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'[EE]:: Jack Gansell on R&D'
"Research is all about discovering new things"
Reading a datasheet for the first time could be research in the spirit
of above definition.
"Development is taking known ideas and using them to build products. "
No comment, but I'm sure not all guys here agree this definition.
On 12/27/07, Apptech <paradise.net.nz> wrote: apptech
On 12/27/07, Apptech <paradise.net.nz> wrote: apptech
> (The great) Jack Gansell says:
> There's no such thing as R&D.
> There's R, and there's D, and the two are completely
> separate activities.
> Worth a read.
> Somewhat to my dismay, I find myself at present unavoidably
> doing D & R :-(.
Here in Singapore we often discuss issues since mostly "R+D"
here is mostly "D" and only a litttle bit of "R". "R" is typically
done in the US or Europe (not so sure if Australia and NZ have
much "R" or not).
It is true that research type of project is very difficult to schedule.
And an almost faied project I did before was originally a development
type project but the specification was set too high and that project
became kind of "R" type. A full year project became two year plus.
Lucikly the project did come to light even though I left the company
to study in US (but I finished the hardware design and a German
intern student helped to finished the firmware I started before I left).
We developed the electronics module (FEW52/54/58) for the
LiquidPoint T31/32. It was a joined porject between
Pepperl+Fuchs and Endress+Hauser and used PIC18F872
The German student was really very good so Endress+Hauser
decided to hire him.
The power supply design was thought to be the main difficult
point (FEW54 --univeral AC/DC, FEW58: NAMUR, very low
current but with isolated push-pull converter) but I managed
to solved it quite early in the development cycle. The main
problem was the accuracy of the detection. We believed
that the specification should not be that critical, but the old
one (purely analog based) was said to have about 1% error
in normal temperature. We struggled to solve this to no
avail. Luckily finally an excellent idea from the Endress
engineers solved the problem. It still did not achieve the
original specification but it was deemed good enough to
continue the project.
With this experience, when I returned to the company
and started another seems-to-be-impossible project, we
spent time on the feasibility study and that project went
through better in terms of electronics and firmware
(not that smooth because of some mechanical
and production problems).
I was working for Pepperl+Fuchs, a Germany company.
Quality was first. Time to market was second.
Now that things seem to be changed since I worked
for a different company.
William \Chops\ Westfield
On Dec 26, 2007, at 9:46 PM, Apptech wrote:
> There's no such thing as R&D.
While philosophically I'm inclined to agree, he's
missing the point. At least in the USA, "R&D" is
a category of expenses with somewhat favorable tax
treatment, and as long as the IRS groups them together,
so will "the suits" and the annual reports, and
nothing the engineers and scientists say matters.
It's probably a good thing; I would hate to have
to figure out exactly where the dividing line was.
> Here in Singapore we often discuss issues since mostly
> here is mostly "D" and only a litttle bit of "R". "R" is
> done in the US or Europe (not so sure if Australia and NZ
> much "R" or not).
We used to have quite a lot.
But, in recent decades the drive to "useful science" has
gutted the centres of excellence which we once had. Despite
this there are small bodies of scientists still doing pure
science research on government grants and universities still
Long long ago NZers were occasionally "right up there" in
international research - although they may have ended up
leaving the antipodes / colonies to pursue their aims. The
atom having been split and all that there's less call for
that these days :-).
On 12/27/07, William Chops Westfield <mac.com> wrote: westfw
> On Dec 26, 2007, at 9:46 PM, Apptech wrote:
> > There's no such thing as R&D.
> While philosophically I'm inclined to agree, he's
> missing the point. At least in the USA, "R&D" is
> a category of expenses with somewhat favorable tax
> treatment, and as long as the IRS groups them together,
> so will "the suits" and the annual reports, and
> nothing the engineers and scientists say matters.
> It's probably a good thing; I would hate to have
> to figure out exactly where the dividing line was.
Big companies (GE/Microsoft/Intel/HP/etc) will have
dedicated research companies where researchers
do have more freedoms than "R+D" engineers.
Some of them do not need to be under the pressure
of time to market and they can develop something
which will only be useful 5-10 years down the road
or even seem to be useless.
It seems to me US companies use "Engineering"
whereas Europe/Asian companies use "R+D".
The problem is now that less and less companies
will be afford to have the dedicated big research
Singapore government is trying very hard to attract
high level researchers but so far the result is not that
good as far as I know. On the other hand, it is
quite successful to attract high-tech industry to
> It seems to me US companies use "Engineering"
> whereas Europe/Asian companies use "R+D".
