical device company Covidien you developed a new advanced manufacturing engineering function to transfer new products from from design centers in the US and Ireland, I guess two sites in Mexico, Ireland and the Far East. I was curious about what that process is, could you could you speak a little bit about that.

Tom Wilke 08:34
In a multinational company, they have multiple locations. Typically, manufacturing is centered in locations where they have some advantage costs from a labor standpoint, Mexico technology advantage from infrastructure Tyrone, other places in the world in the Far East. So, the typical process, step which is common in any multi national company is a design center will design a product, and then it will be transferred from that design center to a manufacturing location. The transfer for a medical product is a little more complicated because of the medical regulations. The compliance, complying with good manufacturing processes and FDA requirements dictate that there’s a lot of additional work that has to be done to transfer. And the group that we established was to embed engineers who were familiar with the design aspects and the manufacturing aspects so that we could get a jump on getting the product from the design center to the manufacturing center as quickly as possible so we can bring it to the customer as quickly as possible.

Aaron Moncur 09:46
And how did you find engineers that had both of those those skill sets because typically, you have a design engineer who doesn’t really focus on manufacturing and then you might have a manufacturing engineer who doesn’t really focus on these Like, how did you find the individuals that had both of those skill sets?

Tom Wilke 10:04
Yeah, that’s a specialized skill set. And just to give you a little my background, so I, like my first job out of college was with Honeywell, and they had a program called the Manufacturing Management Program. And being an engineer who was very interested in building things, I’ve always been interested in building things. As I mentioned earlier, since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a manufacturer, I wanted to be a manufacturing engineer. And so I enrolled in this program called Honeywell, where they trained us a lot of things about the complete company, the training program was a very well known program that was started by General Electric, used before still in existence, where you are expected to rotate to different assignments and within a company, and also go to graduate school. As a result of rotating to different assignments, I got exposure to design engineering animation. So I had that expertise. From my train of thought of Honeywell. That was fairly unusual, I found most people, most engineers do the design engineering as the elite side of the engineering picture. manufacturing engineers are usually found out and I viewed it as the opposite. I do the…

Aaron Moncur 11:13
The right-headed stepchild.

Tom Wilke 11:14
Yeah, that’s right. I always used manufacturing engineering as the elite. We were the guys who knew how to not only make this stuff, the designs, right? But we know how to build this stuff, too. So I was in a different mindset. And I found other engineers who did as well. So typically, is required that somebody will have spent time in manufacturing, and engineering to be good at that, in that role had to have spent some time in manufacturing. And so usually, I would I would look for when hiring people who enrolled, I will tell you it was heavier on the manufacturing side than the design time because I thought anybody can learn design, manufacturing.

Aaron Moncur 11:54
And did you find that that was the case that learning manufacturing was more challenging?

Tom Wilke 12:02
And that was a good attitude to have? Because we were often in the role of telling the design guys that, ‘No, no, you can’t design it that way, because it will drive the yield into the tank or drive the cost through the roof, or both, and so you have to redesign.’ So convincing the design engineers took a lot of talent took a lot of not only skill with understanding what the manufacturing side was, but also understanding what the design possibilities were.

Aaron Moncur 12:30
In that, that program management role you you facilitated bringing 15 new products to market into division that apparently had not recently brought any new products to market. That’s a really impressive feat. And can you share a little bit about how you’re able to push out so many new products during that time?

Tom Wilke 12:50
Couple of things. One is diligence. One was putting together a project team and one was getting the backing of a corporation that we have to do this. So part of it was necessity, the corporation realized that we haven’t come up with new products, our competitors were beating us in the marketplace, we just had to do this. So anytime I ran up against a brick wall in whatever area it was, I could use that as as the club to say, Okay, if you want to block this product, you will, you will cause this company to go continue to flounder, and we were not floundering. But we weren’t growing at the rate we wanted to. And we were beating beaten by competitors and coming out with products that were new or better and better features lower cost, and we did. So it was a necessity. And then a bigger part of it was putting in place the processes and the people that would get us there. So as I mentioned, we’ve established a program management office, whose job was to put in place the discipline to really get these products to market. And we put in place the mindset and processes to help the other divisions in the company, other departments in the company, do their part to bring this product to market.

