www.ChrisCampbell.org

Chris Campbell, electrical engineer

Systems Engineering

I have 20 years of experience in system engineering:

  • building new systems
  • streamlining operations

I believe I am particularly skilled at:

  • taking chaotic situations and creating order that is sustainable and scalable
  • developing an understanding of deeply complex systems and making them run smoother
  • troubleshooting enormously complex systems

Skills that I would bring to your team:

  • Fixing broken process, leveraging existing but forgotten resources (updating as necessary)
  • Reducing time wasted in troubleshooting problems that have already solved by others in the organization, by establishing resources and processes by which a group of engineers can communicate and leverage each others’ experience.
  • Slashing time and money wasted by engineers struggling with a system or technology only to learn that their colleagues figured that out last month — or last week!
  • Seeking out personal silos of information and joining them together so that the whole group can exploit the full body of knowledge
  • Understanding complex systems for the purposes of expansion or design change
  • Explaining systems to others, starting with the purpose, the essence of WHY the system even exists in the first place
  • Building information frameworks, typically starting with a wiki, that captures the knowledge and experience of other engineers.  If that framework already exists then I will fully leverage it, but I have considerable experience in simply starting from scratch and building one up.
  • Enabling teams to work smarter

My personal method for the information framework in particular:

  • document immediately (e.g. simply start with a short checklist) and then iterate / evolve rapidly
  • Continual improvement: capture feedback, immediate edits
  • rapid process improvement, especially early
  • put those procedures and checklists at the user’s fingertips (online, even mobile)
  • when something breaks, don’t just fix the current implementation, fix the procedure so that future implementations don’t break; we should never see the same problem twice
  • don’t just design the machine, design the machine that makes the machine

I do have experience with extremely rigorous documentation in large bureaucracies (controlled documentation sets, change notices, etc.) but my real skill is in starting with a complete mess and creating order and efficiency out of it.

Basic Project Management skills:

  • keeping track of who owes us what, and following up, both internally and externally
  • connecting vendors with each other as needed, pushing things along if necessary
  • keeping up with todo lists / punchlists, communicated to project partners
  • watching out for future choke points (i.e. critical path)
  • advertising project status somehow, even via a simple whiteboard outside my office showing sub-task status

For large projects, during the planning stage I look for ways to phase the project, making it easier to digest, providing for intermediate milestones and testing points that build confidence in the process.  I’ll look to get an early start on any technology development to buy down / retire risk later in the project.

My system engineering strengths lie in execution and tactics — smart phasing, properly selected test points, parallelizing of work.  I do not expect to be the team member developing your strategy or driving business development, rather executing your strategy.