The Story of How I Got Fired From My Engineering Internship (SCRIPT)

In 2009, I got an internship at a company called SoCal Gas, which is part of Sempra Energy a Fortune 500 company. My starting pay was $21.50 per hour which is a lot more than I ever earned in my life. And I thought wow I'm done for life, I'm going to stay at this company for the rest of my life and it's going to be great. Before I started the internship, I knew work would be work, but I thought it would be decently fun. I was wrong

The internship was significantly worst than I thought.

  1. The work was tedious. Some of it was just plain data entry. A lot of it was filling out technical paperwork so we can deliver gas to new businesses. And I know a common objection I get when I say this is,  “Oh Matt, well you have to work your way up to get the more complicated work” and to counter that argument is that even thought I was just an intern, I knew what the senior engineers were doing because we all worked in the same office. And when I saw what they were doing, it was also tedious, but what they were doing had more consequences if there were errors.
  2. Large old companies have a strict corporate culture that doesn't appeal to millennials. One example is that there's a lot of tedious paperwork when I was working and my boss wouldn't let me wear headphones to listen to music because she said it looks unprofessional. Which is ridiculous. Another example one time I was 5 minutes late one day and my boss yelled at me for being 5 min late, whereas a lot of younger companies give more flexibility of when employees have to come in because they know thing happen in the morning

 

And so because I hated it so much. I would show up late all the time, and sometimes I would show up several hours late. And I was given 2 warnings about it, and so after I finished a major project for the company, I was called into a meeting room. My boss was there and the human resources manager was there and I knew what was going to happen. She said I was being fired for my previous performance and for being late, but I asked, “but I haven't been late or did anything wrong in the past 2 weeks so why am I being fired now. And she couldn't give me a straight answer. I remember that drive home feeling so ashamed and guilty to tell my parents. And when I told my parents they gave me a lecture saying that I need to be an adult, and I should've taken my job more seriously, but at the same time, I felt a bit relieved that I could finally move on my with my life because that company is a trap. People can easily spend their whole careers there because the pay is good.

I looked up the laws about firing people and I found out based on how I was fired I could collect unemployment benefits. So I applied for unemployment benefits and got it. And the reason I was able to get employment benefits because when a company fires an employee that employee has to have a third strike and since I didn't commit a third strike, I was able to collect unemployment benefits. Also since that was during the recession Obama extended unemployment benefits by 6 months so I was able to collect benefits for a year, and the amount I receive in benefits is based on my highest earning quarter and since I was a fulltime employee during the summer, what was I was getting for unemployment benefits was the same as if I was working 20 hours per week. What started off a tragedy ended up being a blessing because I was able to pay for my last year in college without having to work.

Being fired for the first time sucked, but I'm glad it happened. I wouldn't be able to be working remotely here in the Philippines if I had stayed at that job.

11 Lessons from Elon Musk

Elon Musk is the most famous engineer alive today, is the inspiration behind the modern image of “Iron Man”, and is responsible for running five companies (Tesla, SpaceX, Solar City, The Boring Company, Neurolink). There is a lot that we can learn from him. His original highlights include selling a videogame at age 12, double majoring at UPenn, co-founding Zip2 and selling for $307M in 1991, and co-founding PayPal and selling for $1.5B to eBay. This final success left him with $180M after taxes, and Tesla / SpaceX / Solar City were born after that.

Everyone told Musk he was crazy, he’d lose all his money, and none of the ventures would be successful. Tesla had a rough start, SpaceX had three rocket explosions (including a live payload lose), and Solar City began when solar panels were no where near as cool as they are today. But all three survived. Elon is famous for his futuristic vision, work ethic, and his ability to create a team to literally accomplish anything. Here are the top 11 lessons from Elon Musk!

1.Never Give Up
During a 60 Minutes interview with Scott Pelley, Musk was asked:

“When you had that third [rocket] failure in a row, did you think, “I need to pack this in?”
“Never.”
“Why not?
“I don't ever give up. I mean, I'd have to be, dead or completely incapacitated.“

2. Work Hard
During his USC Marshall School of Business Commencement address in 2014, Musks provided a preview into his view on what “hard work” really is:

“When my brother and I were starting up our first company, instead of getting an apartment, we just rented a small office, and we slept on the couch. We showered at the YMCA, and we were so poor, we had just one computer, so the website was up during the day, and I was coding at night. Seven days a week, all the time. And I sort of briefly had a girlfriend in that period, and in order to be with me, she had to sleep in the office. Work hard every waking hour. If you do simple math, like somebody else is working 50 hours, and you're working 100, you'll get twice as much done in the course of a year as the other person.”

3. Have Passion for your Work
During a BBC interview with Jeremy Clarkson, Elon tells us what get him excited:

“You want to do projects that are inspiring, and that make people excited about the future. Life's got to be about more than solving projects. You have to get up in the morning and say “Yes, I'm looking forward to that thing happening.”

4. Have Confidence
In order to instill trust, belief, and utmost confidence in our team, we must provide the highest level of conviction when we communicate our views. Elon expands idea this during a Business Insider interview:

“Really believe in what you are doing, but not just from a blind faith standpoint. To have really thought about it and say okay, this is true, I'm convinced it's true, and I've tried every angle to figure out if it's untrue, and sought negative feedback to figure out if I'm maybe wrong, and after all that, okay it still seems this is the right way to go. then that I think gives one a fundamental conviction and an ability to convey that conviction to others.”

