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You can do everything right and still fail

News   2021-02-02 07:56:32

You can do everything right and still fail Originally posted by Nishad Jamaldeen on As engineer , I fell prone much more often that I don "t want to admit it. The positive side, if there ever was any, is that I always knew why. It usually comes down to not taking all aspects into consideration, to rule out potential pitfalls or "hope" things don"t go wrong. At least there is a way to rectify the outcome if it ever happens again. But what happens when you do all you can? and that thes things go wrong? It is probably one of the greatest woes of living in the interconnected ecosystem that we call society. Given our dependence on each other, it is possible to do everything right, but still fail. And not only fail, but be the direct consequence of that failure. This summer, I was building a robot as part of the UBC Engineering Physics experiment. And it was an experience - with everything from team disagreements and unorthodox concept design to major design pivots midway through an already rushed five week schedule. The effort culminated in a competition in which the robots had to perform a series of tasks autonomously. As the final weeks of our calendar approached and many iterations removed from our original concepts a little over a month ago, we laughed.our robot has been greatly strengthened, simplified and tested to guarantee its reliability. Two nights before the competition, we got it right - we had it all worked out, every time. Over the next day and a half, every component of our robot performed as expected. We had a list of the most likely reasons we might fail and we worked to mitigate those risks. Everything from our robot arm not working, to our robot not being able to correctly follow the path it needed to follow, to the inability to retrieve the items it needed to retrieve were among our concerns. Several successful tests later, we did. "called one night and we headed to thecompetition, filled with a certain assurance of our final product. Surprisingly, the issues we anticipated in the last few hours of development and testing did not occur. We arrived on the morning of the competition. Out of superstition, we refused to continue testing it until the last minute. Previous iterations of the competition featured stories of teams "overtaking" to the point where their bots failed. With the intention of not taking this route, we patiently waited for the competition. When we were on the surface for our turn, we were ready and confident. At the very least, we expected a successful execution, similar to the many attempts that culminated in the previous one or two days ago. The bell having rung, we flipped the switch to start our robot. There was a delay between powering on andcarrying out the necessary tasks. With everything in place, we waited for it to start. And we waited. It hasn"t started. We quickly regrouped, checking our gears to see if they had locked together. We checked to see if something was preventing the engine from running. None of this was obvious. Everything we had built worked as it should - except for the fact that our robot was not moving. Once we got to the rear, we dislodged our wheels to find that the engine was broken. The very engine that we had received with all the other teams in the competition had failed. It was the first time during the nearly five-week design cycle that an engine had not been running. The first time the engine broke was the morning of the competition. It was a difficult pill to swallow. Countless tests, many iterations and quite a fewImplementations of our design had been resisted by our engines - until when it mattered most. In retrospect, this could be sa id that the potential for engine failure was something we should have grown weary of. We could have made the engine change easier and replaced it with a more functional engine in the given context. Yet the engine was considered a constant; it was used by all crews, had withstood years of use before even handling them, and was widely accepted as reliable. Given the almost negligible likelihood of a risk such as engine failure, identifying it as a risk would have been a challenge. This probably would have required us to observe the malfunction during testing before realizing it was a possibility that required treatment. Unfortunately for us, the first time we witnessed the pitfall, it was during the competition. In the process, it made us wonder - if we had tested later that night, did we identify the failure? Of course, reflecting on this path is a dangerous road that will never see an end. A cut-off point had to be established, and choosing one after many successful tries made sense. Was that fair? Despite the almost endless hours of designing, testing and rehearsing, something that was accepted as out of our control drove the first, the one and the last nail into our coffin. It doesn"t matter whether it"s fair or not. In the end, our robot failed to do what It had to do, and The team I was on lived with the consequences of that failure. Thanks for taking the time to read my opinions! The robot thate we ended up designing as well as the details of the competition are located here on our Roberto Project page . You can learn a bit more about my life as an engineering physics student with a particular interest in entrepreneurship at nishadjamaldeen.com .