Often, intellect is confused with knowledge. A great example of this confusion is shown in a Star Trek. In the movie, a top-level engineer of a starship is placed in the past to save the future. The engineer must use a computer of the early 1990s to solve a simple math equation. Due to the character’s advanced understanding of electronics, the audience is led to believe that the engineer will have no issue with the task. But, in fact, this was not the case. The engineer attempts to activate the computer technology as he would in his era. He sits down in front of the device and says, “Computer?” Of course, he gets no response. The scene proceeds with the engineer speaking into a mouse only to once again get no response from the PC. Finally, it become evident to the engineer that he needs to use a keyboard to enter his question and perform the desired action.
In our careers, where we can be faced with technology spanning hundreds of years, it can be important to have a working knowledge of both old and new technology. This may be particularly the case in aviation where there are flying machines from all time periods filling our skies. Aviation technology ranges from the less complicated, such as gliders, personal unmanned drones, or classic aircraft, through to the complex and multi-faceted, such as airframes with jet propulsion and state-of-the-art avionics. With each technological advance in the field of aviation, there has been an associated advance in the demand for improved knowledge to reduce the occurrences of accidents.
For the modern-day aviation engineer, who is often required to be a “jack-of-all-trades”, it may seem impossible to keep up with the constant changes and new knowledge requirements. Each aircraft manufacturer has their own way of making the concept of flying from point A to B a life-changing experience. Be it comfort, convenience, or speed, every aspect of flight can have an entirely different definition. Today’s engineers must be skilled in identifying knowledge gaps when they arise, but also knowledgeable in how to approach these gaps and identifying possible solutions. Here are some aids to help with closing these gaps:
Like aircraft, we need to perform preventative maintenance on ourselves and look for ripples in our knowledge. If you identify any knowledge gaps, identify training resources such as current manuals that may help resolve this gap. As new training material becomes available, familiarize yourself with the content. Even just being aware of its existence my help with future research and troubleshooting. Never be afraid to ask for help from someone with more experience and knowledge. They may have tips and techniques that are not in the manual. This is especially true for training on your assigned aircraft type. Finally, learn strategies and approaches that avoid the need to make a guess when performing a task. Because in aircraft engineering, a guess may cost someone their life.
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