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Suspension and degrees

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Apr 25, 2000
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#1
Ok folks.... I saw in a thread here that someone was trying to dog on Jer for not haveing a specific type of engineering degree. As a person with a engineering degree I'd like to address this subject for the masses.

ONE Doesn't need to be an engineer to be EXCELLENT at Suspension! Infact, engineering degrees are far too much theory and not enough practice. And, practice makes perfect...

Now, would a understanding of some math and physics help? Sure. Is it necessary? NO. Does Jer, with a Geo degree have that? ABSOLUTELY! Infact, some of the most technical people I've delt with have Geo degrees.

Moreover, most of the truely excellent suspension designers don't have engineering degrees. Paul Turner, who started RockShox and hooked up with Steve Simmons, doesn't have a engineering degree. He is considered one of the most innovative suspension guy ever.

I could go on and on about the people in the suspension industry that are OUTSTANDING and don't have degrees. However, I couldn't go on and on about the people that do have degrees in Engineering that are outstanding.

Bottom line. Jer seems to know his stuff. And, if the stuff works for you VERY well-- then that's all the proof you need.
 

Vic

***** freak.
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#2
That's the point that I was trying to make in that thread.
My dad has no degree, but was very successful and well known in his field, acquiring several patents along the way. He designed and built glass tempering systems that became the standard of the industry.
I don't think that any of his competitors ever questioned his lack of a degree, they were too busy trying to copy his designs.
 
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#3
Originally posted by Vic:
I don't think that any of his competitors ever questioned his lack of a degree, they were too busy trying to copy his designs.
Eric seems to run into the same problem
 

Vic

***** freak.
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#4
Rich- I guess it's more lucrative to spend more time on marketing while others do the innovating.
 
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#5
Ohh -- and for the record, Eric Gorr's stuff ROCKS!! His craftmanship is OUTSTANDING! His prices are very fair and he's a nice guy to boot....

Jeeezzz

Me: I think being just a little bit of a prick sometimes prevents me from getting a deadly sickness. Think about it.. all the super nice people get nasty cancers.... So.......
 
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Eric Gorr

Engine Builder
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#6
Engineering education in this country is starting to come around to the motorsports business. Lou Fowler from Pro Action in Wisconsin sent his son to a university in North Carolina that offers a mechanical engineering degree program with an emphasis on NASCAR technology.
Right now I'm helping the guys from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with their Formula SAE racer. I'm helping with the engine but I was surprised at the resources they have available to them. The suspension team is working on the design of the linkage and damping, for the past two weekends we've been using TUF Racing's shock dyno on several different mountain bike shock models. Cool stuff, you don't have to enroll in college to learn it, sometimes if you're lucky you can just hang out!
 
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#7
Originally posted by Eric Gorr:
you don't have to enroll in college to learn it, sometimes if you're lucky you can just hang out!
... or just use their engineering library when they aren't looking
 

WWR

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#8
I have a AAS Autobody Technology degree, but I can tell you far more about engines than car bodies...

Also, I am in the military where those who join with at least a Bachelors degree get to be Officers, while the rest of us are Enlisted personnel. The pay gap is huge (enlisted much lower) yet I know many Enlisted people who have a much higher education now than the Officers who outrank them. For instance, an E-9 who has been in for 15 years (and since finished a Masters Degree) gets paid about the same as an O-3 (who only has a Bachelors Degree) who has been in for 5 years. The O-3 get to order the E-9 around, but who do you think is the more educated, well rounded person?

Besides, if you search in the right places on the 'Net, I heard you can find a degree real cheap. They will forge your records and mail you the diploma. It is just a matter of time before the world no longer accepts these pieces of paper that mean so little.
 
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#9
One more last comment:

From my experience what the engineering degree does is help you figure out WHY what you did worked. I haven't found it that great at predicting what will work -- but again, the why something worked after the fact.

And, you know what the two most sought after skiils are in Corp America?

A) Being creative (ie.. comming up with the ideas-- products)

B) People skills (sales -- dealing with people related problems)

I think I should shut up now!
 

slo' mo

slower than slow...
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#10
I usually tend to stay away from things when I don't have all the facts about the specific subject. Discussion on ignorant topics just makes me look ignorant, and I don't need help in that dept.
The thing that makes this site so great is everyone can contribute, but tradition asks that you at least know your subject. I am in awe of people who know anything about suspension and especially those who can help us learn about it. If you don't think the person has given a correct opinion on a thread you can feel free to jump in there with your own. Just be sure while you are graciously allowed to express your opinion there are certain rules to follow. This is not a democracy. I have never sent Okie or anyone else one dime for my using this site. I have bought shirts and attended the Spodefest because I wanted to and from that got to meet some of the coolest people on this planet. Nobody has ever questioned why I'm not a great rider or why I can't always fix my own bike. Instead I had people like MX221 and Eric and others help me out AT NO COST.
Getting back to the topic, every user has the ultimate power. If you don't like the rules, GO AWAY!!! If you're big enough to live by them then I look forward to meeting you at SF '01.
 
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#11
I have to take offense to the crack about degrees being worthless pieces of paper.

I think that a good degree from a good school with a high GPA are good indicators that a person knows how to learn. For example, I have a BS in EE from Texas A&M and graduated with a high GPA. This shows employers that I probably know a little in EE but also that I can learn new concepts.

This does not say that I need a degree to be a good engineer. It only helps to open the door. There are plenty of people without engineering degrees that can do what I do (I never use any of the Math or Physics anymore). I think the degree only helps get you your job, keeping it is another story.

I know people that have engineering jobs without degrees. It just takes longer for them to prove that they know the concepts, not that they can't.

[This message has been edited by Reeko (edited 01-03-2001).]
 
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#12
I too only have an AAS (in Electrical Engineering Technology), but, I am an Equipment Engineer for a major semi-conductor manufacturer in the Silicon Valley. It took a little while to get here, but now I have PhD's asking me for my opinions and other input. It's nice that the lack of a piece of paper doesn't exclude someone from being that which they aspire to be. I'd like to get my BSEE, but I'm just too busy with work and riding. I suppose I could cut down on the riding, buckle-down and go back to school. "NAH!"

------------------
Why? Because new bikes are just too damned expensive!
 
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#13
PT564,

You have made a very good point. An Engineering degree doesn't make one an expert in a field. It just helps in understanding the principles driving a design. Having a degree of any kind shows a high level of dedication. Others without a degree may have just as much dedication and integrity and have chosen to apply it in other directions. They deserve every bit as much respect and credit for their knowledge and efforts.

I have found that dialing in shim stacks is hard work and lots of testing. Having taken as many as 7 tries to get the performance desired on a single bike. Thought it was going to wear the threads out. It was worth it to get an appreciation for what a good suspension tuner knows and the amazing things that he can actually do.

James
 
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#14
James,

Guess what? They don't teach how to valve a shox in engineering school. You learn fluids etc... but if you really want to get good at the shim game one has to "do it"....The degree will do little if anything to make one better at this...

PT
 
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#15
Yes, I too have a Bachelors degree in ME and still choose to do my own suspension revalving. Can't say how close it comes to what a good pro would do.

I work with dozens of engineers. Many with Phd's. These guys mostly are very specialized and many have never changed a spark plug let alone rebuild an engine or shock. They're paid well and don't need to. Dynamics is a specialty within this group that few ever get involved with. Its heavy in mathematics. Guess I'm an odd one that can never seem to get the dirt out from under his fingernails. There are a few of us out here.


James

[This message has been edited by James Dean (edited 01-04-2001).]
 
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