Aaron Moncur 13:58
I imagine these were fairly large, complex processes. But is there any way that you can distill some of them down to the key components and share with us what some of those components were in the hopes that listeners can take those key elements and apply them to their own companies their own product development programs?

Tom Wilke 14:20
That’s a very good question. I don’t know that I can give you a good answer. I’ll give you a couple of things that are top of mind to me. One of the one of the one of the prime lessons as part of what Astrid mentioned in her talk with you is to make sure you have a project team that is pulling in the same direction. And we did that by establishing teams that were very definite, that not answering to the project manager, not necessarily from an organizational standpoint, but from an accountability standpoint. So making sure that every organization had a had a person or maybe more than one person who was assigned to the project whose responsibility was to get this job done. They may have other assignments as well. But when they were assigned to a project, their future was dependent upon this product becoming successful. That was one of the big things. Another big thing was making sure we had the processes in place, so people know what to expect. And the proper amount of reviews and oversight, part of the medical business is required to have independent reviewers. So assuring that we had an independent reviewer who was going to make a contribution. And not just me, a fly on the wall was an important part of this of training the independent reviewers, so that they could actually do something, and contribute to the project, and not be a hindrance, but be a help to the body. That was another big piece of the puzzle. And then the final piece of the puzzle I’ll mention right now was making sure if people understood the regulations part of it, what was required from a regulatory standpoint, so it wasn’t okay for the engineer to assume the regulatory team member would take care of everything for them, they had to be actively participating in the regulatory thesis for in the custom input thesis, or whatever that was outside of their, their boundaries. I always told people, my project managers included, I did not want you to assume that your responsibilities ended at the end of your organizational chart box. I don’t want anybody to assume that just because your responsibility is shown to be displayed in an organizational chart does not mean that you cannot help somebody in some other area. And in fact, I was always willing to help anybody in any area. And would would be very wise to develop the expertise that I have to to contribute themselves.

Aaron Moncur 16:46
And how did you help people do that? Because it’s one thing to say, ‘Okay, team, I want to make sure that you help the entire organization, not just your little box,’ but how do you help people or motivate people to actually do that?

Tom Wilke 16:59
Yeah, motivation, I think is the key. My expectation is that any trained engineer can do just about anything. And so there’s no limitation on what an engineer can be trained to do, if that engineer decides, is properly motivated to do that. And so a lot of it was about motivation, a lot of what that was about giving the team the common trigger that just because you’re successful, doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful professionally, if the team is not successful, is not good enough for you to do your part on a project and a project fail. You have to go beyond that. If you see the product failing, and you see why it’s failing. Or you’re, you’re told by your project manager, or whoever else that is failing because of this particular area, step up and do something. And he says, I know you can’t, I know you’re able to.

Aaron Moncur 17:52
That’s, I love that attitud. Did you find, or what tools did you find that that allowed you to impose that motivation? Did it just come down to money? Or I know that money is not the best motivator? Certainly not for everyone. What what what did you find was effective at motivating people

Tom Wilke 18:17
You make, a lot of it is altruism. A lot of it is the belief that we are doing something that is better for mankind. And many people, not everybody, but most people that are in the medical business are there because any want to make a contribution that is for the betterment of the common population. And so that was a that was a good motivator to fall back on that, hey, don’t you want to help your grandmother, or a pregnant woman or something, something else to make this successful, because it’s going to be better for whatever the the altruistic part of you says you want to make better in the world. That was a big part of it. He also mentioned money, money is also an important one. And I pushed for it and was unsuccessful getting direct control over the the contributors from other departments can have as program management office, but we were not directly in control of anybody so so I pushed for getting more control on that. So we did get to the point where we were inputting to their performance reviews, that we were not directly contributing to their salary. But we did establish in some cases, bonuses for meeting certain milestones that would be shared among the team or, or some payout at the end of a project.

Aaron Moncur 19:40
Interesting, thank you for sharing that. I’m going to take just a quick break here and share with the listeners that test is where you can learn more about how we help medical device engineering teams who need turnkey custom test fixtures or automated equipment. To assemble, inspect, characterize or perform verification or validation testing on their devices. We’re speaking with Tom Wilke today. And something Tom that I saw on your LinkedIn profile that I thought was really interesting was, you said that you’re, you’re known for your sincerity. And I wondered, can you elaborate a little bit on how that has helped you work with engineering teams over the years?