5. Take Risks
The USC business class of 2014 receive more amazing words from Elon. It’s often stated the biggest risk in life is not taking any risks. Elon expresses his view on the matter:

“Now is the time to take risks. You don't have kids, but as you get older, your obligations increase. And once you have a family, you start taking risks not only for yourself, but for your family as well. It gets much harder to do things that might not work out. So now is the time to do that, before you have those obligations. So I would encourage you to take risks now. Do something bold. You won't regret it.”

6. Be Inspired
While on stage with Chris Anderson during TED Vancouver, Elon tells us what inspires him:

“I think it's important to have a future that's inspiring an appealing, I mean… I just think that there have to be reasons to get up in the morning, and you want to live. Like, why do you want to live? What's the point, what inspires you? What do you love about the future? And if we're not out there, if the future does not include being out there among the stars, and being a multi planet species, I find that incredibly depressing, if that's not the future we're going to have.”

7. Add Value
Elon famously said when he was younger, there were five problems that he thought were most important to work on. For the record, those were “the internet; sustainable energy; space exploration, in particular the permanent extension of life beyond Earth; artificial intelligence; and reprogramming the human genetic code”. The Y Combinator founder Sam Altman asks Elon:

“If you were 22 today, what five problems would you want to work on?”

“I think if somebody is doing something that is useful to the rest of society, I think that's a good thing. It doesn't have to change the world. You know. If you're doing something that has high value to people, um, and frankly, even if it's something like um, just a little game um, or you know, some improvement in photo sharing. If it has a small amount of good for a large number of people, that's, I think that's fine. Stuff doesn't need to be changing the world just to be good.”

8. Deploy “First Principles”
Digg founder Kevin Rose interviewed Elon for Foundation, where he asks about his problem solving approach:

“I think it's also important to reason from “First Principles” rather than by analogy. So the normal way that we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy. We're doing this because, “it's like something else that was done” or “it's like other people are doing”. Me too type ideas. Yeah. It's like, slight permutations, on a theme. And uh, and it's, kind of mentally easier to reason by analogy rather than through first principles, but first principles is sort of a physics way of looking at the world. And what that really means is, you kind of boil things down to the most fundamental truths. And say, okay what're we sure is true, or as sure as possible is true, and then reason up from there.”

9. You Can Learn Anything

Another stellar moment during his 60 Minutes interviwe, Elon reveals how he is qualified to be CTO of SpaceX. His response may shock you, however, it’s quite revealing as to what you can accomlish if you believe in yourself:

Scott Pelley: “How did you get the expertise to be the Chief Technology Officer of a rockship company?”
Musk: “Well, I do have a physics background, let's helpful as a foundation, um and then I read a lot of books and talked to a lot of smart people.”
Scott Pelley: “You're self taught?!?!”
Musk: “Yeah. Well self taught meaning, I don't have an aerospace degree.”
Scott Pelley: “So how did you go about acquiring the knowledge?”
Elon: “Well, like I said, I read a lot of books, and talked to a lot of people, and have a great team…”

10. Be Ambitious, Don’t Worry about Money
During an INC Magazine interview, VC Steve Jurvetson asks Elon about the source of his ambition. Elon responds with a very insightful story:

“When I started the first internet company, Zip2, with my brother and another person, Greg Curry, it wasn't really with the thought of being wealthy. I have nothing against being wealthy, it was just from the standpoint of wanting to be part of the internet. I figured if we could make enough money to just get by, that would be okay. When we started off, we literally only had one computer, so it would be our web server during the day, and I'd be coding at night. And we just got a small office, in Palo Alto back when rent was not insane, um, and it cost us like $350 a month. It was cheaper than an apartment, so we just slept in the office, and then showered at the YMCA on Page Mill & El Camino. So we'd walk over there and shower.”

11. Think Big, Change the World
During a CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria, Elon was asked about his vision to turn the human race a multi-planetary species:

“So the first order of business is to figure out how to get there, and it needs to be, in a way that enables large numbers of people and cargo. It can't just be like a handful of people, because that's obviously not going to create a self sustaining civilization. An Apollo was an amazing inspiring thing for all of humanity, but the last time we went to the moon was like 1973 or 4 I believe, so, we don't want to just have flags and footprints, and then never go to Mars again. If we just have one mission, that will also be a super inspiring thing, but it's not going to fundamentally change the future of humanity.”

These quotes are compiled into a video here: 11 Lessons from Elon Musk

Author:
Jake Voorhees
1% Engineer

How Much Does A YouTuber With 200,000 Subscribers Make?

UPDATE 8/4/2017: I currently have 240,000 subscribers. I make ~$12,000 per month. $3,000 comes from YouTube ad revenue and $9,000 comes from selling this digital marketing course. If you want to learn how to create your own infotainment YouTube channel you can get my course here: HowToYouTube.com


A couple months ago I went public with how much I made from my YouTube channel:

I make roughly $11,000 per month. About 65% of it comes from the affiliate cut I get from selling this online course.

About 30% comes from YouTube Ad Revenue:

And about 5% comes from other sponsorships, affiliates and partnerships like the one I have with WayUp where they pay me $0.75 for each user I get to sign up for their website.

I also get perks:

  • I attended a coding bootcamp in exchange for videos. They provided housing
  • I get free premium accounts to several platforms like Wix, Shopify, etc.
  • I've sold 3 condos in the Philippines with this video. I earned a 2% commission from each sale so I roughly made $7,500 from that video.



