Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Life As an Engineering Course Writer

I was kind of forced into retirement, fired you might say, on the last day of the month of my 65th birthday.  I continued to do some work for my former employer on a contract basis from time to time, but after awhile the work died out.  Following more than 18 months without any work, I decided to declare myself as an “Inactive” Professional Engineer (P. E.) to the Texas Board of Professional Engineers.  This meant that I could not legally practice as a P. E., but on the other hand I wouldn’t have to keep taking those infernal Continuing Education Program Professional Development Hour (PDH) courses for a cost of anywhere from about $300 a year to ten times that amount.

Then in March 2012, lo’ and behold, a job opportunity came along.  It involved a carbon-dioxide fatality at a McDonald’s restaurant.  I had already worked on several accidents involving carbon dioxide, in particular on a morbidly similar case involving double carbon-dioxide fatalities at another McDonald’s restaurant.  No one else in my former employer’s company knew much about carbon dioxide, and that’s why I caught the assignment.  When I told the attorney on the case that I was not an active P. E. and that, as such, I could not work for him until I got reactivated, he told me to get reactivated in a hurry.

I figured that the quickest way to get reactivated was by taking online courses, and I was right.  After some searching on the Internet, I found this website called www.pdhengineer.com, the pdh standing for Professional Development Hour.  I took several of their courses, and somewhere along the way, I decided, “I can write this kind of stuff.  I’ve been doing it for 40 years”.  Moreover, I thought, judging from the absence of any comments on my blog postings, apparently hardly anyone ever reads them, so why not write courses that some engineer might actually pay for?  After, if he (or she) is an engineer, then he (or she) will have to get their PDH’s somewhere, so I have somewhat of a semi-captive audience of potential clients.

Consequently, I applied to the website to be an author.  I qualified, naturally, and I wrote a little course worth one PDH titled “Introduction to Water Towers”.  This course is not about water cooling towers but rather about elevated tanks of potable water.  This was in May of 2012.  Next I wrote a course worth three PDH titled “Case Studies of Three Explosions and a Chemical Accident”.  Catchy title.  I wanted to call it “Boom, Boom, Boom, Splash!”, but the website editor wouldn’t approve of that title.  I am about to publish another course worth one PDH titled “Anatomy of a Waste Water Tank Explosion”.  I thought it would be pretty cool to say “anatomy” instead of “analysis” or “study” or something.  So far, I have sold five copies of the water tower course and six copies of the explosion &c course, and I have made $181.51 in royalties.

It is always a thrill when I open my email and see one from the website course Administrator with a message saying that someone (presumably an engineer, but not necessarily; it could be you) had purchased one of my courses.  This is all part of my get-rich-slow scheme.


Guy R. said...

I don't know if you were fishing for compliments or not, but I've been reading your blog for almost as long as it's been up, and it's always interesting to read.

Congratulations on the new work, it sounds like it's right up your alley.

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