Tom Wilke 20:21
Yeah. So that’s something I didn’t discover until later in life that people took me seriously. And I don’t know why that is exactly. But I like to joke around and I like to get to know people. I’m a pretty serious guy generally. And so that comes across, I realized that that came across to most people in my performance reviews, most the time that we get something to the effect of, if people take you seriously. So that is a personality trait I think I lucked into. And then I learned to exploit it, maybe to some degree. And I learned and it’s important to me to feel like I’m doing something I’m sincerely, I sincerely have the desire to make the world a better place. And that came up very early in my career, when I was working at Honeywell, was working in a computer business. And I went to my manager, named john Kowalski, he was a mechanical engineering manager. And I said, I don’t feel like we’re designing computers. And I don’t feel like I’m making enough of a contribution to society. But he said to me, something that stuck with me, he said, ‘Okay, I get that, here’s how I look at it, you’re designing a computer that some cancer researcher is going to use to combine this campaign data, and he’s gonna get better results because of your contribution to this computer.’ I hope that as ‘Okay, it wasn’t quite satisfying enough.’ And eventually, I had to move into the medical business, because I felt like I could make more direct contribution. But everybody, every engineer, does make a contribution that helps society at large. And getting engineers to realize that, I think is especially difficult for a lot of engineers. And I sincerely believe that and when I when I say that to somebody, people don’t blow me off. Like, they believe what I say.

Aaron Moncur 22:12
Well, I agree 100%. In my opinion, engineers are what make the world go around. We are the problem solvers that allow for all the functions that general society has come to, to rely on these days.

Tom Wilke 22:26
Absolutely. And I tell people, somebody designed that ambulance that took the guy to the hospital in London Bridge that the ambulance drove over. And those are all engineers.

Aaron Moncur 22:36
Right? Right. But you’ve managed quite a few engineering teams over the years. And we’ve talked a little bit about this indirectly. I’ll just ask you very directly. Now, what are there some tools and strategies that you can share with us that have allowed you to be an effective engineering manager, I guess was one of them is just being sincere. You also talked about finding the right motivation. Anything else that comes to mind?

Tom Wilke 23:02
Confidence. One liners, confidence and competence. Both are quite important. So if you want to lead a team, you have to demonstrate an engineering case engineers, typically pretty skeptical people, right? You’re taught to you this question. Now provement for this, and I’m a skeptical person by nature. So that came to me very easily. Plus, in order to lead a team, it was important for me to demonstrate that I had some competence in the area. Now getting back to my point about an engineer can learn anything, I felt like I could learn about many topics that I could competently, converse with somebody about a topic such that I could get that respect. And so for me, it was it was all about building respect. And giving the person I was dealing with the idea that I not only respected their ability to contribute, but I respected it because I understood, therefore, that he would respect me to some degree. So that was a big part of my strategy. And in being a good manager was demonstrate that I really cared about what they were doing, because I took the time to learn it, or I took the time to delve into the weeds to somebody to some degree. Now, the downside there is a lot of engineers will say, No, you’re, you’re second guessing me or you’re micromanaging me. So that was a tendency had to fight. It’s an important thing, to make sure that the people who are working for you realize that you really do want them to do their job. And from my standpoint, I was always about leveraging. I thought that even if I even if I was the best engineer, which most engineers have a decent ego and they feel like they’re pretty good at doing the thing that they know about. Even if I was the best engineer on the program, didn’t mean that I could maximize my output. By doing that part of the engineering task. I could maximize my output by getting somebody else to do it by leveraging my understanding of the situation to get somebody else to do it well, and I could tell them to do it well, because engineers are given pretty common basis. I always talked about engineers as being the most easiest to argue. Because you never have a common understanding of how you go about seeking the truth and understanding that getting it the best answer?

Aaron Moncur 25:31
Can you think of a team or a program where development went particularly smoothly? And share with us what you think it was about that project or that team that allowed things to advance so well.