There is another category, which is somewhat arguably the
very tail end of "D". It's 'J' aka "Just do it!". ie if you
can conceive of a customer-view description of a product,
then if you can work out how to make something that appears
to do this then Just do it and sell it. I'm not talking
about the pure snake oil products but the less technically
complex consumer items that stagger onto the market with no
semblance of 'development as you know it, Jim'. Longevity,
reliability, efficiency, accuracy, sensible utilisation of
battery (or other) energy and more (or less) is the norm. If
a resistor can be saved it will be and if it can't it still
will be. The market is awash with such stuff and it sells -
notwithstanding that a fair bit of it will be hard pressed
to stagger along from Christmas to the new year. What R
there may have been has been done N copies up the stream and
is long forgotten. FWIW.
William "Chops" Westfield wrote:
> On Dec 26, 2007, at 9:46 PM, Apptech wrote:
>> There's no such thing as R&D.
> While philosophically I'm inclined to agree,
I possibly may agree that in an ideal world, things would be that way, but
probably not even then.
I mean, if you really separate R and D the way he does, that would mean
that there is a time when you have nothing more to learn about your
project. That's a pretty arrogant proposition, IMO, and not useful.
For me, it's all about the right measure. Sure you need to do some research
for many projects before starting, but invariably there's a point where you
have to stop researching and start designing -- and invariably that point
comes /before/ you know it all. (In my case, usually a project gets
delivered before I know it all... :) So after finding out ("researching")
the main parts, you start working on solutions ("developing"), and go back
and forth as needed. Who never has "researched" data sheets for suitable
products /while/ "developing" a solution?
IMO any engineering activity contains both elements, to varying degrees.
Even when researching for a project, there's most of the time at least half
an eye on possible, practical solutions (that is, development). And when
developing a project, there's usually quite a bit of detail research (about
all those things where "'new' might mean new to us but not to the world"
|At 02:31 AM 12/27/2007, you wrote:
>"Research is all about discovering new things"
>Reading a datasheet for the first time could be research in the spirit
>of above definition.
>"Development is taking known ideas and using them to build products. "
>No comment, but I'm sure not all guys here agree this definition.
This is the kind of definition I like, from the Mandarins in Ottawa:-
(SR&ED stands for Scientific Research and Experimental Development)
Work that qualifies for SR&ED tax credits includes:
* experimental development to achieve technological advancement
to create new materials, devices, products, or processes, or improve
* applied research to advance scientific knowledge with a
specific practical application in view;
* basic research to advance scientific knowledge without a
specific practical application in view; and
* support work in engineering, design, operations research,
mathematical analysis, computer programming, data collection,
testing, or psychological research, but only if the work is
commensurate with, and directly supports, the eligible experimental
development, or applied or basic research.
The following activities are not eligible for benefits under the program:
* social science and humanities research;
* commercial production of a new or improved material, device, or
product, or the commercial use of a new or improved process;
* style changes;
* market research or sales promotion;
* quality control or routine testing of materials, devices,
products, or processes;
* routine data collection;
* prospecting, exploring, or drilling for or producing minerals,
petroleum, or natural gas; and
* development based solely on design or routine engineering practice.
Quite similar engineering work could be a part of an SR&ED effort or simply
routine engineering work, depending on the intent of the project, but routine
engineering by itself is never SR&ED. IME, engineers usually much more aware
than accounting types of whether any technological risk is being undertaken or
Spehro Pefhany --"it's the network..." "The Journey is the reward"
interlog.com Info for manufacturers: speffhttp://www.trexon.com
Embedded software/hardware/analog Info for designers: http://www.speff.com
On 12/27/07, Spehro Pefhany <interlog.com> wrote: speff
> At 02:31 AM 12/27/2007, you wrote:
> >"Research is all about discovering new things"
> >Reading a datasheet for the first time could be research in the spirit
> >of above definition.
> >"Development is taking known ideas and using them to build products. "
> >No comment, but I'm sure not all guys here agree this definition.
> This is the kind of definition I like, from the Mandarins in Ottawa:-
Just for your record: I'm working in R&D since 20 years, so maybe the
mandarins have right. This fight about what the hell is R and what the
hell want those damn D engineers which are finalising their research
with a product, a technology or just a patent is really useless.
what did you say?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Vasile Surducan" <gmail.com> piclist9
To: "Microcontroller discussion list - Public." <mit.edu> piclist
Sent: Thursday, December 27, 2007 10:21 AM
Subject: Re: [EE]:: Jack Gansell on R&D
On Dec 27, 2007, at 4:36 AM, Gerhard Fiedler wrote:
> William "Chops" Westfield wrote:
>> On Dec 26, 2007, at 9:46 PM, Apptech wrote:
>>> There's no such thing as R&D.
