Professional Development

How to add your RCI Aerospace Analysis Training Certificate to your LinkedIn profile

How to add your RCI Aerospace Analysis Training Certificate to your LinkedIn profile 800 500 Eric Roulo

These days LinkedIn acts as your online presence. We follow each other via LinkedIn and use it to keep up with our colleagues and developments in our industry. And with the prevalence of remote working, our online presence is more relevant than ever these days. 

Take a few minutes to update your LinkedIn profile and if you’ve taken any of our Aerospace Analysis Boot Camps, this is a great moment to highlight that training. 

Here are the 3 steps to add your RCI Aerospace Analysis training certificates to your LinkedIn profile, in under 1 minute.
Step 1. Go to ‘View my profile’ in LinkedIn. It is in the dropdown titled ‘Me’ on the top right of your account.

LinkedIn - edit profile


Step 2. Click on ‘Add profile section’ and select ‘Licenses and Certificates’ from the dropdown.

LinkedIn - Add profile section

Step 3. Fill out the details from your RCI Certificate of Completion. In the ‘Issuing Organisation’ field start typing Roulo Consulting Inc., and our LinkedIn Company page will come up. Select it to complete this field. Check the box ‘The credential does not expire’ and add the issue date from your Certificate of Completion. Hit save and if you have completed multiple RCI Boot Camps, add them too.

LinkedIn - Add licenses & certifications

Your Certification will display on your LinkedIn profile under Education like this:

LinkedIn - Licenses & Certifications display


To stay up to date with new training announcements follow us on LinkedIn here.


8 tips for living in isolation from a NASA astronaut

8 tips for living in isolation from a NASA astronaut 2048 1526 Eric Roulo

“I’ve seen humans work together to prevail over some of the toughest challenges imaginable, and I know we can prevail over this one if we all do our part and work together as a team.” ~Scott Kelly

Scott Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut who spent nearly a year on the International Space Station wrote an article for New York Times, “I Spent a Year in Space, and I Have Tips on Isolation to Share,” to help us all cope.

Pause for a minute – we are at home isolating, but we have access to online delivery and the basic comforts of our home. Kelly spent a year in a cramped metal tube experiencing a lack of air circulation, sleep disruption, a diet of freeze-dried food, and living with the same people day in and day out. It must have been hard. But he describes the experience positively.

Here are the eight tips from Scott Kelly:

1) Follow a schedule

On the space station, my time was scheduled tightly, from the moment I woke up to when I went to sleep. Sometimes this involved a spacewalk that could last up to eight hours; other times, it involved a five-minute task, like checking on the experimental flowers I was growing in space. You will find maintaining a plan will help you and your family adjust to a different work and home life environment. When I returned to Earth, I missed the structure it provided and found it hard to live without.

2) Pace yourself

When you are living and working in the same place for days on end, work can have a way of taking over everything if you let it. Living in space, I deliberately paced myself because I knew I was in it for the long haul — just like we all are today. Take time for fun activities: I met up with crewmates for movie nights, complete with snacks, and binge-watched all of “Game of Thrones”

And don’t forget to include in your schedule a consistent bedtime. NASA scientists closely study astronauts’ sleep when we are in space, and they have found that quality of sleep relates to cognition, mood, and interpersonal relations — all essential to getting through a mission in space or a quarantine at home.

3) Go outside

One of the things I missed most while living in space was being able to go outside and experience nature. After being confined to a small space for months, I actually started to crave nature — the color green, the smell of fresh dirt, and the feel of warm sun on my face. That flower experiment became more important to me than I could have ever imagined. My colleagues liked to play a recording of Earth sounds, like birds and rustling trees, and even mosquitoes, over and over. It brought me back to earth. (Although occasionally I found myself swatting my ears at the mosquitoes.)

For an astronaut, going outside is a dangerous undertaking that requires days of preparation, so I appreciate that in our current predicament, I can step outside any time I want for a walk or a hike — no spacesuit needed. Research has shown that spending time in nature is beneficial for our mental and physical health, as is exercise. You don’t need to work out two and a half hours a day, as astronauts on the space station do, but getting moving once a day should be part of your quarantine schedule (just stay at least six feet away from others).

Note from Eric:  We are in unprecedented times when even going outside can be dangerous. While you can go outside, remember to maintain a distance of approximately six feet/two meters from others. Remember the virus can live on some surfaces for over 72 hours. And the virus can live in the air for up to three hours.  Go outside, but get educated on the dos and don’ts.

