“My god – I’m seventy years old. What the hell have I done with my life?”
The question, at that moment, struck me like a thunderbolt – with the realization that, on that fateful morning, “I’d better have a damned GOOD answer!!!” Well, that day did in fact arrive, and the question has truly haunted me ever since. Its answers, of course, is, in fact, the proper response to your question. Fortunately, for the sake of my own sanity, not to mention self-respect, I think I can honestly offer an acceptable response.
In today’s universe of “specialized” engineering, not many people can claim, as I can, to have designed and fabricated a complete five-line commercially-practical slot machine, and in the process to have personally created the electronic logic, the case design, the graphics, the reels symbols, and all of the electro-mechanical structures needed for successful performance, and to have personally assembled the initial prototype machine.
In the same context, during my employment at Thor Electronics, I successfully created an in-line cable selector switch, starting with the development of the initial structural concept, performing all phases of design and engineering, through to the development of the assembly and testing stations and all of the special equipment needed for a successful production. Three-thousand of these devices were fabricated and delivered to the United States Marine Corp., in which hands they effectively performed in battlefield conditions, including service in the First Gulf War, with a product failure rate of less than 1/10 of one percent.
At the outset of a term of contract-employment at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, my passion for model-building won me an appointment to a special position, not previously held by anyone at that facility. From a standing start, over a span of two years, I successfully founded the industrial model shop which functions to the present day. In addition to organizing the groundwork for this department, a major part of my efforts were spent in building precision miniature and scale models for the Mirror Fusion Reactor Experiment, involving up to a dozen large scale constructions.
While employed at Ocean Design, in Daytona Beach, Florida, I was commissioned to single-handedly develop a device which was to be operated on the ocean floor, at up to two miles of depth, by a remote sub-oceanic vehicle with only a single manipulator arm. The operation to be performed by the ROV was to engage and/or separate deep submersible electrical connectors (mounted to separate cables) which weighed up to twenty pounds, had a mating and dis-mating force requirement of roughly seventy pounds, were about five inches in diameter and (when mated) were up to twenty inch in length. As with earlier engineering efforts, I was obliged to create the initial concept, in a totally mechanical configuration, to then design and document the entire structure, and finally, without assistance (beyond outside machining facilities) fabricate the completed prototype assembly myself. The project was entirely successful and was performed within the specified time and cost requirements.