Tom Wilke 25:45
Yeah, I’ll give you a lot of examples come to mind. But the one I’ll give you is one that I worked on it iomega, where we were working with a Japanese company. And we are working on a destroyed a new technology. And we have partnered with a Japanese company, where they put the design how we were to do the electronics and servo part of it. And they were to do the mechanics, and we will do the system integration. And we spent a lot of time on team building on it, when we established that project, we resent a team of us around the world to find a company to work with us. We went to properties in Thailand, and Hong Kong and Taiwan, and Japan, which was the primary places were deciding. And we picked a company that we thought had cultural similarities in the company. And then we spent a lot of time on building the team. And the result of that was it was a very high payoff in terms of being able to get through the difficulties that were demanded logistical project, product we were designing. So a lot of that was about selecting the right partner, in terms of company, and then once you did that, getting the team in place in the right positions and understanding their division of labor and the expectations in a way that everybody could sign up to get the job done.

Aaron Moncur 27:12
That’s great. Do you remember, were there any specific things that you did to build that team to build the cohesiveness within the team?

Tom Wilke 27:21
Yeah, a lot of it was about being face to face meeting, which always this thing, not face to face. So one of the things that is really important now is, is to get better at these kinds of meetings I used two years ago, I establish the thing I call my communication scale. And on that communication skill, where 10 was a fib, base meeting, and one was email, and you try to characterize all communication within that scale, this meeting I rated at a five is only half as good as face to face meeting. And it was five times that of meeting. Now, I decided we have to get better at this. So we have to be able to improve our ability to communicate using this. When we’re UI are using right now video conferencing and video conferencing has gotten a lot better than it was 20 years ago, obviously. So the getting back to your question, we we developed this team, right? The teamwork by having face to face meeting, we brought their six or seven engineers to to Colorado to meet with us, we pursue at a time. And we did likewise go there to somebody for a week or two in the title space over the period of a year and a half or so when the striving to get from beginning to end. That was instrumental and in getting the teamwork developed, not only because we critique each other and work with them face to face. But we can also do things outside of the meeting easily to get to know them a little bit, and try to understand what motivated them.

Aaron Moncur 28:57
Excellent, excellent. All right, this this next question I’m excited about because I’ve never asked this question before. So I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say about this. What are a few of the best questions that you have asked in your career that have led to successful projects.

Tom Wilke 29:18
This question, why are you doing this project? Why are you interested in doing this project? Trying to understand the motivations. The question is to get at ‘What’s your reason for being here? Part of this interview is about why did I become an engineer? So I think those are a good question. That’s a good starting point, trying to understand the motivation of the person you’re dealing with. Why? Why are you doing this? I think that’s one of the best questions then. The next question is one about how people think about things. My classic interview question that I use many, many times, maybe 100 times or more on interviewing people was to set up Have an intersection with a traffic light. And I personally would ask the interviewee whether you their driver, driver’s license, anybody has a driver’s license has gone through an intersection. So then I will ask them to optimize that intersection. And I would listen for how they thought through the process. What were the things? What were the questions, they asked, what were the assumptions they made? And then what how would they attack the problem? So understanding how someone would attack the problem, that was one of the best questions one can do to understand whether your team member or team in general is able to do what you want them to do.

Aaron Moncur 30:35
That’s fascinating. So you had this intersection, just any old intersection out on the street? And you ask them to optimize it? What does that mean, optimize it, like for the flow of traffic, the maximize the number of cars that can get through that in any given time period?

Tom Wilke 30:49
I drew a little picture. And I said, here’s this, here’s a major intersection. And the houses, the residential areas located a mile in this direction, and the factory is located a mile in that direction. and your job is to figure out how to get the people from here to there, and have them be satisfied with their commute.

Aaron Moncur 31:09
Oh, that’s great. I might steal that one. It’s fun to watch someone think through in an interview.

Tom Wilke 31:17
It was very fun, because almost nobody had ever thought of that before. And some engineers had their engineer says, ‘Oh, yeah, I agree about how I can make this better.’ People had not really thought about it much. And I got a whole range of answers. But what I did get into how to solve a problem.

Aaron Moncur 31:38
Yeah, yeah. Currently, you’re the president at Positivity Engineering in Boulder, Colorado, is that your company?