4) You need a hobby

When you are confined in a small space you need an outlet that isn’t work or maintaining your environment.

Some people are surprised to learn I brought books with me to space. The quiet and absorption you can find in a physical book — one that doesn’t ping you with notifications or tempt you to open a new tab — is priceless. Many small bookstores are currently offering curbside pickup or home delivery service, which means you can support a local business while also cultivating some much-needed unplugged time.

You can also practice an instrument (I just bought a digital guitar trainer online), try a craft, or make some art. Astronauts take time for all of these while in space. (Remember Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield’s famous cover of David Bowie’s Space Oddity?)

5) Keep a journal

NASA has been studying the effects of isolation on humans for decades, and one surprising finding they have made is the value of keeping a journal. Throughout my yearlong mission, I took the time to write about my experiences almost every day. If you find yourself just chronicling the days’ events (which, under the circumstances, might get repetitive) instead try describing what you are experiencing through your five senses or write about memories. Even if you don’t wind up writing a book based on your journal like I did, writing about your days will help put your experiences in perspective and let you look back later on what this unique time in history has meant.

6) Take time to connect

Even with all the responsibilities of serving as commander of a space station, I never missed the chance to have a videoconference with family and friends. Scientists have found that isolation is damaging not only to our mental health, but to our physical health as well, especially our immune systems. Technology makes it easier than ever to keep in touch, so it’s worth making time to connect with someone every day — it might actually help you fight off viruses.

7) Listen to experts

I’ve found that most problems aren’t rocket science, but when they are rocket science, you should ask a rocket scientist. Living in space taught me a lot about the importance of trusting the advice of people who knew more than I did about their subjects, whether it was science, engineering, medicine, or the design of the incredibly complex space station that was keeping me alive.

Especially in a challenging moment like the one we are living through now, we have to seek out knowledge from those who know the most about it and listen to them. Social media and other poorly vetted sources can be transmitters of misinformation just as handshakes transmit viruses, so we have to make a point of seeking out reputable sources of facts, like the World Health Organization and the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

8) Remember: We are all connected

Seen from space, the Earth has no borders. The spread of the coronavirus is showing us that what we share is much more powerful than what keeps us apart, for better or for worse. All people are inescapably interconnected, and the more we can come together to solve our problems, the better off we will all be.

One of the side effects of seeing Earth from the perspective of space, at least for me, is feeling more compassion for others. As helpless as we may feel stuck inside our homes, there are always things we can do — I’ve seen people reading to children via videoconference, donating their time and dollars to charities online, and running errands for elderly or immuno-compromised neighbors. The benefits for the volunteer are just as great as for those helped.

I’ve seen humans work together to prevail over some of the toughest challenges imaginable, and I know we can prevail over this one if we all do our part and work together as a team.

Oh, and wash your hands — often.

Read the full article here.


The 7 Deadly Communication Sins in Engineering Teams

The 7 Deadly Communication Sins in Engineering Teams 250 250 Lynn Roulo

“The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.” ~Tony Robbins

It is no surprise that communication errors are the root of the most costly mistakes in the engineering world. From slipped schedules, undisclosed technical failures, to team-wide frustration and confusion, the lack of effective communication bleeds into all elements of a project.  This post is about how to identify the most common issues and how to bridge communication gaps.

What are the seven deadly sins of engineering teams? Based on the book “Overcoming the 7 Deadliest Communication Sins” by Skip Weisman, these sins are:

  1. Lack of specificity – communication that is not specific enough.
  2. Lack of desirable behaviors – focusing on what “not to do” rather than what needs to be done. This leads to a focus on negative behavior.
  3. Lack of immediacy – procrastination of bad news, difficult conversations.
  4. Lack of focused attention – multitasking when someone is talking to you.
  5. Lack of appropriate tone and body language – in the form of raised voices, yelling, pointing and so forth.
  6. Lack of directness and candor – not talking about the “elephants in the room” or talking in general context hoping others will infer the actual meaning.
  7. Lack of respectful rebuttals – using the word “BUT” instead of “AND.” This inadvertently fosters disrespect.

When addressing the seven deadly communication sins, it is important to identify your own communication style. Which of the following are you?