>> While philosophically I'm inclined to agree,
Philosophy makes for interesting "models" of real-life, but after
reading the article, I think it's out to lunch. A typical "lack of
What has always worked historically is: Iterative development with
research mixed in.
You build what you can, and you keep improving on it. Edison, Nobel,
O & W Wright, etc... all students of persistence more than brilliance.
Additionally, more than 50% of the articles of a historical nature
that I've read on all sorts of "discoveries", all seem to have an
element of "luck" involved in them, along with inordinate amounts of
stubbornness or persistence on the part of the "researcher".
Just tonight, I was listening to a podcast about someone looking for
nitrates in the late 1800's literally walking by the richest nitrate-
laden ore sample ever found every day -- which was being used at a
doorstop for their lab.
(If you've never read anything about the history of nitrates before
chemical processes were made to manufacture them, do. It's a
fascinating tale full of all sorts of power struggles. Explosives --
and thus war -- was tied at the hip with nitrates until they could be
synthesized. Whoever controlled the nitrates, controlled the world's
The lab "doorstop" was thought to be something else, until a curious
chemist who wouldn't "forget about it" when told it wasn't a chunk of
petrified wood (what everyone else thought it was), finally chopped a
chunk off of it and tested it. It took him three months to get around
to doing it.
Similar stories seem to abound in all sorts of fields. Far more often
than not, in my experience. But I can't prove that with any hard
numbers or studies...
> Additionally, more than 50% of the articles of a
> historical nature
> that I've read on all sorts of "discoveries", all seem to
> have an
> element of "luck" involved in them, along with inordinate
> amounts of
> stubbornness or persistence on the part of the
ALL new discoveries are happenstance.
EVERYTHING we do is stamp collecting.
Despite what a top NZ researcher once said :-).
We can systematise what we have learned, and we can learn
about subsets of what stamp collecting has brought us by
applying the knowledge to build models of the missing parts,
but by definition, what is wholly unknown cannot be found by
anything except intelligently guided guesswork. We may
discover an especially shiny pile of pebbles on Newton's
beach and decide that there may be others nearby. We may
stumble on 3 pieces of the jigsaw puzzle and deduce the
shape of the top-quark piece that has to fit into one of the
empty gaps, but we cannot leap into emptiness and demand
that something be there as we wish it to be. To some extent
the larger discovered frameworks of conservation of this or
that (energy, momentum, ...) help us to fill in what appear
to be the borders of the puzzle. But we will continue to be
taunted by hints that the borders are but an illusion (eg by
"dark matter" whenever we begin to conclude that we have
gone about as far as we can go, that there is room in the
world for maybe 6 (or 10 or ...) computers or that Quantum
mechanics must make sense. Or mustn't.
None of which has especially much to do with Jack's thesis
On Dec 28, 2007 12:52 AM, Nate Duehr <natetech.com> wrote: nate
> (If you've never read anything about the history of nitrates before
> chemical processes were made to manufacture them, do. It's a
> fascinating tale ...
Care to share your source?
On Dec 28, 2007, at 10:51 AM, John Gardner wrote:
> On Dec 28, 2007 12:52 AM, Nate Duehr <natetech.com> wrote: nate
>> (If you've never read anything about the history of nitrates before
>> chemical processes were made to manufacture them, do. It's a
>> fascinating tale ...
> Hi Nate,
> Care to share your source?
One of the first that piqued my interest in how nitrate mining and
discovery was intertwined in world politics was :
"A Most Damnable Invention: Dynamite, Nitrates, and the Making of the
That link is to the hardcover version, but my copy is a paperback.
Amazon doesn't show any paperbacks in stock anywhere, new or used.
I agree, R and D are like Inhale and Exhale. I don't do both at the
same time usually, but it's all part of breathing.. In small firms,
you'll probably have to do both, and you probably want to keep the R
as a small "r" and the D as a big D.
On Dec 28, 2007 10:36 AM, Nate Duehr > One of the first that piqued my
interest in how nitrate mining and
> discovery was intertwined in world politics was :
> "A Most Damnable Invention: Dynamite, Nitrates, and the Making of the
> Modern World"
> That link is to the hardcover version, but my copy is a paperback.
> Amazon doesn't show any paperbacks in stock anywhere, new or used.
>I agree, R and D are like Inhale and Exhale. I don't do
>both at the
> same time usually, but it's all part of breathing.. In
> small firms,
> you'll probably have to do both, and you probably want to
> keep the R
> as a small "r" and the D as a big D.
I think that Jack would be surprised and possibly interested
and probably pleased at the discussion that his comments
caused on this thread alone.
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