7-29-2010: New (uprighted) video loaded on "Nitty Gritty" :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

SciMath Career #8: Mechanical Engineer

Kevin Grigar is a very important man for our CORK operations. He's a mechanical engineer who helped design some of the key elements on the 3 CORKs we plan to install on this expedition. In the picture, he is fixing some wiring as another engineer looks on. After years in industry as a Mechanical Designer, he went back to school for Engineering to better his position and to encourage his kids to pursue higher degrees. Kevin uses math and science not only for his job but for his hobbies which include marksmanship and building things around the house.

Kevin is a master mental mathematician! As a student, he took a class called "Number Sense" that taught him how to solve several types of problems without writing anything down except the answer. To this day, he uses this very handy skill to design tools for temperature and pressure. He also does quite a bit of math by hand - geometry, algebra, and arithmatic....It's these basic skills that allows him to do very important back of the envelope calculations as well as draw up schematics to get his tools made by the manufacturers. Can you imagine where Kevin would be if he didn't know how how to use a mathematical formula? Eeek. Can't be pretty! So, what is Kevin's advice for us math novices? "Take as much math as you can!" Will do, gumshoe. You can never have too much math! Especially in engineering!

Much like the tool designers we've already met in this series, Kevin needs to be able to speak the scientific language in order to communicate with the scientists who need the tools he is making. He needs to understand the conditions for the experiment (the temperature, the pressure, even the types of metals he *can't* use like if he were building something that can't contaminate a microbiology sample.) Aside from all that, he needs to know his metallurgy, which deals with the strength of a metal and how easily it is to bend and break. Having the right material is important to every tool. You don't want to have a tool bending like an eraser or breaking like a pencil when you're trying to do your job. Kevin knows his science, though, so we rest easy knowing the tools he made for us are up to the challenge. Boy, are we glad he knows his stuff!

Kevin helped design the bottom part of our CORKs - you know, the part that actually goes into the borehole. That's him in the gray (second to the left). Since our expedition out here in the Pacific hinges on the success of these CORKs, we're really thankful Kevin is a master Mechanical Engineer. He has also designed some tools to measure pressure and temperature WHILE we are drilling out our core samples. Since we know so little about the sediment at the bottom of the ocean, it's very exciting to be able to see what conditions are like down there then be able to see the cores from the same area. SO awesome! Of course, none of this would be possible without the expertise of our Mechanical Engineer. And Kevin's job would not be possible without math and science! WooHoo! Go Math and Science!

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