Recently, a relative who is a mechanical engineer visited me, and I gave him a tour of some of the lab facilities in my department. This was extremely interesting for both of us. He was amazed at the kinds of things we can do in these labs, and I was very interested in his comments about ways to improve the lab in some important ways. He had lots of excellent advice about ways to increase efficiency and decrease some unwanted side-effects related to operation of some of the machines.
This was both great and not-so-great because the things he proposed -- even simple things -- are probably impossible to do if we involve the university's facilities office. The facilities office here is inefficient, expensive, slow, and has mysterious ways of working that can produce negative results. Does anyone out there have a facilities department that is actually helpful, efficient, quick, and cost-effective?
There are so many things I wish I knew more about, and now mechanical engineering is high on the list. It's impossible to do everything yourself, though, and this incident with my visiting relative highlighted for me yet again how much you can learn if you spend time with people in other fields.
7 months ago