More About the Author
Hi: My name is Jim Adams (James L. Adams, since there are so many of us). My e-mail address is email@example.com. As an emeritus professor of Mechanical Engineering (Design), Management Science and Engineering, and Science, Technology, and Society at Stanford University, I have been retired from paychecks for twelve years. But it isn't easy, because there are so many good things to do, and I was given neither infinite money nor infinite time at my retirement party.
Along with trying to keep track of my ever-expanding family, nose about the world, and follow my increasing number of hobbies, I continue to think, read, and occasionally depress myself by brooding about the human condition. I guess I have always liked to do such things, and now I don't have a job to distract me. In particular I have for many years been interested in creativity and innovation, design, the nature of technology and science, the quality of industrial products, the ancient and honorable pastime of working with the hands, and people. These interests are the focus of my blog, and they are inter-related.
Growing up on an orange grove in Southern California (ten acres still exist, and under the able hands of my brother are becoming famous as the "Last Orange Grove in Rialto"), I received a good introduction to making and fixing things. My interest in engineering came from that, my initial thinking that I would be a machinist like one of my uncles, summer jobs as an apprentice machinist, a draftsman, and a junior engineer, and attending Caltech.
Upon graduating from Caltech I worked for Shell Oil as a production engineering trainee for a bit, until it became clear that I should join the Air Force to avoid my draft board's long lasting desire to put me in the army. I was stationed at the Air Force Flight Test Center (Edwards Air Force Base) and was a project planner involved with future operations. It was both fun and exciting.
After the Air Force, I spent six years alternating between being an art student at U.C.L.A.an engineering student and lecturer at Stanford, and working at General Motors and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in order to remain housed and fed. It was a swell six years.
After I received my Ph.D. degree I worked at the Jet Propulsion Lab as an engineer and group supervisor on the first U.S. Moon, Venus, and Mars spacecraft. The Space Race--an amazing period and unbelievably fascinating work. My new wife and I also got to work on the beginnings of the family that keeps expanding.
In 1966 I joined the Stanford faculty and have been university property ever since. Before my retirement I taught courses ranging from mechanical and product design through technical management to the nature of technology. I finally retired because I felt I had thoroughly experienced the university. I no longer teach courses, but my house is still on Stanford land and I retain office space from which I can mooch coffee and bother people who seem to be working too hard.
In addition to teaching, I have done research, held many administrative jobs and been a member of a very large number of committees in the university, been involved in start-up companies, and consulted and conduced seminars and workshops for over 100 commercial clients, as well as many government, educational and professional groups. I have taught and worked with executives, school teachers, truck drivers, and alumni, as well as university students, and have received a gratifying amount of recognition and number of awards for my work.
Before I retired, I wrote Conceptual Blockbusting, a popular book on creative thinking, The Care and Feeding of Ideas, a book directed toward the management of creativity and change, and Flying Buttrresses, Entropy, and O-rings, a book on the nature of engineering. I am presently working on three more. The next one, Good Products, Bad Products, will be published by McGraw-Hill in January 2012.
And I consider myself very lucky, since I am still having a wonderful time and have no regrets about how I have spent my life so far.