My Discovery: The Engineer Guy Who Helps You “Get It”

I have a new hero. His name is Bill Hammack (AKA the Engineer Guy). Thanks to Gizmodo, I discovered someone who can tell techie stories succinctly and in an engaging way. None of this eyeballs rolling back in the head stuff. His website describes the approach as “Irreverent & playful.” I agree wholeheartedly.

My introduction to Mr. Hammack came via the Gizmodo link I followed because it had an explanation of queuing up at a store (specifically, “Why the other line is likely to move faster”).

In a segment that lasts under 4-minutes, Mr. Hammack talked about how “queuing theory” – developed by engineers to route phone calls – can be used to find the most efficient arrangement of cashiers and check out lines.

  • I learned about the work of Agner Erlang, a Danish engineer who, at the opening of the 20th century, helped the Copenhagen Telephone Company provide the best level of service at the lowest price.
  • I found it interesting that the recommended way to route lines for checking out is one those of us who shop at Fry’s Electronics are very familiar with.

See for yourself here:

While poking around on his website, I found another fascinating video about how the old IBM Selectric typewriter worked.

If you view from his website, you’ll find a transcript along with the video. That’s pretty cool. Also, you will discover that Mr. Hammock has written a book to guide engineers on who to speak to the masses (“Why Engineers Need to Grow a Long Tail: A primer on using new media to inform the public and to create the next generation of innovative engineers”).


A PDF version of the book is available for free. You can also buy it via Amazon.

Keep an eye open for other videos from him. I’m thrilled that I found educational “snackable” content that I can try out on the Samsung web-enabled TV, where streaming YouTube is a snap.


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