Sunday, January 27, 2019

A Hispanic Engineer Talks to Young People

I have made four videos where I talk to young people about engineering . Below are the links to the YouTube videos.
  1. Hispanic Robert Canright on the Good in Engineering
  2. Hispanic Robert Canright on the Bad in Engineering.   
  3. Hispanic Robert Canright on the Ugly in Engineering.  
  4. Hispanic Robert Canright on How to Prepare for Engineering.

In the last video I recommended young people read books.  I only mentioned recreational books.  But there are some books about engineering that are entertaining or educational.  Here is a short list.
  1. The Soul of A New Machine by Tracy Kidder.  This is an outstanding book that gives an insider's view of how a new computer is designed
  2. Getting Sued and Other Tales of the Engineering Life by Richard Meehan.  This book is published by MIT Press and MIT is one of the premier engineering schools
  3. The Existential Pleasures of Engineering, 2nd Edition by Samuel C. Florman.  
I have read all of these books and recommend them. I have not read the following book, but it looks pretty good.  The Design and Engineering of Curiosity: How the Mars Rover Performs Its Job by Emily Lakdawalla.  One of the book reviewers posted pages from the book to show it has lots of pictures and illustrations.  "Curiosity" is the name of a large roving robot we put on Mars.  That is a big deal.
Anyone interested in computer programming should read The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, 2nd Edition by Frederick P. Brooks Jr.  Here is a link to an obituary of a successful engineer:  Harold Chestnut, The accomplishments and life of Harold Chestnut, 1917-2001.  This webpage on Dr. Chestnut has a couple of interesting videos.  This is worth reading and viewing.  He was an electrical engineer.  He also wrote a couple of books on systems engineering.  Not many engineers are this successful, but it gives you an idea of how much can be done in an engineering career.  On the right hand side of this web page is a list of accomplished engineers, dozens of them, and there is a hyper-link to each on.  Thomas Edison is on the list!  This set of web pages is maintained by the Edison Tech Center.

If you are a young person thinking about engineering, I hope my videos are helpful to you.

Robert Canright

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Death and Drugs

Today's Plano Star Courier, December 28, 2017, described in its front page article how a 17 year old boy from Plano West, Brett Adkins, was shot dead in Irving while selling marijuana [1].  That is one death.  Last year over 20,000 people died in Mexico from drug related violence.  This last statistic is from Mexico’s Record Violence Is a Crisis 20 Years in the Making by  MAX FISHER and AMANDA TAUB (New York Times, OCT. 28, 2017).  This New York Times article says this year, 2017, is on track to set a new record for drug related deaths in Mexico.

This article describes how Columbia drove their drug cartels out of their county, but they just moved to Mexico.  Now the ordinary people of Mexico are suffering from violent crime.  This article says, "Drug trafficking required resources and infrastructure that the new groups lacked, leading many to turn to kidnapping, theft and extortion. Predatory crimes spiked.  Ordinary Mexicans, once bystanders to the conflict, became its targets at a moment when the state had left them vulnerable."

This article, Mexico’s Record Violence Is a Crisis 20 Years in the Making , says that wide spread corruption and incompetence in the Mexican police, judges, mayors, and governors has crippled any effort to combat drug related violence.

I wonder if the marijuana that killed Brett Adkins came from Mexico?  I also wonder whether Americans quitting  illegal drugs from Mexico would save 20,000 Mexican lives per year.

I believe Americans using recreational drugs are killing Mexicans.  Certainly corruption and incompetence in the Mexican government leave the people of Mexico suffering and dying.  But if Americans quit using drugs, drug trafficking to America would stop and the drug cartels would be out of business.

Why has no politician from Mexico or the U.S.A. tried to shame Americans for killing Mexicans with their self-centered drug consumption?  Do they think Americans are shameless?  Americans need to be reminded that when they use marijuana, cocaine, or heroin that they are essentially murdering Mexicans.  I have been waiting for years for someone to speak up.  Why do I have to say it?  Why the silence?


1. Plano teen shot in drug deal gone wrong  by Kelsey Samuels

Friday, December 25, 2015

Remembering Spanish

I came to America as a small child, speaking only Spanish.  My parents were both fluent in Spanish (my mother was Mexican), but they spoke English in America and I quit speaking Spanish at some point.  I lost the language and can no longer speak Spanish, but I still have a memory of it.  When I was in Pecos, Texas, recently a lady in a  restaurant commented that I was having a conversation in English with the Mexican lady serving the food.  She found it curious that I could understand the serving lady speaking in Spanish and I could answer her in English, which the serving lady understood.

