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 problem only to learn that their colleagues figured that out last month — or last year!
  • 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 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.