Monday, March 9, 2009

Proof of concept

To an engineer, there's nothing better than doing something that's never been done. That's why The Wright Brothers and Lockheed's Skunk Works are the Beethoven and Beatles of engineering, and Cessna isn't even a cover band.

The proof of concept is the fun part of the tedious project, and the part that engineering and management both agree should be done first—failure isn't just considered, it's planned for. These greenfield projects where occasional failures, lack of usability, and the chance to do something [relatively] cool are what drive engineers. That said, the hastily-weighed shortcuts taken along the way lead to more headaches than fun the original concept brought, but that's tomorrow; the proof-of-concept is due today.

Poor engineers. As glorious as a successful proof-of-concept can be, they can't see a few short days into their future where they're destined to fix problems in a design that was never meant to be used. C'est la vie.

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