It was nice of the lady passing by to point out how the serving lady and I could communicate even though I did not speak Spanish and she did not speak English.  I did not really think our encounter was unusual, but maybe it was.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Memories of Mexico

I was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. as a child.  My family returned to Mexico for occasional visits while I was young.  The strongest memory I have is of a mural on the side of a building.  We drove a number of times past a building that had a mural covering the side of the building, several stories high, of an angel that carried a rifle and wore two bandoleras full of bullets, crisscrossing the chest.  The wings of the angel of the revolution were made of bayonets instead of feathers.  This made quite an impression on me as a small child.

My mother told me that her parents had to be married in secret.  The Mexican Revolution was going on and priests were hanging from the lamp posts.  The priest had to travel in secrecy to marry them, lest he be captured and hung.

My mother told me that my Abuelito, a veterinarian, was supposed to travel with a group of veterinarians to inspect cattle for hoof and mouth disease.  If cattle were deemed diseased, the whole herd would be destroyed.  My Abuelito was late and the car left without him.  The veterinarians were bushwhacked by peasants and cut to pieces with machetes.  The peasants were afraid of having their cattle destroyed and they fought back against inspections.  I was in stunned disbelief when I heard this story.  I know what machetes can do.  I saw coconuts split in half with machetes while visiting Acapulco.

My mother loved her country and found it hard to give up her Mexican citizenship to become an American, as she eventually did.  My mother told me that during the Mexican-American War, a boy cadet defending Chapultepec Castle against America invaders wrapped the Mexican flag around his body and threw himself off the castle to his death instead of surrendering his nation's flag.

Mexico has had a tough time, fighting the Americans and the French.  I am sure you know that the line in the Marines Hymn about the Halls of Montezuma was about fighting in Mexico, but did you know that one of the most famous defeats of the French Foreign Legion was in Mexico?  That was the Battle of CamarĂ³n.

Mexico is still having tough times, this time from its drug lords.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dead Weight

It has been a while since I have posted to this blog, partly because I have been saddened by the violence in Mexico.  I do feel that I should comment on an article in the New York Times:  "No Child Left Behind. Just a Demographic." by ROSS RAMSEY, published online October 6, 2012, published in the Sunday NY Times October 7 on page 27A.  Here are the key quotes from the Ramsey article:

"As of 2010, 40.4 percent of Hispanics in the state 25 and older had completed something less than a high school education....

If the numbers persist, that population will have problems operating at full potential in the Texas of the future. That’s trouble for them. It’s trouble for future employers looking for help. And it’s trouble for the next generation of well-trained, working taxpayers who will have to carry that group, either as social cases, prison cases, undertrained employees, whatever.

They will be the band that didn’t practice, the team that didn’t work out. Dead weight.

The "dead weight" comment really saddens me.  College can be hard academically and financially, but high school is tuition-free.  Having been a public school teacher I can tell you that poor attitude from parents towards education is a cancer that destroys a child's education.

Public education is vital to a child's future.  It is  not the amount of money a school district has that determines success, it is the attitude and involvement of the parents that makes the biggest impact.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Juan Rangel and a Recipe for Success

Juan Rangel is CEO of Chicago's United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) and co-chair of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's recent election campaign. He was interviewed in the Saturday, September 17, 2011 issue of the Wall Street Journal: The Masters of Hispanic Destiny by David Feith.

The UNO organization is described this way: Its premise today is that Hispanics in the U.S. are masters of their own destinies, responsible for their affairs good and bad, and duty-bound to invest in American civic life.

Some of what Mr. Rangel went on to say is very encouraging:

the central question for Hispanics to answer as they grow in number and potential political influence is: "Do we want to be the next victimized minority group in America, or do we want to be the next successful immigrant group?"

"...we're gonna play by the rules, play hard, and get ahead, and it'll be good for the country and good for our community."

Education is the key to success. Hard work is useful, but that is not enough. Every ditch digger works hard, but that does not make a ditch digger successful. Mr. Rangel promotes the importance of education.

We live in a competitive world. If we track success by ethnic group, and look at the CEO's of large American companies, it looks like the Hispanic community is being outflanked by those communities that focus on education.

Robert Canright

Reading the online version of the Wall Street Journal is tricky if you do not have a paid subscription to the online version. The trick is to reach the article through Google. Just google
masters of hispanic destiny wall street journal
and you should get a link that accesses the article.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Memories from my Abuelita's house

I took my daughter today to hear Lucia di Lammermoor Live at the MET on HD. It was a wonderful experience at my neighborhood movie theater.

I first learned to love opera in my Abuelita's house in Chihuahua. I did not know at that time that I was listening to Madam Butterfly by Puccini. I was a preschool child. My mother loved Aida by Verdi and played it in our home in America.

The music from my Abuelita's home haunted me for years. As an adult I finally realized it was the song "Un bel di" (One beautiful day) from Madam Butterfly that haunted my memories.

In was a nice thought I had in the movie theater today that my daughter is carrying on a multi-generational love of opera. I am very grateful to my Abuelita and my mother for their love of good music.

God bless you, Abuelita. I remember you fondly.