I'd like to address 2 FAQs:

Question: There's no way you're making that amount! I know YouTubers with way more subscribers and they only make a fraction of that! You're lying!

Answer: While it is true that more views and subscribers does generally mean more money, there are 2 things that are often misunderstood when it comes to making money off YouTube.  (1) Views are worth a different amount depending on the industry. Since I'm in the education industry my views are worth a lot more than views in the entertainment industry. The ads played on my channel are more expensive therefore YouTube pays me more money. (2) Since I'm helping someone with their career it makes sense for me to sell something that helps them with their career. The easiest thing to sell is education because if people can see themselves making money from the knowledge (e.g. college, coding bootcamps) then it's easy to convince them why it's worth the cost.

Question: That's really interesting Matt. I'm thinking about starting a channel myself. Would it be cool if we could jump on a call so I can ask you a few questions?

Answer: I just released a course on how to make a successful infotainment channel:HowToYouTube.com. In the course, I give my best advice and layout strong paradigm shifts in how you will go about creating a channel. There is a 30-day money back guarantee so you have nothing to lose!

 

Take a look at my course if you want to make your own YouTube channel!

 

HOW TO MAKE MONEY WITH AMAZON? OVERVIEW FROM ENGINEER TURNED $1,000,000 AMAZON SELLER

How To Make Money With Amazon FBA? That's the question I asked myself in May 2015 in my Electrical Engineer's office at a local steelworks. Fast forward to July 2017 and we have just passed £780,000 in sales which are over $1,000,000 according to google currency converter. Not only that, I have systemized and automated the business by building a team of 20 virtual assistants and 3 warehouse employees.

I am now free to pursue my real passion which is my personal brand: Life Success Engineer. The brand is documenting my journey through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship which has taken me to two Tony Robbins Unleash The Power Within Seminars and to T-Harv Eker's Millionaire Mind Intensive Seminar. Now I get to help others get started online using my YouTube Channel as a vehicle to fulfill my ultimate goal of impacting 1,000,000 people.

WATCH ME MAKE MONEY ON AMAZON BELOW

FULFILLED BY AMAZON (FBA) OVERVIEW

As the video above showed, Amazon has created a program called Fulfilled By Amazon which allows sellers to ship products to Amazon and then they can be sold from Amazon's marketplace. To customers, everything is just as it has always been. The only difference is when there is a third party seller, its says “Sold by “Seller Name” and Fulfilled by Amazon”.

You can become the seller and begin making a profit selling simple products without having to deal with the shipping or customer service.

Below are the steps to getting started with Amazon simplified as much as possible. This will be assuming you start an Amazon Seller Central account and provide all the required documentation to Amazon to get set up.

Step 1: Research & Find Profitable Products 

Finding the products is the most difficult step. At the beginning, it takes many hours as you look through different online stores trying to find different deals but the most important thing about this research is the information Amazon give you about every product on the site. By knowing what you are looking for we can find the following information:

Sellers Rank: How Many Times The Products Have Sold In The Past?

Price History: What The Current Price Is & How Long The Price Has Been Stable?

This then allows you to make the decision to purchase the product and send it to Amazon to be sold to customers.

Step 2: Purchase Your Products

Purchasing the products is also an opportunity to make money through “TopCashBackSites” and “Credit Card Bonus Features”. Over the past 24 months, we have made thousands of pounds of “free” money just by entering we use these sites and as many discount codes as possible. 

Step 2: Preparation Of Products & Shipping

All products need to be correctly prepared to be shipped to Amazon. Amazon has a comprehensive preparation guidance section on the website to ensure this is done as required. As you begin to purchase more and more products, the size of the operation gets bigger and bigger as you ship more products. After 6 months, I quit my job to concentrate on Amazon full time. It resulting us needing a warehouse as we got too big to operate from home.

Step 3: Scaling & Automation 

Now it is a case of repeating the process as much and as quickly as possible. For this I began to recruit Virtual Assistants that would do the tasks for me. Below are some of the tasks that have been outsourced:

  • Sourcing
  • Reviewing
  • Purchasing
  • Uploading Inventory
  • Management Of Pricing
  • Replenishing
  • Customer Messages
  • Amazon Seller Account Management
  • Amazon Reports

It's been quite a journey however it is now paying off. I highly recommend anyone to consider Amazon as a platform to start selling products.

ABOUT ME – KEVIN BLACKBURN

It's been a crazy 24 months but my attention has turned to helping people from my YouTube Channel.

The only way I know how is to keep taking action building a successful balanced life. Having 2 young children in a small family, the internet has given me the opportunity to design the lifestyle that suits us away from the traditional way of living.

To read my full story, check out my about page on the blog.

About Kevin Blackburn 

Why I have left the PLC programming field

…why state programming sucks.

This is a story about events 20 years ago that have changed my opinion about the PLC automation field that I was entering, whereafter I decided to enter the (then rapidly developing) IT networking field.

I have an electrical engineering degree and I'm a network administrator for more than a decade. I originally intended to enter the automation industry, but events in the late 1990's changed my mind about the profession. The information provided here is to account the events that happened, and might benefit you if you consider entering the PLC programming field. Take in consideration that economics change and things change during the years and the issues I've experienced may not apply to you in this field.

I started off in the software programming industry first as a C + SCADA programmer for about 1.5 years. When I finished my studies the recession of the early 1990's were finally starting to wear off and most of my former fellow students have already found a job, so did I. The conditions provided by my first employer were not the best, but the experience gained was considered very good for future employment, so most left for better grounds within a year. I thought I would be better off in the PLC automation industry, because PLC programming was what I had done in my thesis and I thought this would be easier. It proved to be a mistake.

