I wanted to start a thread, perhaps a series of threads, if people find it interesting.The prompt: What was the best advice you received from a professor?
I received advice in 1958-9 from City College of New York professors that made such an impression on me that I included it in my recent book, "The Engineering is Easy/Memoir of a Project Manager":
"I still recall tips from some of my civil engineering professors. Professor Bernard Kaplan explained the merits of prior planning before commencing design, while Professor David Muss stressed the value of having an executive summary at the front of a report. Professor Donald Brandt showed how to criticize the action but not the person, when he'd say, "That's a way," to a student's flawed approach to a problem, before describing the proper approach. And Professor William Brotherton's response, "The better one," to the question, "Which officer salutes first when two officers of the same rank meet for the first time?" taught me that it's more important to be courteous than egotistical. While these tips were not directly part of the curriculum, remembering them eventually helped me become a better manager and leader."
Interesting discussions. In particular, I like to delve into the metamorphoses of the topic, Best Advice to something important – that we grow up hearing from our elders, teachers and well-wishers. It is the common sense of doing things. But is common sense really common? We got some glimpses of an answer from Prof. Hayden's uncommon sense or from Dr. Walesh's let's do it like we always did.
While describing some basic and fundamental hydraulic tools that lie in our backyard – in my piece, Common Sense Hydraulics I have attempted to see it from two perspectives. These two are: the commonest of the commons (borrowing the term from the elitist British; from the system of British Parliament, of the less dignified (?) House of Commons, compared to the elitist House of Lords) – and the educated common. The former – is like seeing water always flowing downslope finding the steepest gradient, or when one feels light dipping in water. These are everyone's intuitive common knowledge, but many do not understand why they happen – unless they become somewhat educated in aspects of them.
Things turn into educated common when we know the existence and importance of them as effective tools lying in our backyard. Examples of them are some established relations – like the basic hydraulic principles – of Chezy's and Bernoulli's, defining first-order solutions of hydraulics. I tried to argue in my piece that many of our hydraulic engineering problems can be addressed by using such educated common tools – before thinking of and embarking upon more elaborate methods. Only requirement is that one has to know when, where and how to use those tools.
------------------------------Dr. Dilip Barua, Ph.D, P.Eng, M. ASCEVancouver, BC, Canada------------------------------