Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Engineering Major = Too much Caffine + No Fun + No Sleep: (Graded blog #6, question 2)

Everything revolving around engineering involves efficiency. If efficiency lacks, the project is delayed for x amount of time or safety hazards come into the equation. When this happens, the population will either be on short terms with the engineers, and/or be in danger due to neglected safety measures. In my case, however, if efficiency lacks, another research lab will find results to the same problem before our lab discovers them.

Since the beginning of the summer, I’ve been working in a newly established research laboratory that studies how arm and eye movement neurons are correlated in the brain. These discoveries will then be used to develop/improve neural prosthetics devices. For example, these devices will hopefully be able to restore motor control to paralyzed patients.

Because our lab is only six months olds, it is our duty to design and develop the research lab itself. Each one of us (total nine) was assigned a job by our lab supervisor over the summer. These jobs varied across the board from developing code, ordering machines, organizing and designing the lab space and writing the protocol. Over the summer, everyone had to do their assigned job to develop the lab as well as the main job that they were hired to do. In order for our research lab to start up quickly everyone had to finish their assigned job as quickly as possible but to the best of their ability and with the best intentions for the research lab. Not until all equipment is order, protocol is approved, and code is developed will the lab be able to function as we all dream it will be. Thus, efficiency is key.

Every member of the lab group was constantly working to develop the lab as a whole. If one member would slack, the whole research lab would fail. The quicker the lab can get started and functioning properly, the quicker we can discover new motor correlations in the brain. Thus, our results will be able to aid the development of devices to help paralyze patients to walk again. However, the longer it takes for our research laboratory to discover results, the more time we allow for other labs to discover the same results.

I would like to point out that even though our lab supervisor was not always around the work space, every member of the research group was still working efficiently for the full day. It is everyone’s dream in the lab to discover how the brain operates which will ultimately lead to someone being able to regain motion of their limbs one day. If one person slacks off not only is he/she letting their dreams down but they are also breaking the dreams of his/her fellow research lab members. Therefore, everyone will be working efficiently because no one wants to be the person that lets everyone else down.

Accordingly, out research lab goes against Taylor. The members of our research lab don’t need authority to keep us working efficiently. What keep everyone working to the best of our ability are our dreams. We all want to be the person that find that cure and make people lives change for the better. Although our lab supervisor makes sure we are on top of our assignments and guides us in the right direction, each of our visions of the future is what keeps the drive in us to keep working efficiently. My dream, my American Dream, is my drive to be efficient, successful and to make people smile; I don’t want to see people’s mobility limited due to injury. If anything, I am my own authority. I taught myself to be efficient so I can achieve my goal.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

In the first paragraph you point out something that Taylor only occasionally acknowledges -- that efficiency is ultimately about competition, even if he doesn't like to frame it that way.

My only complaint (and a predictable one) is that you're interacting with Taylor only in a highly general way - there are specifics in his text which would have helped you here.

Your critique of Taylor or Taylorism basically shows the unsurprising fact that there are situations in which people are motivated, by themselves, to be efficient. A research lab is a good example; a more radical one, maybe, is an professor in the humanities who produces research: when you research in the humanities, you are almost always working completely by yourself, with no supervision (ever) and no interaction with colleagues doing similar work (usually).

Still, though, Taylor is writing explicitly about factories and what goes on in them: he's concerned with people who do brutal, hard physical labor for low wages (47 tons of pig iron!).

The fact that you and your colleagues are motivated has an analogue in Taylor: he himself is motivated, as her his bosses and his colleagues in scientific management. There _is_ a white collar/blue collar division in Taylor, corresponding with your experience (people in research labs are motivated in different ways than people lifting pig iron for a living) -- my main criticism is that Taylor _implicitly_ addresses some of these issues, which is why going more directly to the text would have been helpful.