I found a new job as a PLC programmer. Two smaller projects were first presented to me, first additions to an newly implemented existing Siemens S7 installation, and then a fully new Siemens S5 installation. After a month I was joined with a senior automation engineer and had to implement an S5 program in a big project. The specifications of the PLC were provided by another project engineering company who was implementing the physical infrastructure (piping, fitting, vessels) via subcontracting. I was not told the specifics of the contract of this project of any other project with this external engineering firm. They've send us the specifications of the PLC program every 3, 4 days in big envelops with bundles of papers filled with lines of conditions and actuators that had to be steered, all written down in listings of finite-state-machine states.

The way the PLC program was structured was very simple: the PLC program contains a dozen sequential programs that has to be executed in step wise fashion. Only one of these sequential programs was allowed to be executed at once, and each step in these sequential programs had its own step number. There are programming blocks in Siemens S5, called SB's (*Step Block, or originally called Schritt Baustein), but this way of programming was not used. Instead a custom programming scheme where a whole FB (*Function Block) designated for every step was used. Every step or FB, contained 3 networks: one network for the next step conditional to jump the sequential program to the next step, one network where a Set-bit is responsible for setting actuators high and one network where a Reset-bit is responsible for resetting actuators. A small central step-control FB is used to jump to the right step, and basically all what it does is jump with an indirect “B MW 200, SPA FB 0” instruction using a step number loaded in ACCU1 to the correct step FB. When a jump to the following step was requested via the next step conditional, the actuators in the current step FB were reset using the Reset bit, the step counter is increased, then in the same PLC scan cycle, the next step FB was called with the Set-bit so that unchanged values in outputs don't toggle their actuators. A sequential program could exist out of between 10 steps = 10 FB's to 20 steps = 20 FB's, there were about 15 sequential programs and in each step / FB there were around 70 actuators to be set or reset. A quick calculation of these shows there were 15x15x70 = around 16000 actuators to be programmed in around 220 FB's. The full listing of all the conditionals for step changing and the conditionals for setting and/or resetting of the actuators were provided in bundles of listings provided on sheets of papers, knitted together with a stapler, and I had to copy all the listings of these actuators into FB's.

After 2 months programming we discovered lots of redundancies were present in the specifications as provided, redundancies we couldn't have foreseen because only a single sequential program was delivered every 3 to 4 days, and it took about 1.5 months before we could extrapolate that these redundancies were there all over the whole PLC program, so rewriting would render all previous work void. We had all those actuators that weren't updated that were replicated over all the steps. Above that we actually found that individual steps on one sequential program closely mimics other steps in another sequential program. The programs were just variations of each other. All these steps were virtual identical, and the whole PLC program could be implemented a lot smaller if we had known this in advance. Some shortcuts were implemented, but more as an afterthought.

I had to enter all the programming in actual S5 AWL code. All decisions of laying out the steps and allocating inputs, outputs and conditions was already done by the external project engineering firm. I had no input: just tedious copying listings of countless conditions and actuators provided on +1000 pages of text. This extremely boring job took between 3.5 to 4 months to finish, including SCADA screen development.

Now, as some of you might think, “Who works in this way? Why doesn't employ the external project engineering form employ their own PLC engineer?” This question occurred me as well: the only rational I can give is that the external project engineering company has no resources to provide full 24×7 support needed by companies, and is outsourcing support to us, and we have to implement these programs in a way we could troubleshoot in a very instrumental way without consideration of the specifics of the actual program. This was not as what is told to me, it was told to me the reason they work like this is when a support call for an support engineer is issued by a company, the support engineer doesn't have to spend time understanding the PLC program. All this way of working was not told to me in advance when I applied for the job.

When entering of all this programming code was finished, the department head and the senior PLC engineer were to implement the PLC program on-site at the factory. I was designated to implement a similar program for a smaller similar installation, not only in entering a similar but shorter finite-state-machine states Iisting, this time only around 70 steps and a smaller amount of actuators where involved. I was asked to implement it in a similar way, with the same FB's as in the project that was done in the previous job. Because of the smaller scale of the program I could enter the provided sheets in a few weeks and start implementing it on-site with an (female) engineer of the external project engineering company.

On-site, first a small issue emerged with overlapping MB with a communication FB used for a control panel and the MB used inside the central step-control FB: the steps didn't worked as intended when the control panel was enabled. This was simple to solve, just move the MB of the step-control FB to another region. From the MB 250-253 to the MB 240-243 region or similar, still functional identical, but I had to update the corresponding conditional jump in each step FB, took some time.

Then a more serious problem emerged. The central step control FB showed a problem: when a new sequential program was started after the previous program was finished, the PLC jumped to the last step of the previous program instead of the first step of the newly started program. Was this standard central step control FB not supposed to be bug-free? This was puzzling. Generated a cross-reference of the whole PLC program, I started to verifying the individual merkers of the central step control FB to verify there was no conflict. Debugged the code, the step control FB AWL code showed to be non-intuitive as it combined both word operations, word shift operation, a bolean word using a mask operation, and individual bit operations, to make it very compact. As an ultimate test I disabled all the rest of the program except this FB, and it proved that the problem was due to the step control FB itself and not caused by some of my code. Then I made a call explaining the issue to the senior engineer on-site at Leuven. He was very surprised hearing of the issue, and replied this central control was used everywhere and never had any issues with it..

