Aerospace Engineering with Dr Marsha Tufft (#31)

We talk about Marsha's engineering journey, Putney's World, and underwater hockey.

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Dr. Marsha Tufft is an engineer, author, speaker, and problem-solver. Her passion is helping kids succeed in STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, math. She brings 35 years engineering experience at GE Aviation and degrees in mechanical, aerospace, and materials engineering to the creation of STEM experiments and projects that can be done at home because there’s nothing like learning by doing. She writes middle grade fiction books with a STEAM (=STEM+art) theme because stories change attitudes. Visit her website, www.putneydesigns.com, for STEM experiments, videos, and information about her books.

In our conversation, we talk about Marsha’s engineering journey, Putney’s World, and underwater hockey.

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Dr Marsha Tufft’s Books

Putney and the magic eyePad by Marsha Tufft website BookDepository GoodReads

The cardboard boat race by Marsha Tufft website BookDepository GoodReads

The butterfly detective by Marsha Tufft website BookDepository GoodReads

Show Notes

[00:01:04] Marsha’s path to engineering.
[00:02:47] GATB vocational assessment.
[00:03:36] Progressing towards mechanical engineering.
[00:03:53] Summer engineer camp at Purdue University.
[00:04:38] Discovering an interest in coding.
[00:06:40] Different learning and teaching methods for yourself and at university.
[00:07:45] A rude awakening about her direction.
[00:11:48] Self-paced learning and independent study option at Purdue.
[00:13:34] Marker 8
[00:15:44] Summer jobs and working for P&G.
[00:17:14] The economics of engineering.
[00:20:46] Finding her way to GE Aviation.
[00:21:07] GE Aviation’s engineering development program.
[00:22:59] Finding a team that was inclusive and encouraged learning.
[00:25:11] Working a redesign that is still standard practice decades later.
[00:27:02] Getting involved with technical education.
[00:28:42] Instructor development at a college level.
[00:30:34] Rediscovering the joy of learning and doing a PhD.
[00:31:01] Working on ball peening conditions for a new alloy.
[00:36:57] The challenges of working with proprietary information in academia.
[00:39:15] On being with a company that offered flexibility in professional development.
[00:41:28] On the skills needed for management.
[00:44:08] The Peter principle and deciding against management track.
[00:45:42] The cyclical nature of the aircraft engine industry and a PhD as a parachute.
[00:47:30] Volunteering and outreach programs through GE and STEM Summer Camp.
[00:51:15] The transition to writing middle school STEM books.
[00:52:19] The Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative and learning about the challenges in STEM.
[00:52:43] On showing how mathematics is relevant and interesting.
[00:56:13] The value of problem-solving skills.
[00:57:31] Introducing rapid prototyping in Putney’s World.
[01:00:00] Thinking creatively and critically about a problem.
[01:01:19] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work?
[01:01:29] Quilting and butterflies.
[01:02:31] The materials engineering side of butterfly gardening.
[01:04:21] Finding inspiration for her books through her other interests.
[01:06:17] Underwater hockey, snorkelling, and underwater photography.
[01:09:13] Planning a cardboard boat challenge for a group of engineers.
[01:12:50] Sea turtle conservation: Sea Turtle Patrol Hilton Head.
[01:15:51] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you?
[01:15:58] Nancy Drew.
[01:16:23] Nancy Drew as a role model.
[01:16:42] Jules Verne.
[01:17:59] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore?
[01:25:26] Finding out more about Marsha and her work.

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