When I was 18, I bought a Vespa ’67: the famous Italian scooter. It was already very old then, totally beaten-up, but luckily I had a friend who owned an auto-repair shop, and he was kind enough to give me some access at night.
For several weeks, I taught myself the art of metal bodywork, ending up with a beautiful metallic sky-blue ‘67 Vespa. God, I loved that machine!
Then one day, I began to hear strange voices from inside the engine. This kicked off several weeks of nighttime debugging. I would wait for the auto shop to empty out, then I would disassemble the scooter, break it down into its parts, trying to find the problem. But I had a rule: always reassemble it before dawn breaks and take it out of the shop.
This was my first real engineering job. I had no fear, and I simply knew that I could understand how it worked and fix it, simply by debugging. Nor did I think it might be worthwhile to read the spec and bank some knowledge before starting. I became so good at disassembling a Vespa’s engine that I think I could still do it today – and faster than most people. After all that, I ended up replacing a one-dollar metal pin, and I fixed the problem.
Today I’m a verification engineer, leader, teacher, and I lead Vtool, a company that invented the Cogita debugging platform.
When it comes to engineering, there is always a tradeoff between going step-by-step, using well-defined and proven methodologies, and exploring your own path, looking at problems as if for the first time, finding the best solution you can think of.