Categotry Archives: Engineering

Women engineers face discrimination, but not in the way you think

Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day and as such I received a company-wide email from the bowels of HR telling me I should respect women for the job they do.  Which I thought I already did, but obviously not. I met up for lunch with a former colleague of mine who now works for another company, an intelligent, pleasant, and competent female engineer.  In the morning she had been called together with other female engineers in her office by one […]


If a farmer receives a call from a neighbor that one of his sheep has escaped and is standing in the road, he will go out, fetch the sheep, and put it back in the field where it belongs.  Most likely the farmer will then make a tour of the hedgerows and fences to see where the sheep got out, and close up the hole when he finds it.  Certainly, if he gets two such calls about his sheep standing […]

Max Fordham: rent-seeking since 1966

A downside of writing about oil and gas affairs is being spammed by people who write articles about “energy”.  One such example received over the holidays was a link to the predictions for 2016 of somebody by the name of Max Fordham, a building engineer who “started his own practice in the spare bedroom of his Camden home” in 1966.  Good for him.  Let’s see what he thinks will happen in 2016. 1. Infrastructure-scale solutions to climate change Governments will […]

In Reply to Young PETE

Commenter Young PETE has asked me a couple of questions in the comments under the previous post, and I have decided to answer them in a post of its own.  First, YP’s comment: I stumbled upon your website and have been reading your posts for the past few hours, and agree with practically all of it. One of the common trends you discuss within majors is technical ineptitude and lack of integrity/character on a junior level, which evolves to middle […]

What hundred year war?

Further to this post, there is another way in which people tend to misuse numbers, oil company employees included. Supposing you see three cakes in the window of a bakery: a fruit cake, a sponge cake, and a chocolate cake.  How would you go about estimating the quantity of sugar in each, assuming you’d want to?  One way would be like this. You take a quick estimate of the size of each cake, and work out the volume of each […]

Double Hull, Double Standards

There’s something a bit odd about this whole Pieter Schelte business: Allseas Group president Edward Heerema said late Friday that the company would change the name of the giant platform installation and removal vessel Pieter Schelte after an uproar over the Nazi ties of the ship’s namesake. The twin hull unit, billed as the the world’s largest marine vessel, was christened after Heerema’s late father, Pieter Schelte Heerema – a Dutch pioneer of the offshore construction industry who also served […]

Mean Numbers

Years ago, when I was still in school, my chemistry teacher gave me a bollocking.  Not for blowing up the school, burning a hole in a textbook, or squirting people with a pipette but for implying an accuracy that was not there. Eh? Yes, that was my first reaction too.  Here’s what I did. I had taken five measurements as follows (don’t ask me what of, or the units): 3.4 / 4.2 / 3.9 / 2.8 / 3.1 And presented […]