The Right Stuff

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Written by Fabrice Giuliani, CEO

Please allow me to steal Tom Wolfe’s title a few seconds to congratulate Markus Stütz, who successfully received his Doctor degree on Friday, 24th of May 2019. He did his Ph.D. at the Institute of Materials Science, Joining and Forming at TU Graz and his topic was about “On the Welding Behavior of Molybdenum and Its Alloys”.

 

 

 

Markus is among others also the designer of the siren and the fastest man in the running squad at CBOne. It is a pleasure to see him get these two small letters, namely “Dr.” that are not so easy to get at all.

Back in the last century, I was visiting a class at the doctoral school where many Ph.D. students were working on thinking workshops. The question was “What is a Ph.D.? What is a Doctor?”.

While working the question out, I visited the reasons that brought me to start a Ph.D. That I would go towards engineering and science was clear to me relatively early in life, partly because of Tintin and Tryphon Tournesol. When I entered the ESSTIN it was Material Sciences that I had in mind, which I changed to move towards Fluid Dynamics and Energy – just because I happened to like it more. Then a few things happened including its load of good luck, and there I was sitting as a first-year Ph.D. student from SUPAERO in Toulouse.

What is a doctor?

I formulated my answer as follows: a Doctor is a person trained for research, recognized for his skills to process the literature, to catch-up with the state-of-the-art and his ability to take the lead and move one step beyond. The doctor title is a seal of recognition from peers that he/she can do that. After I proposed my definition, the moderator reminded me that not everyone in the room is an engineer doing experimentation in combustion. I also remember not being that happy about the consensus definition at the end of the day: “A doctor is a soldier fighting on the fields of knowledge or expertise, somebody who knows what defeat is”. The Ph.D. students in psychology had won the cup apparently... Well, as long as the soldier survives and gets a few victories too, I could live with that. 

I kept this question in mind over time, until I came to read this quote from Norman Mailer in his excellent book “Of a fire on the moon”, and I found peace. 

 

Here is the quote:

“So it is with physics and engineering.

Physics is the church, and engineering the most devout sinner.

Physics is the domain of beauty, law, order, awe, and mystery of the purest sort.

Engineering is partial observance of the laws, and puttering with machines which never work quite as they should work.

Engineering, like acts of sin, is the process of proceeding boldly into complex and often forbidden matters about which one does not know enough - the laws remain to be elucidated -

but the experience of the past and hunger for the taste of new experience attract one forward.”

Norman Mailer, Of a Fire on the Moon, 1970

 

A crystal clear definition of what science is, and what engineering is. A doctor in technical sciences should be able to move at ease in both worlds, and I am convinced that for this, Dr. Markus Stütz has the Right Stuff!