During debugging the block I discovered the merkers of the central step FW were not reset after ending the last step of a program, causing next program to start in the last step. Why? I compared my implementation with the previous project that I used as reference, and no mistakes were made, everything was identical. To continuing the testing the implementation I have to resort to a conditional reset after the central step control FB of each sequential program. This would allow testing, and in the empty periods where the project manager of the external project company was doing their own business allowing me to troubleshoot the code of the central step control FB.

A week before the deadline when most troubleshooting was done the project manager of the external engineering company made the request to implement a manual mode into the PLC program: it must be possible to enter a code on the display, select motors, pumps, valves on the display, set these in manual mode and toggle the output on those actuators. This was a big change, to implement this I had to move all the output actuators outside the individual steps and combine it with a conditional automatic/manual mode bit before output of the bit to the actual actuator. Changing this would be extremely time consuming. Of course I was objecting but the project manager kept insisting this manual mode had to be entered. I was thinking to make another call to the senior engineer.

Why I didn't? I was thinking… this whole programming method didn't made any sense. The central step control FB was super compact written, and while you might use extreme smart coding in PLC to save space and allow smaller models of PLC's to be used, it didn't made send to save space having unreadable piece of code and then waste a lot more space to redundant code. I had to enter all these lists of conditionals and actuators for months which was frustrating, time consuming and after all proved to be inflexible for changes, right in the first project I had to do. The central step control FB didn't work as intended which was very odd because if it was used everywhere it should have worked. The request for the manual mode just a week before deadline was totally off the hook. How didn't the project manager could haven't known this request would imply changing the programming if this way of programming was used everywhere? Today I know I have to ask to write these requested changes down in paper, so there can be no dispute at all, but remember I was fresh from college, I had no clue how to handle this. But back to the question: why didn't I made the call to the senior project manager? Think again… all this 5 months of entering listings of boring conditions and actuators… do I want to do this do this for a career?

I remember the PLC courses I took during my college years. We had all these PLC programming exercises. Because I already did some PLC programming in my high school I was aware there is a easy way to avoid difficult ladder logic programming: just define states using merkers, set the next merker when the condition for the following step was met, and reset the previous step merker using the inverted merker, easy done. Our group was the fastest to implement all these exercices. When the teacher discovered I was using this method she wrote special assignment for me I couldn't use this state programming method, to get me out of this habit of programming! Now, 2 years later, I was here on-site with this enormous volume of copied stack of code where there is no room far change, because if I have to change something in one step FB, I have to change it in all step FB's to maintain consistency… ironic isn't it? This shows how enormous inefficient and inflexible state based programming really is. I had to make a decision.

I evaluated the possibilities to change it to allow integrating a manual mode without rewriting everything. There was a solution: you can rewrite an output in the current scan cycle again, because  the buffered outputs are only after the end of the scan cycle written to the actual outputs. It's bad design, because now you have to keep track of which output in the PLC program is actual written. This could prevent rewriting all the step FB's, but there was a catch: I had to avoid the program to jump to the next step while running in manual mode. Not running the central step control FB was no option because there were outputs dependent on inputs inside the step FB's: this was a Mealy type state machine, not a Moore. Two other options remained: adding the manual condition on the next step in every step FB, but to do this I had to change every step FB. Thus remained rewriting the code of the central step control FB just to avoid stepping during in manual mode was the last option that was left. This took a day, and after implementing I hadn't any problem with it.

Then came the testing the latest code, because I had to add this manual mode code, and we had only a week left, we had to sit through testing and troubleshooting sessions until 3 a 4 o' clock each night. It involved code writing sessions at night in probably the coldest hotel room in the Ardennes near Orval in Belgium in the winter. Note that if the manual mode was not requested by project manager of the external engineering company, the project would have been finished last week. Sunday afternoon, the day before the deadline, it was ready, it was fully programmed, implemented and tested in little over 5 weeks.

Monday morning the department head of the company I was working for called me, to ask me about the state of the project. I answered that we had a lot of issues, but the project was fully implemented and working. He requested me to be on site tomorrow. The next day he wasn't on site, which wondered me. During that day I had another call with the project manager of the external firm, nothing alarming was said during that call.

That evening, I was requested at the HR department. The HR has said they have heard bad things about me, and said that I was very opinionated. Afterwards I was asking myself these questions: Didn't I complained to the project manager of the external company the requested manual mode was not requested in advance and because of this I had to rewrite the step control FB? Didn't I explained to her I had to change the step control FB for allowing the manual mode to function? Why didn't the department head asked my take on what has happened? Why was the deadline placed just a day before the end of my 6 month trail period? Why didn't the department head assigned a project manager on this project in the first place?

Some observations: I'm pretty sure the department head didn't read my code because: I've made my decision to rewrote this step control FB under high time pressure and the changes could be reversed in a heartbeat. I'm literally talking about 1 page of AWL code! I didn't inform him and all changes were on my laptop only until the last day he wasn't in the office. In addition of that I remember an instance the department head reviewed my code very shallowly where he spend max 10 seconds on and another instance he handled this 5 week job, he told he could do this in a weekend. This was definite the worst employer I have ever worked in my career. He provided with no mentor ship and just used me to enter thousands of lines of boring code.

