RE: Engineering notebooks?

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From: Antoun Nabhan (
Date: Fri Dec 01 2000 - 14:15:29 PST

At 11:36 AM 12/1/00 -0800, Lisa Dusseault wrote:
>Thoughts on keeping notes:
> - Hate not being able to remember whether I put something in mail or in
>.txt file. Wish I could search them together!

Isn't this what Enfish's Tracker is supposed to be for? My ghetto method
for handling that problem is to send email to myself and then use Eudora to
search all the archive's.

>Thoughts on requiring engineering class members to keep notes:
> - Is this really something that engineering students have to be _taught_?
>I would easily agree that engineers ought to be able to write
>specifications, architecture descriptions, proposals, reports, etc. My
>personal suggestion here, after talking to a couple eng'g profs about this,
>would be to require eng'g majors to pass a written-communication challenge
>exam or be required to pass an English course with basically the same exam.

Hooboy. I gotta disagree with you here. I've worked with a number of
engineers, at every level of experience, who just didn't even realize that
a notebook was necessary for patent purposes, resist the notion that they
should keep even the most rudimentary dated notes, and have no clue what
should go in the notes if they were to keep them. (Again, I'm not endorsing
any facet of the patent system, but I do have to operate in the current
environment, and I can't think of any venture-funded company that has
managed to dodge the requirement.) It would be really nice if students had
some instruction in why and how to keep such a notebook; it turns out to be
more difficult to persuade why and teach how than you might think. Or at
least difficult enough to annoy me!

> - Why should a lab notebook be a requirement for a course -- the course
>presumably doesn't test or teach communication skills in general?

(Thump! goes the dead horse!) To teach good habits. We expect student's
papers to be proofread & grammatical even in courses that aren't called
"grammar and punctuation," and I think the same reasoning applies in both

But maybe I'm a big tool, eh?

Antoun Nabhan * "We don't have $6 billion in cash [like Cisco]. * We're barely eking out an existence."
617.901.8871 * - Mike Moritz, gen.ptr. at Sequoia Capital

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