Tom Wilke 31:46
That’s my company. And it’s a consulting company, where we mostly do advising to small and medium companies about how they should set up their business or their processes or whatever.

Aaron Moncur 31:59
And this is for predominantly product development companies, manufacturing companies, or just generally businesses?

Tom Wilke 32:07
Generally businesses, but it mostly is companies who sell products, there’s nothing particular.

Aaron Moncur 32:12

Tom Wilke 32:12
Sometimes we consult with companies who are just looking at investment banking, investment bankers are looking at doing investment in the company.

Aaron Moncur 32:21

Tom Wilke 32:22
It’s pretty broad

Aaron Moncur 32:23
Because you’re an engineer, you can learn to advise anyone, right? I think I can. Yeah. Okay. In parallel with positivity engineering, you also work as an Adjunct Faculty Instructor at the University of Colorado Boulder. What, what trends are you seeing in engineering education these days? And what do you think is still missing?

Tom Wilke 32:47
One of the trends I’m seeing is that engineers, they have increased capabilities, specifically mechanical engineering. So I teach a Senior Level Mechanical Design course. And what I see today is that mechanical engineers are starting to do some of the things that I had to learn to do after I got out of engineering. And this specifically, I’m thinking about electronics and software. So typically, now, any device that a mechanical engineer is going to design will have some electronics and some software. And it’s important for mechanical engineers to become broader to know enough about those areas that they can understand at least what needs to be done. And when, when they need to call in help or when they can do something on their own. So I’m saying that it’s very common for high school students now to have written some software, but I was isolated my days. But it’s almost ubiquitous now. People have, it’s important for engineers to have a broader background. And I’m seeing that trend. I’m, I always encourage students to take it to the next step, become better at understanding understand, what does it mean to hook up a server, your rotary actuators to a Raspberry Pi system? How do you do this? And how are you going to make it work? And that’s what needed a little broader understanding of what the complete picture is gonna look like when, when your devices done?

Aaron Moncur 34:15
What are a couple of the biggest problems that you face at work these days?

Tom Wilke 34:21
The biggest problem we face as a society, a little less of an engineering, but some degree in engineering too is understanding how to get at the fundamental facts. How do you determine the truth of what you’re trying to decide? And we see that in society broadly and generally in politics in generally coming up with a common set of information that one will be willing to accept his heart. And that is the thing that engineers are usually pretty good at and we are trained to get to know to only deal with the facts only deal with The truth, always seek the truth. But that is something that in society is much harder and social media has made that harder. Social media made it easy to find something that will support any, any belief you have. So if you believe that climate science isn’t light, you can find some tidbits that will support that. I mean, any, any ridiculous thing, find support for that. In high school or college, you couldn’t find anything that would support your, these things that were not true. So we’re here to determine the truth. So now, what I tell my students is that it is incumbent upon your generation, to figure out how to sort through the new information, the new ways that we get, we can assimilate information I used to be when I was in college, you can get information by talking to somebody, or by reading a book that was about it. If you’re watching TV a little bit, today, there are so many sources of information that it’s very difficult to, we’ve evolved to be able to I can look you in the eye and I can make a guess, or whether you’re telling me the truth or not. But I can’t look at Facebook and and do that. Right. So right when way you consume information now is way different than it was when I was younger, and figuring out how to, to take that information, get the information that will allow you to make good decisions about engineering designs, or about how this particular thing that you’re working on will improve society. There was 100.

Aaron Moncur 36:35
Interesting, that’s that’s great insight. Well, Tom, I don’t want to take up too much your time, so I’ll let you go. But before I do, how can people get a hold of you?

Tom Wilke 36:46
Yeah, so my email addresses is wilke.toma, If you’d hold me there. Also, I’m on LinkedIn. So I respond to any requests that I get.

Aaron Moncur 37:00
Terrific. Well, thank you again, so much for for sharing some time with us and sharing your background and a little bit of engineering wisdom along the way.

Tom Wilke 37:08
Thanks for your interview. Appreciate the time with you.

Aaron Moncur 37:15
I’m Aaron Moncur, founder of Pipeline Design & 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 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

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