Two Days of Mentoring

Two routes to get here, via Los Angeles or on secondaries, and two choices for the mode of transportation, flying or driving.

It’s five hours flying from Phoenix an hour away. That’s a 1/2 hour to the airport arriving 90 minutes early, a one hour flight, then an hour to get out of LAX and into the rental car in LA traffic and finally a one hour drive up and over the mountains to the north. Five hours plus the TSA and snaking through those lines.

Or, you can drive, mostly on I-10 as far as San Bernardino before swinging north onto the Pearblossom Highway. Or you can burn 7-8 (or 9) hours depending on photo opportunities, traffic on the secondaries and stop-for-cell-phone-conference delays, and enjoy the journey.

I took the last of these on this trip over by driving through parts of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts. It was just under 450 miles and not quite nine hours including a couple of long phone-call stops. It got a bit tedious at Victorville - boy, has that place grown - but I otherwise enjoyed the distractions along the way. Much more interesting than the Interstate. Pics in a future article here.

I’m looking forward to being behind the skunk, literally, for two days mentoring engineers. I’ve been here several time before and know the town, the company and the caliber of engineers. They’re good. And knowing a little of what they’re building, you’d want them that way. Real good.

“Mentoring” means it’ll be mostly mano-a-mano, watching what they do and making “there’s a better way” suggestions. That’s where my job gets hard.

In case you didn’t know, engineers are control freaks, often with egos and grudges of matching strength. Getting them to relax and be open to something different from what they’ve fudged together - often out of ignorance, hence their protectiveness - is the challenging part.

I expect to do more “human engineering”, a.k.a. manipulation of feelings and attitudes, rather than demonstrating much computer expertise.

“Can I show you something that might be useful for this that will also help in the future if you’re working on something else, maybe for a different company?”

Appeal to the human, to the individual, not just to the current assignment. These folks shift around depending on contracts. It’s very competitive, very insecure, and that human being inside the engineer will often silence the ego to hear about, and learn, something that might be important to their (personal) future.

My first day will be on the MILS system, second on 653, with different engineers. (Think security and avionics, respectively, when you Google those two terms one at a time.) We will start with a group, set expectations and then divy up the hours in the day for the one-on-one time.

Dawn approaches. Time for breakfast. See ya!

Related: Curiosity Ctrl + Alt + Delete Into the Clouds Not Prepared Poor Sod!
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