2021 is coming to a close and many of us are looking for change. And my hope for you, dear readers, as you move into new roles, careers, or industries, is that you recognize your trauma on your way out.
When I arrived at my new job a little over a year ago, I was uncomfortable. Even though the toxic work environment of my last job was behind me, it had become my comfort zone. Operating outside of that system - in a more healthy, holistic way - was difficult for me to learn. I didn’t feel better starting a new job - at least, not right away.
At the time, I had no idea the amount of baggage I was carrying from that harmful work environment. Trauma from an unhealthy relationship - yes, even a work one - isn’t your fault. But healing from it is your responsibility. Here are my tips for you as you move into your new teams and workspaces:
- Let the muddy waters settle - give yourself some time and distance from your previous occupation.
- Rock bottom will teach you lessons that mountain tops never will - remember why you left and what caused it (a project, contract or coworker).
- Think about how you can avoid recreating that environment in the future, especially if you’re in a position to influence or control these situations at your new company.
The most clicked link from last week's issue (~12% of opens) was November's CT Scan of the Month, comparing two LEGO Minifigures. The Members' reading group has decided on our next book: How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand. Our first group conversation will kick off after Thanksgiving on 2021-12-03, so you have lots of time to pick up a copy and join in. Stewart will be joining the group's final disucssion.
Planning & Strategy.
- During the disruptions caused by COVID-19 in 2020, many countries shifted their procurement from China to India to fill gaps in the agribusiness supply chain. India soaked up much of the market until 2021 when the surge of the delta variant disrupted sourcing raw materials, transportation, and caused labor shortages. Now, agribusiness in India is worse than before the pandemic, and supply chain disruptions are cascading.
- The winds of change are rapidly approaching as corporations look to reduce their carbon footprint by rethinking their approach to travel. Business travel levels are low and will likely remain low until we can keep infection rates down reliably. Conferences are still mostly virtual or taking on a hybrid approach and many clients - as well as employees - are hesitant to return to face to face interactions. I wonder how much companies can step back their carbon footprints while keeping stakeholders satisfied.
- Rolls-Royce is set for their best month since the beginning of the pandemic, contracting with the U.S. Air Force to upgrade the B-52 bomber. And the roll of Rolls-Royce continues, as it announced a contract with the UK government building mini nuclear reactors that will power one million homes. These mini nuclear reactors are so compact (16 m by 4 m) they can be transported by truck and still provide 220 MW to 440 MW of power (equivalent to 150 onshore wind turbines).
Making & Manufacturing.
- YouTuber Joel Telling and actor Neil Patrick Harris have been collaborating on a really fun project 3D printing custom ornate picture frames. The antique style frames were printed in pieces over 87 days, then sanded, primed, painted, glued together, and meticulously finished to make true 3D printed masterpieces. Their work is an excellent example of how 3D printing isn’t as simple as it looks at first glance.
- My wife and I are huge fans of thrifting and upcycling in our spare time, so I was beyond thrilled to inform her that I can now combine her love of upcycling with my love for 3D printing with Forust - a company using sawdust and wood byproducts and turning trash into treasure. Their material can reproduce wood grains and even digitally reproduce rare, exotic, and endangered wood species.
- A product called Tether projects a grid of bright dots on the road to mark a safe distance between the cyclists and the cars around them, flashing a warning pattern when cars get too close. It can also collect location data about where drivers are unsafe and which roads have the safest routes for cyclists.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- Growing up in Florida, I always wondered who fixed the homes that get damaged each hurricane season. This article profiles the unseen work done by migrants who travel from location to location, rebuilding and repairing communities decimated by disaster - while also suffering through dangerous working conditions.
- The FDA suspended in-person inspections in March 2020 and while normal domestic operations are starting back up, the agency is *still* behind and international inspections are limited to situations deemed mission-critical. This has led to delays in approval for novel cancer drugs like Rolantis and injectable medications for cardiac therapy. Drug companies have pushed for more electronic forms of submission and remote or virtual inspections, which the FDA has allowed for the time being. However, there are risks inherent to virtual inspection and the full story may not come across on camera.
- The largest military contract ($5 M) for desktop printers was awarded to Matterhackers to deliver fully-deployable additive manufacturing systems for US Navy and Marine bases.
Distribution & Logistics.
- When Taiichi Ohno of Toyota developed the concept of just-in-time manufacturing, I doubt he imagined the hulk sized monkey wrench of COVID-19 hitting the system. Supply chains are struggling to eliminate bottlenecks like labor shortages, transportation logistics, and demand for more goods than services. If Ohno were here with us today, I don’t know what kinds of solutions he’d be able to offer, but Bloomberg suggests getting the pandemic under control, building out better logistics infrastructure, and developing better technology for digital transactions.
Inspection, Testing & Analysis.
- Deloitte’s manufacturing outlook for 2021 reveals the industry has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels. The production index is sitting at 105.7, as compared to 110 pre-pandemic. Total industrial capacity utilization is at 74.5%, as compared to 77% pre-pandemic and employment is still down by 543,000 jobs. Hot buzz words that start with “digital” are trending in this report, with calls for digital twins to virtually recreate products and for developing digital supply models to provide a real time view of what’s happening on the ground.
- An interesting idea for a pre-diagnostic COVID testing method: Just swab the patient’s smartphone screen and run a PCR test on that. “We show that 81.3–100% of individuals with high-viral-load SARS-CoV-2 nasopharyngeal-positive samples also test positive for PoST [Phone Screen Testing], suggesting this method is effective in identifying COVID-19 contagious individuals.” The best part? The test only costs between $2-3 and doesn’t require clinical-grade consumables and reagents.
- An interesting study that explains how sea levels will rise and retreat differently in different parts of the world. The Greenland ice sheet is so massive that it generates its own gravity, pulling the Atlantic Ocean toward it like someone tugging a blanket. Areas closer to the gravity source lose more of the blanket and sea levels go down; areas 1200 miles out and further don’t lose any blanket and the sea levels rise.
- At the intersection of sex work and the pandemic, new trends are emerging around rates and popularity. Despite restrictions on physical face to face interactions during the pandemic, AdultWork, the sex work platform used to gather data for this study, revealed that there was no substantial decline in the number of encounters from 2020 to 2021.
- Maybe it’s because I’m a millennial, but I’m of the opinion that the way someone organizes their desktop says a lot about them. I’m the type of engineer who keeps everything organized in neatly named folders - my boss on the other hand clutters his desktop with files like a haphazard Hannah Hoch collage. It turns out that yes, there is a subreddit for this: r/unixporn publishes screenshots of users’ computer desktops, displaying artistic styles from the 8-bit images of Pacman to the beautifully embellished full color schemes of sci-fi fandoms like Blade Runner.
Thanks as always to The Prepared’s Members for supporting The Prepared. Thanks also to my boss, Ross, for being instrumental in helping me overcome my traumas, for being patient, for being kind, and in doing so making me a better engineer.
All My Lasers, SJ
p.s. - Reminder that today - like every day - is a gift. Use it wisely.
p.p.s. - We care about inclusivity. Here’s what we’re doing about it.