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I've been working off and on again with the You Design It hoverbot project, well, actually projects. As a result of some private feedback I had received from a few people, I decided to create two separate hovering style robots for the project. The original design I had come up with will be the one used to detail most steps of the tutorial. It is a basic hovercraft, only more sci-fi in design. The second robot tutorial will be released completely separately upon completion (instead of in stages), but if you happen to see images in any tutorials not related to the initial hoverbot, this is where they are from.

Speaking of tutorials, I started one on mold building for plastic/rubber custom pieces. I have also added a link in the title bar (pssst, up there^) leading directly into the tutorials section. As I write up more I will continue to categorize each and add it to its section. I am currently waiting for my member page account for the Society of Robots website. Once I have my account information I will be duplicating any tutorials over there in an effort to help create an as complete as possible repository on all things robotic.

In other unrelated news, I am still working on my final term paper on Six Sigma for my Operations Management course. I have finished reading all my reference sources and pieced together note cards full of information I am hoping to use for the paper. One way or another, I imagine I will be completing the paper within the week. Depending on how happy I am with the finished product, I will likely ask my instructor for permission to post the paper here for all to read and enjoy. Alright, it is Six Sigma, so there will likely not be much to enjoy, but it should still be an interesting read given the oddity that is my mind.

Engineer or Artist

Some years ago a friend had explained an observation of his on a person's wealth and the car they drive. I had heard different points of view from people through out my life on cars and what they say about the people who drive them, ranging from a persons love for a classic car, to the status symbol a car can hold. While all the differing viewpoints people held over what another person drove, or didn't drive, never really concerned me much; what this particular friend shared I found to be both insightful and to hold quite true for most things, not just automobiles.

Persons of middle class, in the realm of economics, will generally drive a mid-priced car because it is what they can afford while providing some measure of reliability. In today's market that would equate to a Honda or Toyota I imagine. People who are new to money, or have had it "given to them", opt for higher end luxury cars or sports cars and the like. It is a status symbol, a means of showing what they have. The truly wealthy, the top 1 or 2%, those who have money and to who it is just a fact of life, tend to drive a mid-priced car; because they understand that a car just needs to be reliable and get them from point A to point B. Of course there are always exceptions to the rules.

In the years since that conversation I have begun seeing many aspects of people with the same underlying principle. What I like to term "Engineer or Artist". I do not use either title in their typical sense, but rather as a level of something, whether it is ability, intelligence, knowledge, strength, or anything else. Mathematics is a good example of these levels. Solve 17 = X^2 + 1. The average person (average in the arena of algebra) might take a few moments and spout out X=4 as the answer, using formulas and specifications remembered from years past. The engineer would write out the complete proof to show how the equation becomes X=4. The artist would answer, just as the average person, that X=4, because the answer has no need to be proven, they just know it is correct beyond any doubt.

When it comes to people as an example of this, I can think of no better measure than the difference between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. Edison was an engineer. Everything he did could be reproduced from his writings and drawing because he was very precise in his work. Tesla was an artist, decades later and we are still having a hard time understanding the work he did and the ideas he came up with. Even though we can not understand all that he did, there is no denying his brilliance in the field of electricity and wave forms.

Another example would be to go back to cars. If you asked an average person with no training or skill on the subject to draw you a car, you would likely get exactly what you expected. Perhaps a side view of the typical sedan car shape showing two wheels and a few side windows. Maybe a dog hanging its head out the window if the drawer was feeling overly ambitious. Ask an engineer in the field of auto-design to draw you a car and they will immediately sit at the drafting table with mechanical pencil, ruler, compass and spare sheet of paper for figuring out calculations on. After many hours they will return to you a meticulously crafted image of an automobile to exact scale, meeting whatever design specifications they had in their head, completely aerodynamic in nature, and likely easily reproducible from the ground up. Now ask an automobile artist, that person on the level of the Carroll Shelbys of the world, and on a napkin using a felt tip pen they will sketch out the future of automobiles. And it will take an army of engineers to figure out how to build it without that artist's help, but it will astound the world.

The difference between the three levels can be seen in all aspects of human ability and endeavor, and has a pattern of simple, complex, simple: the average person has only a normal understanding or ability in a given task and sees the easy solution, the engineer has received training or education on the subject and will find you the solution and the reason why, the artist has progressed beyond what training and education could supply either through natural ability or some other means and just knows the solution. For an artist something just clicks. It just is the way it is and they understand it all without having to rationalize it, or do the measurements, or even think about it.

Aside from providing a little insight into how I see things (and an excuse to break away from attempting to write a term paper on Six Sigma), my point is that for all things in life there are those who are average, those who are engineers, and those who are artists. The thing that makes each of us one or the other is deciding where our path lies; for in each person there is a field, a topic, a job, a dream that will just click with us. Something that we can see so clearly that it defies explanation. It is up to each of us to choose whether to ignore a field and stay average, train and be educated in a field to become an engineer, or to instead select the field that has selected us and in turn become an artist.