Engineering My Life – Volleyball and Communication

Mechanical EngineeringContributed by Pam Schumacher, Mechanical Engineering Technology Instructor – Globe University and NTI School of Technology

In order for proper communication, it is so important for everyone to speak the same language.  In engineering, we have standards for drawings and dimensioning called ANSI.  We teach ANSI standards in all of our Engineering Drafting & Design classes at Globe University and NTI School of Technology.  It is so important to learn these standards, so everyone can use the same language and the drawings are not confusing.  For dimensioning and tolerancing, GD&T has its own language to communicate tolerances and how the part is to be inspected.  For correct production of the part, the rules for ANSI and GD&T always have to be followed.

My example from everyday life:  My husband and I (both engineers) have three daughters who have all played or currently play Junior Olympic Volleyball (club volleyball).  If you are a volleyball parent, you know this means countless hours on the sidelines watching sometimes up to 15 games in a day.  Often on a Saturday my husband and I would be at separate venues, each watching a daughter with her team.  We want to stay informed of games, scores, etc.  so we text one another the scores a few times per game.

Before I continue, let me explain a little about what we were watching. In JO Volleyball the teams play games to 25 points.  Most often, they play a match (or set) of games against an opponent, the winner of two out of three games is the winner of the match.  During a tournament, in pool play, you typically play 3 matches against three different opponents (up to 9 games of pool play).
This is what our texts looked like:

We have a family plan with unlimited texting, but you get the idea of how confusing it got.  We needed a common language for how we were going to communicate scores properly so we could spend less time texting, more time watching.

Here are the rules we set up:    

1.  Matches are the first as a number. 
2.  Game is next, first game is A, second game is B, third one is, of course, game C.
3.  Score is next – always using two digits (preceding zero if score is below 10).  Most importantly – OUR SCORE IS ALWAYS FIRST – winning or losing.

So the same conversation can now look like this:

The next Kaizen (continuous improvement) step was noticing that it was not necessary to always put 2A or 1A in front of all texts since we knew that games go to 25 points (except for game C which only goes to 15).  We added a small change to rule #2 to lean the process.

2(revised). Game is next, first game is A, second game is B, third one is, of course, game C.  After first text of game with match and game designation, the subsequent text only needs the score.

Kaizen is a Japanese word for improvement – concepts that we teach in quality and lean manufacturing classes in our Mechanical Engineering Technology program at NTI. 

Now my husband and I can spend more time watching the game – less time with confusing texts!

Contributed by Pam Schumacher