Successful Endeavours - Electronics Designs That Work!

Curiosity Landing

We were an excited bunch of Engineers as we watched the live feed from NASA of the landing of Curiosity on the surface of Mars. Given the telemetry delay of 15 minutes, the real landing had already happened. Here we were looking back in time as we were watching history being made. The tension and excitement were evident in the room and we felt it too.

Curiosity Landing

Curiosity Landing taken from the Mars Orbiter

As a team of Engineers who focus on the delivery of a brand new Electronics Design with the supporting Embedded Software, we know a little of what it is like to fire things up for the first time but celebrate that it didn’t go up in smoke. Not that this happens literally very often, but it is a good feeling to get confirmation that the careful design work has been successfully implemented. We develop up to 100 new Electronics Products each year so we have had some practice at this.

In space this is harder still for 3 reasons:

  • You can’t easily rework it if it goes wrong. It is too hard to get to it. It has to be right.
  • Radiation is much worse and the environment is more demanding. You can’t just use any technology for Aerospace Electronics Development.
  • A lot more investment is at stake.

The celebration when the first telemetry feeds came through as ‘Nominal’ was overwhelming. So this is what it looks like to deliver on $2B of R&D Investment!

Curiosity On Mars after successfully landing

Curiosity On Mars – front leg in view

And thoroughly deserved too. Though the use of ‘Nominal’ for such a great outcome is a little understated. But then this is Engineering and science. We know a little of what that is like though we don’t get to spend that level of investment in creating the future. Certainly the win last year for the Industrial Electronics Future Awards 2011 was a moment we savour.

You can watch the whole landing here:

 

 And some links you will enjoy if you are an enthusiast as I am

Curiosity parachuting to Mars

Curiosities first images

Mars Mt Sharp images

NASA Multimedia gallery

And some other space related posts are at Space.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years.  This post is Copyright © 2012  Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd

Ray Keefe interview with Ryan Gomez

Today I was interviewed by Ryan Gomez on Casey Radio. Ryan is an award winning motivational speaker and life coach and host of the Hour of Power and Leadership each Sunday at 1pm. I was his guest for the second half of the show where he wanted to explore the success of my business, Successful Endeavours, and my role in that.

Ryan Gomez

Ryan Gomez

This is my second interview on Casey Radio. The previous was for the Casey Radio Business Hour where David Wilkinson of the Casey Economic Development Department wanted to know how our win as Casey Business of the Year 2010 had impacted my business.

This time Ryan gave me a chance to tell some of the bigger story of my life, my faith and my business journey. 

Ray Keefe with Ryan Gomez

Ray Keefe with Ryan Gomez

 We covered a lot of ground including:

  • How I got into Engineering in the first place
  • Why I started Successful Endeavours
  • How my faith affects my decisions in business
  • How important a business mentor has been to our success
  • What advice I have for other small business owners

 

Ray Keefe interviewed by Ryan Gomez

Ray Keefe interviewed by Ryan Gomez

 I found that Ryan and I shared a number of views including the importance of people, the need to have a purpose for what you do and the value of continuing to grow day by day. Ryan is also a big believer in the power of mistakes and learning from them. Something I strongly agree with.

I also had the chance to share about why Manufacturing is so important to me. Manufacturing is the largest industry sector in Victoria, the largest employer and the largest exporter. It is the at the heart of Victoria’s economy and vital to the progress of Innovation, the knowledge economy and the best way to grow employment as it generates more indirect jobs per direct job of any area of commercial activity.

And of course I love creating new products that make people’s lives better. That’s what Engineers do.

I finished off the interview with my favourite business quote and my advice to other small business owners.

Ray Keefe’s Business Quote

The purpose of the organisation is so that ordinary men and women can come together, and in cooperation with each other, do the extraordinary“. Aristotle ~380BC

Ray Keefe’s Business Advice

If you are a small business owner, it is likely that you will have gaps in your understanding of business and how to take the business to the next level. So my advice is to find a business mentor you can trust and work with, and let them help you. You don’t know what you don’t know. 

Ray Keefe on Casey Radio Hour Of Power And Leadership

Ray Keefe on Casey Radio

Casey Radio Interview with Ray KeefeClick on the image on the left to download or listen to the Casey Radio Hour of Power and Leadership interview with Ray Keefe.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years.  This post is Copyright © 2012  Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd

Squash Lessons for Engineering

The picture in today’s post comes courtesy of Dr Marc Dussault, The Exponential Growth Strategist. At his recent Exponential Business Building Bootcamp, he demonstrated how a Squash Racquet gets broken from repeated use.

Broken Squash Racquet

So what does this have to do with Engineering? Glad you asked.

First, I have to explain the demonstration. Marc showed that it takes a very large amount of force to break the Squash Racquet.  He really applied himself to the destructive task and it took a few minutes of escalating Squash Racquet abuse before it finally succumbed and broke.  Some of us in the front of the room could tell just how much it required to break the Squash Racquet. However the Squash Racket already had a crack, so Marc knew where to apply the force in order to break it.  The picture above is the final outcome.  Without the crack being obvious, it would have been almost impossible to have broken the Squash Racquet using just randomly applied force.

Marc then explained that way the Squash Racquet became cracked in the first place, was by it being consistently scraped along the wall as he retrieved the ball from shots along the wall.  Marc is an outstanding competitive squash player and currently ranks  as World # 18! So he knows his stuff when it comes to squash.  You can read more about this at his Mindset Of A Champion blog.

