Haven’t updated this in quite a while. I took a job with Toda Racing in Okayama, Japan. I’m currently doing research, development and design of power train components and systems predominantly for Formula 3, Formula 4 and high performance road cars. I’ve included a link to our website, as well as a copy of my complete dissertation on piston design and its.
It’s been over two weeks since the deadline for our design projects came and went. As it fit well with my dissertation I decided to try to hone my skills in terms of piston design. In the meantime I have thrown together a conrod in my spare time. The conrod isn’t quite up to the standards I’d like it to be yet, but it gives some perspective as to the shape of the set-up as a whole. Although it was banned in F1 years ago, i decided to design the conrod from a beryllium-aluminum alloy, due to its favorable mechanical properties (beryllium has the lowest specific density of any homogeneous material with suitable properties for engineering applications). This entire piston & connecting rod assembly has a mass of 355g, but as mentioned, work on the conrod is at a draft stage and the piston design has yet to be validated by professor Goddard, so there is definitely room for improvement.
When I was a child I loved playing with Lego. I would spend hours designing and building cars a planes only to destroy them and start over. Although sitting endlessly in front of a computer screen and building digital models is a lot harder on the eyes, I am glad to report that I get the same satisfaction I did as a child playing with those small Danish blocks. It’s a nice feeling to finally be happy with the work you do, my hope now is that I can land a job doing it!
The 2013 F1 season is just around the corner and despite the lack of any Japanese or Canadians on the grid, I find myself as interested as ever about the upcoming year. Of course, with the introduction of many new regulations for 2014, there is a tendency, for those of us interested, to look past this final year of natural aspiration, screaming exhaust notes and hideous noses. To do that would be a shame though, because despite their consistent year-over-year degradation in form (this year has been a slight improvement but, in my opinion the cars peaked in 2008), and to a lesser extent performance (somewhat offset by the return to slick tires in 2009), these cars have offered up some of the most entertaining Grand Prix racing since the late 80’s. And so, ahead of this final season of current regulations, I thought I’d share a couple videos and photos to share my enthusiasm.
2008 Honda RA108:
2008 Honda RA808E:
Oh, and did you really think I could wrap up a post on F1 without talking about Honda’s rumored return?! According to multiple sources the 5th most successful engine manufacturer in Formula 1 history is set to return to the grid in 2015 powering McLaren designed cars. Word has it that instead of running its own team, Honda will return in its niche capacity of engine supplier only. This is exciting for two reasons: 1. Honda will be back in F1 & 2. There is a strong likelihood that, unlike the last time, Honda powered cars will be winning races on a frequent basis. Below are two links to articles on the subject.
Tensions were high last Thursday. Going into the weekend, I still had plenty of loose-ends left to tie regarding my design coursework for Racing Engine Design. Moreover, I had planned to join friends on a Saturday excursion to London. Though I had planned to go several times before, this was to be my first legitimate trip to England’s capital since my arrival in September. However, by Friday night it was looking like the trip would have to be rescheduled yet again. To understand why, I need to explain the third and, possibly most important, item on my schedule – a job application. But not just any job application.
It was my job application to Honda Japan, and from the outset the obstacles preventing me from completing it loomed large. To this point, the application process has been 3 steps: central recruitment website registration, Honda specific website registration, and the application itself (which was released to members of the Honda specific website in early February). Although the website registration was in Japanese and the process was foreign to me, things had progressed smoothly until the point where the application needed to be physically completed. By hand. While I have many people to thank for the my recent improvement in Japanese proficiency the truth is I am not yet at a level where I can accurately express the finer details of technical subjects such as my schoolwork. And so, mostly due to the help of my loving fiancee, an accurate translation of my English responses was formulated. So Friday it was time to get down to the business of putting 2,300 characters to paper.
At first I guess I was turned off by the idea of a company asking prospective employees to write an application by hand. After all, this is the 21st century and Japanese is a synonym for efficient, isn’t it? Well apparently the majority of the larger corporations in Japan prefer to run their intake programs like this, and after completing the form by hand, I have a sliver of understanding into why that might be. Dedication. One can see things in the stroke of ink formed by hand that aren’t possible when that same stroke is created by means of mass publication. The precision, accuracy and style with which we wright not only conveys what it is that we wright, but adds to it. The Japanese are intrinsically talented at picking up on these subtleties. And although there are surely more logical, logistical reasons why these companies choose to continue screening applicants in this manner, I believe that this added dimension must also play a role in their decision.
