5 Ways to be in service of others

by Fred

Answering questions in service of others

Over the past week or two I’ve received requests and comments that have given me pause. Why is it that I have time to answer questions and share information? Why do I spend the time to do so in the first place.

I have found that responding to questions or requests for assistance is rewarding.

Today I received a request for help in a job search. Last week it was an employer looking for a perfect candidate. I’ve received questions about graduate school in the US from a Chinese undergraduate. A question on accelerated life testing approaches. Another on maintenance practices and data analysis.

For each I try to provide an answer or direct to find an answer.

I am fortunate to have a pretty flexible work schedule and sufficient time each day to respond to questions. Sure I have plenty of work and am quite busy the many projects, yet I regular prioritize the time to help others.

Why? I don’t really know why I do what I do other than it provides a good feeling when someone says thanks. When someone lands a great position and advances their career. When someone learns something useful to them and their career. I like to have played a part in advancing others.

We need more great reliability engineers and I hope to help along those lines.

Top Contributor in various forums

I read and study a lot. I find that Linkedin provide a nice mix of news, interesting stories, blogs, and questions. I enjoy the conversation and hope my contributions are enjoyed.

I follow about 50 groups and contribute regularly to about half a dozen.

It is a way to contribute to the professional conversation year round. It’s also been a wonderful place to find answers to questions that I have. Thanks for all you support for those that regularly contribute.

Tutorials and blogs

A few years ago the leadership team of the ASQ Reliability Division was a large meeting of ASQ volunteer leaders. The challenge provided was to find ways to bring value to our divisions or sections. At our table we talked about those preparing for the ASQ CRE exam.

We decided to start a blog with regular short tutorials on specific elements of the body of knowledge. Today there are over 100 short tutorials and notes available. The site, creprep.wordpress.com, enjoys 25 to 30 visitors each day and has provided over 30,000 page views.

There are plenty of topics remaining and I continue to write a short tutorial on a weekly basis.

Hopefully, you or those you know have benefited from the site. It has been enjoyable work.

The NoMTBF.com site has also posted over 100 notes in our attempt to provide clarity around a range of topics related to reliability engineering. Again thanks to those that have contributed articles and thanks to all the readers.

About 50 visitors a day and over 40,000 page views. Again it’s been enjoyable work and a nice release for those frustrating calls with someone insisting they want MTBF or that is all I need to know.

The series of essays, Musings on Reliability and maintenance topics, has 40 articles posted and just short of 2,000 views. The topics range from value, to roles, to reliability management techniques.

That is three posts a week with the occasional guest post from a colleague.

I especially enjoy the comments. Once again it’s part of our professional conversation.

Shouldn’t forget the ASQ Reliability Division webinar program. We started that about 3 years ago and have produced just over 100 events. Presentations continue monthly in various series, in English and Chinese. We use Slideshare to host the slide sets (‘where are the slides’ being the most asked question) and the slides have over 100k views.

The webinar program continues to be free and have a great team bringing you these events.

Curator of reliability news and information

Many years ago I was asked if I knew about any good upcoming conferences. That wasn’t an easy question to answer as there wasn’t a single place that listed reliability events, conferences, meetings, courses, etc. So, back then, in a monthly newsletter I listed the events I knew about.

A few years ago, ASQ.com introduced a master calendar that would permit us to tag events and they would appear not the asq.com/reliability homepage. What a great idea. We could provide the service of listing reliability events so we as reliability professional or those interested in reliability could find them. Of course, ASQ, like most other organizations didn’t like the idea of posting events from competitors.

So, we created our own site, The Reliability Calendar. With over 20 volunteer posting upcoming events and over 1,000 upcoming events listed, you should be able to find an event to meet your interest. Also, if you find something missing, let us know or better yet, become an editor of the calendar and add those upcoming events yourself.

The calendar page gets about 200 visits a month with an average duration on the page of about 4 minutes. With over 40,000 pages views it continues to be very popular. Be sure to check out the google search features and consider embedding the calendar on your site or within your own calendar. See google help pages for instructions.

We noticed one of the most frequent question on the Linkedin forums was about graduate programs for reliability engineers. With the help of Professor Elsayad Elsayad we build a site listing the reliability engineering focused programs that we could find. Higher Ed has enjoyed over 8,000 page views and hopefully helped more than a few find the right fit for their higher education pursuits.

Professional reading is a hallmark of a professional. Reliability engineering has a wide body of knowledge and continues to evolve with new materials, processes, techniques and challenges. We enjoy a profession that is rich with colleagues that share what they know.

The Reading site is our attempt to list books, blogs, Newsletters, and journals of interest to reliability professionals. While not as popular as the other collections it is growing. With the help of a few volunteers we continue to build the listings. We hope to add reviews, interviews, and other features as time permits.

The other way I curate reliability related information is though my daily reading and sharing. I have three ways for you to follow my collections of information.

  1. RebalMouse provides a daily collection and presentation of my selections. You can see a running collection and a link to sign up for the email list at my Social Sharing site.

  2. paper.li Reliability Musings is a weekly summary of the articles and posts I’ve found interesting. You can subscribe for a weekly email, too.

  3. If you are looking to a new position or curious about what is available. Visit the Openings page for a current listing of opening posted on major job sites. You can also follow the Twitter account, @fms95032, for an ongoing listing of openings. Also, if you’re looking to hire or to work, let me know. I talk to someone every week and try to help them find a match.

Of course, please follow me on Twitter @fmsreliability for yet another way to continue the conversation.


In school and in business journals we are regularly reminded to build and maintain our networks. I’m proud to have met and worked with so many talented folks. I enjoy our conversations either directly or via Linkedin. Please do connect with me at Linkedin as I do want to stay in touch.

I’ve lost count of the number of questions others have helped me answer. Or the number of project ideas (even the webinar program was not my idea). I thrive on knowing so many and enjoy the value of such a strong network. If I can help you with your network, let’s talk and I’ll be happy to make introductions.

We all need mentors and peers we can bounce ideas around with, or work through concepts, or double check assumptions and approaches. I’ve been very fortunate to have wonderful support all through my career.

Trusted Advisor

Of all the projects and programs I’ve found the most rewarding and fulfilling is the active coaching of engineers and managers. I have enjoyed consulting engagements where I’ve gotten to work closely with teams as they create reliability programs, learn reliability skills, and garner management support while providing value the entire way.

I really like these projects and am currently working on ways to expand the access (lower cost) and reach (marketing) so I can do more of these coaching projects. I hope to induce these programs this year.

Teaching seems to be a larger and larger share of my work this past year. I taught two week course at University of Maryland for my tenth time. And, this fall I taught a two week lecture series at the University of Shanghai Science and Technology. Plus week long courses on reliability in Muscat, Oman, and Portland, Oregon. And, taught a CRE Preparation course twice this year for the local ASQ section.

I”m looking to expand access and reach with my teaching this year. I’ve actively working on a CRE Review program along with course and coaching materials. I expect to also roll out a reliability basics course later in the year.

Someone sent me a thank you for all that I do. That got me thinking about all that I accomplish and have ongoing. I enjoy staying in touch, helping others and contributing to our profession. I hope you have found it beneficial.

I’m enjoying the conversations and look forward to many more.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

dan December 30, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Fred, great summary of why we all do what we do to grow the profession.


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