What does it mean to own a car versus renting a car? For me, there is a huge difference between the two. Admittedly, I am not the type of individual that returns a rental car clean and washed, as I know the rental company (who actually owns the car) will take care of that. However, with the car I own, I make it a priority to wash it at least once a week to keep the paint maintained and the car looking nice. I make sure when I fill up with gas to clean the interior a bit. I do monthly check-ins to make sure everything is operating efficiently. I also check my tires regularly for wear and tear. In other words, I am inclined to take more care of something I own versus something I am renting.
I had the opportunity once again this year to attend COMVEC 2021 with fellow DISTekians Nick Elliott and Benjamin Jefferson. COMVEC, (Commercial Vehicle Engineering Congress), is a conference sponsored by the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers). It is dedicated to discussing the latest and future trends pertinent to commercial vehicles in the on-highway, agricultural, construction, industrial, military and mining sectors. The theme of this year’s conference was “Energy, Sustainability, and the Future of Commercial Vehicle Transportation”.
In Part 1, we discussed the challenges of virtual collaboration and fundraising for the past season of FIRST robotics. In this Part 2, lets discuss the challenges of competition and community outreach.
Participating in competitions themselves has been very different. The main draw of robotics for students each season is to compete, of course. Our competitions are always a fun and exciting time. The energy is infectious. It’s where all our hard work pays off.
You would have to be living under a pretty big rock to not realize that the in-person-conference scenario has changed quite a bit in the last 18 months. I know of a few in-person events that have happened since most everything shut down in March 2020, but they are few and far between. So, needless to say, I am looking forward to a chance to get back together with some fellow industry professionals at SAE COMVEC in mid-September. Of course, I expect there to be some differences from the last time we did in-person COMVEC, but as engineers, we live in a constant state of change anyway.
Most people who know me know I have a passion for FIRST Robotics. During the school year, much of my free time is spent volunteering in one way or another, from planning to coaching to mentoring to judging and beyond. I spend a good portion of my vacation hours traveling to competitions in places such as Missouri, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Michigan. I feel that the values and skills young people learn as a part of these programs are invaluable and lessons that they will carry with them through high school, college and life beyond. I am so honored to be a part of this program.
There are some things in life that we take for granted. Food, clothes, cars, homes, the Vehicle System Network Database… OK, well maybe not the Vehicle System Network Database, but it got your attention, didn’t it? So let me tell you a little bit about the Vehicle System Network database, something we work with here at DISTek on a daily basis.
How to develop a habit and make it stick. How to start a conversation and keep it going. How to identify a lead and pass along the pertinent information. Not content which is traditionally associated with technical trainings. Rather, skills that can help anyone wanting to advance his or her career and the content taught in DISTek U 110: Engineering 1 Fundamentals Track.
Recognizing that the internet is full of trainings teaching engineers the technical skills that they need to do their daily work, in 2018 we took a different approach in creating our internal training program, DISTek U. Our trainings leverage off-the shelf resources to help employees develop foundations upon which they can build their careers. We focus upon the soft skills that allow employees to grow and develop their careers beyond their daily workflow.
The mission of FIRST Lego League is to inspire youth though hands-on STEM learning. That mission is facilitated through participation in the FIRST Lego League program, which guides youth through STEM learning and exploration at an early age. First Lego League’s youngest group, called “Explore,” is for elementary grades one through three. So this year, my seven-year-old son was finally old enough to join and we immediately signed him up. Shortly after, the school started to send emails requesting volunteers to coach teams.
Spring is in the air, and growth is everywhere – including here at DISTek. That’s right; we’re growing. Demand is high for our services, and we’re hiring talented engineers to help us meet that demand. We’re expanding our engineering staff from 90 to 125 full-time engineers. This includes entry, mid, and senior level engineers, as well as project leads, team leads, and engineering managers.
In Part 1 of this two part series, we heard from DISTek Software Engineers Gerardo Zamora and Chad Stapes, who recently completed DISTek U 210 – a DISTek training course offered internally to engineers wanting to embark on a path of growth and prepare themselves for the next engineering tier level. Gerardo reviewed the book, Eat that Frog!, and Chad reviewed the book, You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader.
In this Part 2, Michael Barnhardt, a Software Engineer at DISTek for over 5 years, discusses, The Power of Positive Thinking in Business, and provides an overview of the final component of the DISTek U 210 course, the mentor-ship program.
The year 2020 has changed how work is done on a daily basis. In August, I was a stay-at-home mom of 2 boys, Christian (8) and Michael (6). I had just accepted a position at DISTek and was trying to navigate the very murky waters of transitioning to a full time employee and a mother. It was overwhelming to say the least. If you recall August 2020, no one could positively say if school was in person, hybrid, all virtual or even if the kids would go to school and be sent home a week later to do virtual school due to the pandemic!
DISTek U210: E2 Track is a new DISTek course offered internally to engineers wanting to learn and prepare themselves for the next engineering tier level. We use a classification of E1-E5 here at DISTek with E1 being entry level. Although, it is mostly geared towards E2s looking to set themselves up for success in becoming an E3 or senior engineer, the track also welcomes E1s wanting to learn about E2. In this class, we went over three books, had a panel discussion with senior engineers, and a mentorship project managed by the students in the class. This course also offered the benefit of networking and interacting with other DISTekians who we may not normally get the chance to work with.
In this two part series, we will talk about each of the books and the mentorship program, with the first two books being discussed by Gerardo Zamora and Chad Stapes here in Part 1, and a final book and mentorshiop being discussed by Michael Barnhardt in Part 2.