At any rate, I did my best to mirror the OCD shown by Honda in their intake process in my own submission. Ten hours into it, and with only a hint of early onset rheumatoid arthritis, I god the job done. Well, sort of anyway. You see, tomorrow morning will begin with a mad dash to the parcel store to ship this sucker express to the heart of Honda’s HQ in Aoyama, Tokyo (which strangely enough is kitty-corner to the Canadian embassy in Japan…a good omen perhaps?). From there, if selected, awaits a test and possibly an interview. both of which would require an improvement in my current Japanese abilities and/or a minor miracle to pass.
Why do it then? Well, fittingly enough my response again echos that of Honda’s: the power of dreams.
A small post script: I managed to make it to London and complete my coursework with time to spare!
Stumbled accross this interesting video on Nismo today, thought I’d share it:
Click here to view.
Tomorrow is the deadline for submitting our initial dissertation project plans and since I have completed mine a little early I thought I’d share it with family and friends to give an insight into the nitty-gritty of what I am doing in the UK. This document is just an overview of the particular subject I will be immersing myself in over the next few months, so it is lacking quite a bit of detail. As you probably know, I am lazy so instead of transforming the report into a blog post I’m just going to post it as a pdf. Please feel free to download it and have a look if you’re interested.
Update: Thanks to a keen eye by my Dad, I realized that I had edited and submitted the incorrect version earlier today. Luckily I was able to catch the mistake and re-submit the proper (above) version. Cheers to grammar! haha
Nothing nearly as thought provoking as the last post, but today I caught myself daydreaming about owning a car again and thought I’d throw up a few pictures of the more memorable cars I’ve had the opportunity to own or drive on a frequent basis. Even though I study the internal combustion engine and its high performance applications, on some days it feels as though there is no substitute for a car of my own.
1992 Honda Civic Si
1990 Toyota MR2 (SW20)
2002 Acura RSX Type-S
1995 Acura Integra GS-R
2007 Acura CSX Type-S
2008 Lexus IS-F
2004 Honda S2000
They were all special cars in their own way, but the one I remember most fondly is the one I found myself daydreaming of driving earlier today: the Integra. Hopefully I’ll be able to own another one (next time an R) again soon!
New post. Not going to explain why it’s been so long since the last one(no real reason), just want to get on with it and start jotting down more of the goings on of my life, and some thoughts.
It’s been a busy 12 months. A quick sit-rep shows that I’ve gotten engaged to the girl of my dreams, moved abroad (again), gone back to school (sometimes still trying to figure out why), went drinking in Köln, and later in the French Alps and made it back to Japan for a third time. I attended my first Super GT race, met an Olympian, watched proudly as a life-long friend married his high school sweetheart, and collected some new friends along the way. But enough about that, what I really wanted to write about is far less important.
Today, while nestled familiarly in the back corner of a tired U1 student shuttle (bus to Wheatley), it suddenly dawned on me – intelligence is not what it used to be. Recently I have been dabbling in two very different realms of learning – one fundamentally linguistic and the other (more primary) fundamentally mathematical in nature. A movie I recently watched (set in the 60’s) combined with this juxtaposition, has resulted in some self reflection on what it actually takes to learn a language or become as an engineer. The answer is substantially different than it would have been 100 years ago. It could even be argued that today’s response is significantly different than it would have been 50 years ago. However, I would go further and say that, even as little as 25 years ago, the skills required to master a language, engineer a bridge, generate a business plan or write a poem were not only vastly different from what they are today but – more importantly – they were vastly different from each other.
In the world of google and the iPhone, the smart money is on those with investigative traits and the ability to discern between a reliable and a faulty source to be at the top of the class. Of course the need for those who excel to possess certain traits, which I consider to be more social, such as timing and communication have not disappeared either. Nevertheless, the days when language students and engineers needed to clumsily consult forests of reference books are long gone. There are no shortage of reliable sources for the basic principals of either at your finger tips, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week (unless you live in Brookes residence where the DNS server is powered by a man riding a bicycle [who isn’t even doping]). And so, with all of this instant consultation, the need to remember hard facts or methods is greatly diminished – no matter the field of study. Until a point, is not all modern learning just a reflection of our search proficiency?
Rather ironically, I have turned to google to help me in the search of a primary definition for intelligence:
Intelligence is a capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.”
