Think in pictures

I remember a discussion with a successful Engineer Solopreneur about his unusual method for determining the height of roads when he was doing the Civil designs. Instead of complex computer models, he used printed elevations, push pins and yarn. The simple method allowed him to replace days of small-screen computer modelling with a few hours of big-picture thinking and intuitive adjustments.

Written calculation save me from complex WordDoc formulas, but communicate the idea clearly

Written calculation save me from complex WordDoc formulas, but communicate the idea clearly

Thinking of that, when I needed to figure out how a tortilla could be shaped into a football on my first project, I didn’t make a model of a tortilla — I cut one out of paper and played with it. That paper model gave me confidence in the designs ability to shape, and saved me a lot of time spent in uncertain computer models.

Today I began work on my second job, and again I’m using paper, but this time to communicate. In past jobs I would have spent a few hours on the computer modeling or drawing designs so that I could communicate ideas, but I’ve decided to go back to low tech. Five minutes on paper can help me communicate the ideas I need to, and the black and white picture editing I described yesterday helps me make the photographed designs look right in documents, without the inherent shadows.

My (profitable) work today was to continue work on the first project, bringing it up to near completion, even with the additional requested work. Since my client wanted me to upload models for the 3D manufacturers, I first created a dummy email address, then created different accounts in each of the three 3D printing companies (Shapeways, Ponoko and Imaterialise). I’ve uploaded the files and communicated everything to my client; the ball is now in his court.

More pictures. This sketch took five minutes on paper, but would have required an hour on the computer

More pictures. This sketch took five minutes on paper, but would have required an hour on the computer

With my second client, I was asked to review an existing design of one part before beginning work on the design of an interfacing part. Everything is new. I’ve never done a design review, and it took me more than 50% more than my budgeted time. However, I now have a document with good flow and illustrating the more difficult to describe ideas. The review begins with thoughts on the design aesthetic, then details a review of each parts function that include questions and recommendations, where applicable. In the summary I restated the questions and recommendations so that my client has all of the actionable information in one place. I’m hoping it results in clear answers. We’ll find out tomorrow.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s