Theory and Practice There is an old adage in engineering that goes "In theory, theory and practice are the same, but in practice they're not." We know that its easy to assume that technology developed in an academic environment or in someone's garage will function equally as well in the "real world", but experience shows us that is not always the case.
How are we able to identify problems and fairly assess technologies better than others? Of course we provide expert analysis of the underlying engineering and principles behind a technology, but we take our assessment a step further. More than anything else, we pride ourselves on questioning assumptions.
Questioning Assumptions Engineers and scientists have to make assumptions all the time, and can become inured to them. Because we have lived with some assumptions so long, we forget that there are times when they may not be valid.
Can a chemical synthesis that proceeds smoothly when hand stirred in a beaker on the laboratory bench REALLY be scaled up to a 5,000 gallon industrial reaction vessel, or would you need a jet engine to mix it?
If a network transceiver has a mean-time between failure (MTBF) of 18 months, what does that mean for the MTBF of an ACTUAL network with 15,000 transceivers?
A bank of uninterruptible power supplies might easily handle the power requirements of a data center. But can it handle the power transient when all the machines are booting up at the same time?
Scientists and engineers are not the only ones that routinely make assumptions that may leave them vulnerable to unforeseen circumstances.
Does the manufacture of a key component rely on ready availability and price stability of rare earth metals produced only in China?
Do any of the underlying algorithms behind a particular video-streaming technology run afoul of United States export restrictions on strong encryption?