I never appreciated the methods of my undergraduate schooling until now. While archaic in some respects, I now believe that the only way to ultimately achieve real high-level learning (by the definition given below), is to take your learning to a point of mastery. Mastery requires that the fundamentals come naturally, instead of just quickly. The same way fluidity accuracy, timing and contribution is required to show mastery in a language, fundamental skills of engineering need to be combined in the right situation and timing. This can only be done if the basics are well understood and not continually gleaned from references.
It seems to me that true masters of their fields are few and far between. Having the opportunity to study under two (Geoff Goddard and Stephen Samuel), has been an enlightening experience. I have my doubts as to if I will ever get the the stage of either of those men, but I hope for the sake of my generation more of us do.
I originally wrote this note on December 7th of last year, after finding out the company I’m currently working at wanted to hire me. I thought I’d share it now…
“Another week, another post. And this week was an interesting one, marked by absolutes. The absolute dislike I have grown to fervor for daily life here in Tokyo has been contrasted by several unique occasions I will remember for a long time. But though the experiences have been polarizing, I have – until recently- been unable to come to a definitive conclusion regarding my feelings about ‘here’. It’s the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality of this place that makes it particularly difficult to analyze and, subsequently, adapt to. It’s a puzzle that I’ve been struggling with for a few weeks, and it’s one that I now feel I’ve cracked. At least for myself.
I’ve decided to return to Vancouver. I don’t want this to be seen as ‘giving-up’, although I’m sure to some it will be. There are a million-and-one easy excuses I could employ to explain away my decision but the fact of the matter is that I don’t need any of them. I haven’t decided to come home because I’m having trouble picking up the language, adapting to the controlled chaos that is Tokyo, or understanding some of the foreign quirks of Japanese society. No. I’m coming home because opportunity knocks. And one of the many things I have learned living in the harshness of a big city is that when opportunity knocks, you bloody well better answer the door.”
It’s interesting for me to read something I wrote months ago. I’ve never, in my life, kept a journal and old school notes have always been filed away the moment semesters end, so this is a rare opportunity for me to see the goings on of my own mind some time ago. It’s been nearly eight months since I returned to Vancouver and I’ll keep my analysis brief: Just because it’s opportunity knocking, it doesn’t mean you can’t take your time getting to the door…
I recently had the pleasure of traveling to Goshen, Indiana on business. And when I say pleasure I do say it with a hint of sarcasm, just a hint. The more astute among you will probably wonder why an English teacher from Tokyo is traveling to Indiana on business, and that’s certainly understandable. The overwhelming majority of Michianers (as they are so called) do speak English – or at least a form of it – and as such really wouldn’t benefit from any ‘one-on-one’ lessons with Berlitz. No, the reason I was spending time dodging Amish horse drawn carriages and shopping at Wal-marts the size of Chuo ward is because I’ve taken a new job in my field of study – engineering.
Now at this point I could easily write an entire entry about my decision to move home and take a career position but it isn’t a decision that I’m particularly happy with and ultimately thinking about it is likely to put my in somewhat of a depressed mood – so we’ll avoid that.
Speaking, however, of depressed moods, let’s get back to my time in Michiana. ‘Depressed mood’ would be a good way to sum up the experience of spending time in the RV producing capital of the world. The sheer distance between pockets of civilization meant I was spending long durations of time behind the wheel of a rental Ford Edge which, despite it’s handsome looks and all wheel drive, was in itself another let down. Combined with the weather – twenty inches of snow, and winds that would have got Columbus to the new world in about 15 minutes – and the lack of entertainment this place is certainly a glimmering ray of sunshine in an otherwise dark and gloomy world. Wait, no…that’s wrong. Try again: It’s a little piece of frozen hell in an world of such extreme natural beauty and rich cultural diversity. Yeah, that sounds a bit more accurate.
So what’s the point of this Midwest bashing? Perhaps you’re thinking it’s just me having a predisposed hatred for that region of the world? Well, no. I wanted to point out something miraculous through it all. A genuine ray of sunshine in a production line of oppressing circumstances. It’s the people. Amish or not, fat or thin (mostly fat), rich or poor, they were splendid people and the most energized and downright happy workforce I have ever seen. The general consensus is that America has lost its way and is no longer capable of producing the way it did during and after the Second World War. One trip to the factories of the Midwest does a lot to debunk this sentiment and change at least one mans’ perceptions on the region.And once more, as in Tokyo, no matter the surroundings it’s the people who amaze.