This events made me to reconsider my career. Most likely I was only hired just to do the boring entry stuff to offload work. Clearly the real intention of this way of programming was to made it very easy to replace someone on a dime and this was very easy in PLC programming. The automation field is a field that is very conservative: that main concern companies have with PLC technology is their reliability and availability. Companies will rather stick to an expensive PLC technology (hint: Siemens) that has shown to be reliable, and to be available not only in replacement parts, but also I number of programmers. A lot of PLC programmers are just technicians, and are just needed for maintenance of existing infrastructure. This would imply that I have to compete with a lot of people willing to work at a lower wage. This was obvious not the best environment to work in, so I decided to change to another field.

I decided to change to change to the networking field. The Internet was just starting to take off and become popular, and this was an exciting new field with new technologies which were becoming dominant: TCP/IP, Cisco, Web browsers, firewalls, Linux, Windows NT, proxy servers, Exchange, email.

I applied for a starter job at a translation company, where I have managed it's network and servers top-to-bottom. Within 2 weeks I had a new job and with better pay. The day I solicited for the job, I still remember the moment I entered the entrance hall of the building: I saw the building was shared by the company with another company. At the left was the logo of the translation companies name on it, but to the right…

I kid you not… (think about it, there are more than 100000 companies in our country!)

…to the right was the logo of the external engineering company I was working for last 5 months!

So imagine one year later, I met the project manager I was working with last year. I asked her what happened with the project, was all my code scrapped? She said: “no no, there were really great ideas in the code!”

Now years later when I reexamine the automation industry, I see there are these industrial PC's where a real-time kernel is running on a Windows machine, much faster than the PLC's. But when I examine the programming environment the same programming technology still applies. Some improvements were implemented (like IEC 61131-3, object oriented programming, etc…) But when I tried the screen programming I remembered the same dread when I was working on SCADA: how inflexible it was to handle the GUI elements.

Today, when I examine the professional IT world, there are all these technologies out there changing the field in a very structured way: massive leaf-spine data centers, virtualization, convergence, deduplication, docker, software defined networking, micro-segmentation, software appliances, Puppet, cloud networking and the list goes on and on. In programming Python is moving forward and is pushing programming concepts as functional programming like lambda, list comprehensions, generators, decorators, etc. New database concepts like NoSQL have emerged. Very fast development and delivery processes are used. Next generation networking technologies IoT will change the landscape even more: now you will get all these appliances that will have wireless networking build-in. And then there is there also data science and machine learning…

Compared with the IT industry, the PLC industry is lacking new programming concepts, which could change the industry tremendously. The reason is obvious, the need to maintain and service the existing installations has a higher priority than trying some new (flangled) technology and risking having no support when this technology fails. It is still a very vertical industry. So no, I am not planning to go back to PLC programming again, but for those who are willing to enter this industry, think again: “software is eating the world”. How long this continues, I don't know.


  • SB = Step Block / Baustein, is the finite state programming blocks of the Siemens PLC environment
  • Actuator = An output driving a lamp, coil, motor, contactor
  • AWL = Anweisungsliste, the assembler language of Siemens PLC
  • FB = Function Block / Baustein, is a numbered function, provides AWL
  • Network = inside a PLC program a network is a organizational division, you may compare it with a page or paragraph in text.
  • MB = Merker Byte, is a 8-bit memory unit in Siemens PLC
  • OB1 = Organization Block / Baustein, is the main program loop in the Siemens PLC, called 100's times per second
  • SPA = Jump to label/Block instruction
  • ACCU1/2 = two main registers used in Siemens PLC, used for (double)word operations
  • Indirect instruction = a value is preloaded into ACCU1 and replaces the 0 value of the next instruction, eg B MW 200, SPA FB 0, means jump to FB block number where the value is located in MW 200

5 Keys to Engineering Success

Five Keys to Engineering Success
Every young engineer wants to have a successful career ahead of them. Unfortunately for us, as “millennials”, whatever that means to you, there is far more competition for that same success. 50% of our workforce today is someone between 18-35 so you need to stand out and differentiate yourself from others in order to grab these opportunities and rise to the top of your industry. Today it is not enough to solely have a degree from a good school, accumulate some experience, and maybe have a solid reference list. This Top Five Tips for Engineering Success will boost your path to stardom in your field, differentiate you from other professionals, and help dominate your industry.

Mindset
Mindset is everything in this world. I'll reference Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, and author of “Mindset”. Mindset is the foundation of accomplishment. Many people strive to stick to what they know already, rather than to grow and learn, which is challenging. This is a fixed mindset vs a growth mindset, which is what you should adopt for maximum success. Fixed mindset results in avoiding challenges, giving up easily on obstacles, refraining from maximum effort, ignoring constructive criticism, and feeling threatened by the success of others. However, a growth mindset individual will embrace challenges, persevere through tough obstacles, view effort as the gateway to mastery, accept constructive criticism, and feel inspired by the success of others. You cannot reach your full potential unless you are constantly improving, pushing yourself to be better, and doing things outside your comfort zone. That new coding methodology may be hard to learn, but in the end, you will be a stronger programmer afterwards.

Belief
In order to achieve a goal, a requirement for success is to start with the end in mind. Envision yourself crossing the finish line- the utmost belief, conviction, that you WILL succeed in accomplishing your goal. Let’s break this down into a more simplified manor, for example, when are interviewing for a new position. If you begin the day thinking “I probably won’t get the job”, then you most likely will not. This negativity will slightly alter all your behaviors: the confidence in your tone, the warmth in your eye contact, the energy in your communication gestures – everything. Believe that you WILL tackle the challenge, that you will absolutely own the interview, and every action during your day will follow suit positively and effectively.

