Theory To Practice And Back Again

It wasn’t the exact focus of the article, but it caught my attention:

“Today, most engineering graduates lack practical knowledge about hardware. Their education focuses on theory because it explains a wide range of processes, frequently at the cost of a poor understanding of machinery.” (Brain Drains Can Be Fatal to Manufacturers,, April 2011)

For some reason, my mind raced immediately to what I consider to be the late Rodney Dangerfield’s best film work, “Back To School,” and the scene where his character (a successful but uneducated businessman, going to college to inspire his son) has a hilarious classroom confrontation with a professor (with whom he’s competing for Sally Kellerman, the love interest in the film):

As I read the rest of the article, I returned abruptly from “Fantasyland” to “The Real World” when the author got to his point: The misunderstanding that can come from reliance on theory over practice can have tragic results.  It’s especially tragic when theory is misapplied in the pursuit of greater productivity – despite best intentions, that can make the pursuit look just plain greedy.

We’ve all heard of, or maybe even experienced, situations where the best-laid plans just didn’t work in the real world.  Some are humorous, a la Mr. Dangerfield, but it’s just not funny at all when people can get hurt.  That’s why we strive to understand your operation when you call an Application Engineer at EXAIR, and not just from an efficiency standpoint.  Of course, our product lines’ focus is on optimization of your compressed air use, but safety is just as big a concern.  Our Air Operated Conveyors, Industrial Housekeeping Products, and Static Eliminators can present a real danger if used in the presence of certain (mostly explosive or flammable) materials.

And so, we ask.  We ask about your application; your product; your operating environment.  We may ask for pictures, drawings, MSDS sheets, etc.  I hope it’s readily apparent that we’re just as interested in your operation as you are – both in making it more efficient and profitable, and keeping it safe for you and yours.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax

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