So if you know what to look for, you can monitor the thinning of the racquet and get an idea of when and where it might fail.  If you don’t know what to look for, then the failure will be unexpected.

Software Testing and Software Engineering

A lot of Software Testing can suffer from the same problem.  If you already know where the weakness will be and how to spot it, then finding a bug is easy.  You can set up the scenario, monitor for the symptom and confirm the failure.  Or, if you have enough resources you can go the brute force approach and just break it through the persistent use of randomly directed and escalated force of testing.  However very products are simple enough and very few companies are large enough to have that level of resource and to solve the problem this way.  So for the rest of us, the other 99.995%, a more intelligent approach is needed.

Since you don’t know where and when it will fail, it is best to remove failure causes from the beginning. This is where Software Engineering come is. Software Engineering is not just coding.  Coding is the production end of the Software Engineering process.  Software Engineering is about designing the system so you have defined the components so they are each fully testable in their own right. Then you can apply processes like Unit Testing to ensure they are fully functional as stand alone pieces of software. You can then perform Integration Testing to ensure that software added to the system correctly handles both the Execution Flow, also known as Control Flow, and Data Flow required including error and Exception Handling. The result is that you build up a fully working and correctly executing system quickly and with great confidence. It isn’t a magic bullet but it is close to it.

As was famously quipped by Edsger Dijkstra, “If Debugging is the process of removing bugs, then programming must be the process of putting them in”.

So if you put less bugs in, you have less debugging to do. And that saves time and removes future time bombs.  Because the chance that you find them all is zero percent. And you can’t create a system that is 100% testable by brute force means. So you have to go about it smarter.  It will save time, money and improve the business outcome now and into the future.

Ray Keefe has been developing high quality and market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years.  For more information go to his LinkedIn profile. This post is Copyright © 2010  Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Australian Engineering Week 2010

Today begins Australian Engineering Week 2010.  You can get a full run down on all the events at Make It So which you might recognise as a tribute to the Star Trek series. 

It got me thinking about why I got started in Engineering.  It was music.  I had done 1 year of a Science degree focusing on Physics and Chemistry at Deakin University and had taken a year off because I had no idea why I was doing a degree.  So I worked a few mundane jobs and joined a pub band.  We were pretty bad.  I had only started playing guitar a year before that.  The equipment was low grade and needed a lot of maintenance and I was constantly trying to improve the PA, the mixer, the guitar and amplifier and the effects.  They were all analogue electronics in those days. It was mostly trial and error and occasionally trial and success!

What if I knew enough about Electronics to be able to improve, or even design from scratch, my own guitar effects pedals, guitar amplifiers, mixing desks and PA system?

But where would I learn that?  So I went back to Deakin University and asked them.  And they suggested Engineering.  I had mostly thought of Engineering as roads, buildings, bridges and transport so this was a new type of Engineering for me.  But I was also hooked.

Four years later with a First Class Honours Degree in Electrical Engineering I was doing just what I had set out to do.  Electronics Design was now a part of who I was, not just an area of study.   My rig was designed and built by me.  And I also doing electronics design and custom pro-audio equipment construction for recording studios and professional musicians.

So check out Australian Engineering Week 2010 and for some more insights into Engineering you can also read the blog at Engineering Education Australia.

Ray Keefe has been developing high quality and market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years.  For more information go to his LinkedIn profile. This post is Copyright © 2010  Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

This week I was the recipient of an Exponential Entrepreneur of the Year award.  Last year we were received 2 awards for technical excellence when we won 2 of the 15 EDN Innovation awards handed out in Australia in 2009.

So I was very pleased to be receiving an award recognising the business side of Successful Endeavours.  The award was presented by Dr Marc Dussault of Exponential Programs and recognises entrepreneurs and business people who have demonstrated excellence deploying exponential strategies in their business by profitably creating exceptional value for their clients in a manner that is both measurable and sustainable. The award received was in the category of Engineering Consultant and was one of only 6 handed out in 2010 and the only one in that category.

Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 Ray Keefe

Exponential Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 Ray Keefe receives his award from Dr Marc Dussault.

You can read more about the awards at Exponential Programs Entrepreneur of the Year Awards page.

The main reason for this post is to touch on the most significant aspect of this award for me. I once said that as a Business Owner I made a pretty good Engineer.  The past 18 months has a seen a transition away from that to the point now where I can say that I am an Entrepreneur who is also an EngineerEngineering is a Profession and so it isn’t something that suddenly stops being relevant.  Our education and mindset is all based on practical problem solving through the use of technology while balancing performance, risk and cost.  And we apply this skillset and mindset to most aspects of our lives, even when it isn’t the only way to go about it.  So I am very pleased to be making this transition.  Not only is our business better for it but our clients are as well.

And I also thank our clients for the trust they have placed in us to deliver Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development for their next generation of market leading products, the vast majority of which are still made in Australia at a profit.

Here is a picture of the Exponential Entrepreneur of the Year award certificate.

Exponential Entrepreneur of the Year Certificate

Exponential Entrepreneur of the Year Certificate

The initial nomination was published on PRWeb at 2010 Exponential Entrepreneur Award Winners Announced.

 

Ray Keefe has been developing high quality and market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years.  For more information go to his LinkedIn profile. This post is Copyright © 2010  Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.