Attitude Attraction
Everyone wishes they could be a 10/10, be taller, more fit, better hair and eyes – you name it. It’s actually super simple to be more attractive to everyone around, and though it takes attention and effort, anyone can do it. Tony Robbins provides this example in his talks, and it’s all about being more positive! Negativity is a cancer. Complaining and being a pessimist helps nothing in life. No one wants to be around someone negative. Since your energy and attitude and emotion radiates around each of us like an aura, you are naturally more attractive to be around when you are positive and optimistic. People want to talk with you, want to spend more time with you, and want to give you more career opportunities because of your attitude.

Environment
Jim Rohn said that you are an average of the five people you spend the most time around, and I 100% agree with him! We’re all raised with the parental concern about friends who may be “bad influences” and how our older siblings need to be a “positive role model”. However, it’s rare for adults to think about these stereotypically adolescent lessons. If goes without saying once you realize it, but if you spend more time around doers, executioners, go-getters, and so on, the chances of you following suit on similar actions is way higher! We as humans are easily influenced by our surroundings, so spend more time around people who are productive, ambitious, and trying to be the best career individual they can be. It will help you do more too!

Headspace
We are decades into the physical health wave, about ten years into the healthy eating wave, and the current trending health paradigm is mental health! The word still carries heavy social stigma, i.e. if you use it people naturally think things like “nutcase”. However, headspace definitely needs to be talked about more nowadays. We live in an era of stress and information overload – giving your brain a break should become a part of everyone’s daily routine. It’s now scientifically proven that meditation helps to: reduce stress, enhance focus, improves listening ability, helps you sleep, and overall improves happiness 😊

5 Ways You Can Help Students Learn Math & Science

5 Ways You Can Help Students Learn Math & Science

Nowadays, STEM education drives public schools’ curriculum decisions. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2015 national report card, the majority (up to 72%) of America’s public school 8th graders performed at the basic levels in reading, math, and science.

To address the poor academic performance in these areas, schools augment professional development to increase capacity and improve instruction and learning in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Teachers engage in STEM cohorts where they learn from engineers, mathematicians, researchers, and scientists. Such cohorts are designed to increase teachers’ application of STEM strategies in the classroom for expanded understanding of the taught skills and concepts.

STEM strategies are designed to help teachers and students identify the reasons behind the processes and applications.  Here are five ways engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and technology experts can collaborate with schools to help students learn more math and science:

 

  • Build a relationship with your local school district and neighborhood school. Introduce yourself to your local school board, superintendent, administrators, secretaries, teachers, and other school employees. All school employees serve as liaisons to school leadership, so foster cordial relationships with as many as you can.

  • Offer to serve your local school district and/or school by volunteering on science, technology, math, and science curriculum committees. Your experience, knowledge, and training may benefit schools with curriculum decisions, textbook adoptions, and professional development ideas.

  • Volunteer to tutor students in a before or after school STEM program. Tutoring is an authentic, valuable intervention model, especially tutoring programs that track instructional methods and student progress. Talk to your local school administrator about serving as a STEM tutor.

  • Determine your level of commitment.
    1. Are you available for the entire school year? A semester? A quarter? What days and times will you tutor?
    2. What do you want your students to learn?
    3. How will you know they are learning?
    4. What will you do if they are not learning?
    5. What will you do if they are learning quickly?

  • Offer to present to teachers at professional learning opportunities. Through your school liaison, discover ways in which you can use your expertise to serve the teachers in your local school. Talk to your school administrator to discover the professional development planning process. If there is room for you to serve there, commit to developing and implementing a session to train teachers on STEM techniques and concepts.

Middle school Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) teacher Rachel Kissner, MA, believes students learn best from role models directly related to STEM and STEAM. “Students need to see how engineers help people and society. Often in grades K-12, science and engineering are taught as something outside of society, like Spock in Star Trek. When students see how scientists and engineers affect their world and make it a better place, they are more likely to engage in the content and start seeing themselves as part of the science and engineering community.”

 

Students need to improve reading, math, and science knowledge. You can help students make real-world connections to the learning processes so they are able to improve their decision-making in real-life and on high-stakes standardized tests.  Your involvement in the learning process can make a positive impact on student learning and could help students feel more confident about their abilities in STEM.

By Lynn Daniel, Ed.S.

References

U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2015.

Digital Thoughts: Top 5 Reasons Digital Marketing Trumps Traditional.

Digital Thoughts: Top 5 Reasons Digital Marketing Trumps Traditional. 

Reason 1: It's more personally tailored

The world of digital is moving us away from pesky ads that have nothing to do with our own lives; boring ads, dumb ads, ads that you don't want to see.The power of digital brings with it the ability to target ads in a way that can actually be beneficial to you. I know, right? Ads you want to see? It seems bizarre, but it's not. It's digital, and it's the future. It doesn't just work in one direction, either. That is, you can tell Google, Facebook and other platforms what you want to see, and what you don't. The more you use this feature, the better it works.

Reason 2: It makes Marketer's Jobs Much Better

Okay, so you might not be a marketer, (or maybe you are) but you still benefit from this! Here's why: Digital takes a huge amount of the guess work out of targeting and running campaigns because we already have so much data to work with. This means that we can show ads that are relevant to you and your life. More specifically to marketers themselves, the amount of detail available to them also contributes not only to the efficiency of targeting campaigns, but also to the overall experience.

