The History Behind the F-35B Continuing the theme of the Lockheed Skunk Works, this is an interesting take on the development of the shaft-driven fan on the F-35B. The inventor discusses how he came up with the idea and how the system works. Like any good research project, there was a risk of failure, but in the 9th month of a 9 month study Dr. Paul Bevilaqua had an idea that eventually turned into the F-35's engine. I hope he got a bonus considering the F-35 contract is worth $200 Billion (that's a 'B').
One comment from Dr. Bevilaqua worth mentioning is how it is more important to do engineering than to do math. In other words, think! As Dr. Bevilaqua says, school may have taught him how to move the pieces, but his mentor (Dr. Hans von Ohain, co-inventor of the jet engine) taught him how to play chess. In my travels, I see far too many "engineers" that don't think. If someone hasn't done it before, they are stuck.
We all should take a lesson from this. Good software engineering is more than re-hashing what someone else did. Sometimes it's the wacky ideas that end up being the best. Don't be afraid to reach sometimes and see what might work. Don't re-invent the wheel, but if there is no wheel then figure out a way to make one.