原创 The burnt-out bulb challenge

2013-11-14 19:56 946 16 16 分类: 消费电子

Engineering is central to my relationship with my wife. That's becuase I am continually fixing everything, a trait that won her over on only our second date. It is engineering that makes the world and our relationship go round. More specifically, it's my real-world application of the problem-solving process.


In 2005 as 19-year-old college sophomores at the University of California, Irvine, my wife and I went on our second date to a party at my wife's friend's flat. A typical location for a party—a poorly decorated, sparsely furnished, sad excuse for domicile, but nevertheless, a place of freedom for kids our age. Since we had gone early to help setup, I being a college guy sat down on the couch to watch TV because I didn't cook and was therefore useless. That is, until I saw a strand of Hawaiian lights hanging in the window.


Being a lover of electricity (yep, I'm an electrical engineer), I immediately noticed that the strand was burnt out. It was a typical condition for a single strand of twinkle lights poorly maintained by college-aged youth. I asked for replacement lights and guess what, there weren't any. (When have there ever been replacement bulbs when you really needed them?) Without time to take a quick trip to Ace, Home Depot, or even CVS, me having a never-quit, stubborn attitude (another trait that helped win my wife over—cue eye-rolling), I asked if they had any tools. Another "No" along with an eyebrow furrow. Sure they're college girls, but who knows, maybe a handyman parent left a tool-box with a wire stripper and some electrical tape.


That answer still didn't stop me, so I asked for any scissors and tape and received just what I expected—a roll of Scotch tape, a pair of pink schoolgirl Fiskar scissors, and a sarcastic "good luck" (the sarcasm coming from my wife's friend).


I'm not sure if it was the stubborn guy in me or the guy trying to impress the girl, but I knowingly went against any vague recollection of electrical or UL safety codes: I cut right into the strand of lights (yes, I unplugged it first) to bypass the one light whose semi-transparent brownish tint around the base of the bulb disallowed full transmittance of the backlight I held the bulb up to. Once the wires were stripped and twirled together, I was surprised at how well the Scotch tape actually held everything together, and I did try to put a big glob of tape on there to minimise any shockage.


At the moment of truth, no fireworks, no blown fuses, just a beautifully lit strand of Hawaiian Christmas lights and a cool, demure "need anything else?" I was pleasantly satisfied by the looks of surprised amazement when the girls glanced up to a glistening decoration successfully resurrected from the dead. Triumph.


Whether it's soldering a faulty diode into the back of a supposedly broken TV, swapping car window motors so it's not an icebox driving down the freeway, or problem-solving a disappointment, my engineering training and passion for the solution keeps it all going in the right direction.


Eight years later and the journey continues.


Chris Higgins is the CEO of SparqEE, the start-up that brought you the SparqEE CELLv1.0 on Kickstarter. He is a computer and electrical engineer who loves innovating across hardware, software, systems, networking—anything that advances technology in the world.


He submitted this article as part of Frankenstein's Fix, a design contest hosted by EE Times (US).

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