Reason 3: Better Integration of Data and Campaigns

Digital allows for the seamless integration of data between avenues of collection, and campaigns. This means more time can be spent doing the real thing. For example, Google Analytics allows for all of your means of measurement and collection to be integrated in one place. Sweet.

Reason 4: Less Financial Risk

As digital marketers, we have access to large amounts of great data. This means when we spend money on campaigns, we have a better idea going in of how it will perform. Further, cost-per-click campaigns don't require massive amounts of money to be spent, so digital marketers can afford to be a bit testy. Marketers can tell relatively quickly the performance of any given campaign, and can be constantly optimizing it. This is something that's just not possible when running a billboard ad campaign.

Reason 5:  Versatility and adaptability

 With more advanced and sophisticated technology comes the ability to market in different ways. This is how digital is versatile. No longer are marketers confined to a few different avenues of campaigning; social media, email, ppc, inbound marketing and more all come together to create a versatile and adaptable platform that can be leveraged to the max.

Guest written by Braeden Matson-Jones

http://www.braeden-matson-jones.com/

Know Your Worth: A Better Salary Negotiation

What are the odds?

A better salary is at stake!

For new competitive grads, negotiating a better salary with little to no experience is a bit hardcore.

It’s a move only the strong-willed can pull off. Sure.

But most fresh grads are discouraged to negotiate for one reason: No Experience.

This mindset is downright insulting. In fact, the art of negotiating is a skill only a few are entitled with and a move for professionals to make a way beyond positions. It does have its perks.

These are some of what negotiation can do:

• Uncover real interests
• Build up relationships
• Prove commitments
• Encourage communication
• Open up alternatives

This statistics below may encourage you perhaps.

Source: NSCS Talks Secrets & Strategies

 

Here’s what you should do:

 

1. Know Your Price

How can you name the price if you do not know your worth?

If you are confident enough of your skill set and you know your price, you can hope at the very least, but not expect that you can be hired for a salary that you think you are worth.

You got to remind yourself that every employer is different. Their needs vary over time. But you yourself can be consistent.

There’s this saying that goes:

“Believe you deserve it and the universe will serve it.”

Don’t hold back.

 

2. Make Your Case

“Why are you an asset to the company? What makes you the best candidate among all others? What is your edge over the others?”

These are a few lines that most employers are fond of during interviews. Cliché.

But, believe me, as simple as it sounds, these are the hardest questions to answer – The Making or Breaking Point of Your Pay!

Why? Because this is the only part where you walk the talk. The actual time employers are truly paying attention to you. The time where all eyes are set on you. Your time for intense scrutiny and actual consideration by the company.

Up for a challenge? Eyes here!

If you name what you can do far from what you can actually do to the employer, then you’re in for a nightmare. Be honest but do not play dumb by being too honest. Do not act and talk as if you are inexperienced. Show them the best version of yourself.

On a more important note, for people who have less experience or none at all, employers are most likely to ask: “How do you plan to do this? How are you planning to work this problem out? How are you going to handle those who are under your team?”

Most people get flustered by questions like these especially those with no background. Don’t be.

The secret is always to have a specific plan in mind to outperform the others – or to at least not look pathetic in front of the employers. And to shine like you are on this situation before.

One thing: Make a point for the salary you are asking for!

 

3. Give a Skyrocketing Credentials

With no experience, you have to bring the spotlight to where you shine the brightest – Your Academic Performance! Your training in the academe is the only thing you can give credits to with the knowledge and skill set you have as of the moment.

But if you don’t have an attractive school record, don’t fret. Focus on your soft skills.

Enough of trying to impress your employers with your hard skills – the specific knowledge and abilities required for the job you applied for. You are more than that, remember?

Yes. You heard me right.

Soft skills matter and employers pay a pretty good amount of attention to that. As a matter of fact, soft skills can be as important as the hard skills when it comes to performing the job.

Studies have given account to this rare phenomenon. A research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center, has all concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well-developed soft skills and people skills, and only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge (hard skills).

Here are some soft skills you may probably want to emphasize during the negotiation:

• Good Work Ethic
• Team Player
• Communication Skills
• Ability to Handle Constructive Criticisms
• Ability to Work Under Pressure
• Adaptability/Flexibility
• High Emotional Intelligence
• Positive Attitude

This is a definite deal breaker! These are the skills you actually need to continue what you are capable of doing! Employers should realize that!

Now it’s time to prove that soft skills aren’t so soft after all!

 

4. Live Up to Your Potential

There is no denying the fact that salary is one very important part of the equation. If all else fails, let me remind you that having your salary negotiation off the table is not the end.

It’s a perfect time for you to prove the person you are confident about during the interview.

If none of these tips work out for you, don’t lose your chance to become better. By being better, you can become great. By being great, a huge salary awaits you.

Instead of being too hard on yourself for not getting what you think you deserve, optimize your potential at work and with what the company has to offer you!

Reminder:

If you put in the work, you deserve a reward.

Keep hustlin!

 

The Bottom Line: Accept what you think you deserve.

Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preferences.

No one is putting too much pressure on anyone to get a very competitive salary right the very first time. If you think you can live with the pay, accept it. If you don’t, leave it. Go for an alternative which has a better offer. Doesn’t sound very hard, right?

It’s an open field right there. You have all the right to collect and select. You have the power to choose which offer is best for you.

But by pitting job offers against one another, you have to remember three things:

• Think beyond the cash.
• Respect the offer.
• Be confident, but not bragging.

Remember, getting a job with a non-negotiable salary is better than not getting a job at all!

Your choice!

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