The 9 Communication Types

Attention Style* Communication Style Illustrative Quote
Perfectionist/Type 1 Uses precise, direct, exacting, structured and detailed speech, shares task-related thoughts, can get mired in details, becomes defensive if criticized or if they are told their information is “wrong.” “I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”
Helper/Type 2 Asks lots of questions, focuses on the content of the other person, more “other” than “self” referencing, gives compliments, values social connection. “The ultimate source of happiness is not money and power, but warm-heartedness”
Achiever/Type 3 Uses clear, efficient, logical speech, may become impatient with lengthy conversations, focuses on steps to success, avoids topics that might reflect negatively on them or their image. “People are not lazy-they simply have goals that do not inspire them.”
Individualist/Type 4 Uses deliberate, conscious word choice, sensitive to emotional undercurrents and the personal situations of others, comfortable unearthing and addressing negative or messy work situations. “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.”
Investigator/Type 5 Speaks tersely with highly selective word choice, offers little extra information, focuses on analytical data, limited sharing of extra or personal information, answers only exactly what is asked. “Reward worthy failure–experimentation.”
Skeptic/Type 6 Starts with analytical comments, discusses worries, concerns, “what ifs” and potential negative outcomes,  may alternate between hesitant, cautious speech with bold confident speech. “You need to plan the way a fire department plans: it cannot anticipate where the next fire will be, so it has to shape an energetic and efficient team that is capable of responding to the unanticipated as well as to any ordinary event.”
Enthusiast/Type 7 Uses upbeat, positive, quick, spontaneous speech, tells engaging stories, avoids the negative, reframes negative information into positive information. “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”
Leader/Type 8 Uses bold and authoritative speech, big picture and strategic, may raise the intensity of their language until they get a response, may display anger directly and overwhelm others with their “aggressive” communication style. “You can do a lot more with weapons and politeness than just politeness.”
Peacemaker/Type 9 Uses agreeing words, gives highly detailed information in a sequential style, makes effort to be fair and balanced, may say yes when they mean no. “Silence is sometimes the best answer.”

Wondering who said those quotes?

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, the Dalai Lama, Tony Robbins, Andy Grove, Vladimir Putin and Ben Cohen. We’ll tell you who said what in an upcoming post.

Get started now:

Here’s our top tip of how you can start to improve your communication now. Pick Deadly Sin #1, the sin of lack specificity.  Focus on this topic for the next 30 days. Your goal is to be as accurate and specific as possible. Pay attention to your communication both written and verbal. Are you clear? Are you accurate? Could you be more specific?  Ranging from email subject heading to voicemail greetings, check your communication to see if you can take it up a notch. And notice how it feels to be more accurate, precise and complete in your communication.

Want to learn more?

Learn more about how to improve your business communication in our Effective Communication for Engineers Boot Camp.


*The nine types are based on the Enneagram System of Personality. Learn more.

Communication Skills for Engineers – The Seven Deadly Sins and How to Overcome Them


A new book for technical training managers

A new book for technical training managers 331 499 Eric Roulo

To kick off the new year, I’d like to share a great resource designed for the technical project manager – ‘Practical Project Management for Engineers’ by RCI trainer Nehal Patel.

This book guides readers through a step-by-step process on how to deliver quality, robust products and services while strengthening teams and customer relationships. It introduces the core processes identified for management:

  • Communication management: Over communicate, listen first.
  • Scope management: What does the customer expect?
  • Schedule management: Who does what by when?
  • Requirements management: The product or service to deliver.
  • Risk management: What could go wrong and what is the impact?
  • Vendor management: Visit the vendor in person (rule number 1 for NASA project managers).
  • Resource management: What do you need to do on Monday?
  • Cost management: Get paid.
  • Configuration management: Everyone working from the same sheet of music.

Here’s an excerpt of a review from Janet Grondin, Director of Emerging Space Capabilities, Stellar Solutions, Inc –

“Whether you are new to project management or a veteran PM, you absolutely need to have your own copy of Practical Project Management for Engineers! You will learn up-to-date, actionable information to up your game on any project!” 

You can purchase a copy of Practical Project Management for Engineers here on Amazon.


The Art of Doing Science and Engineering by Richard Hamming: (1) Learning to Learn

The Art of Doing Science and Engineering by Richard Hamming: (1) Learning to Learn 480 360 Eric Roulo

Orientation. The purpose of this course is to prepare you for your technical future. There is really no technical content in the course, though I will, of course, refer to a great deal of it, and hopefully it will be a good review of the fundamentals that you have learned. Do not think the technical content is the course – it is only illustrative material. Style of thinking is the center of the course. I am concerned with educating and not training you.

To get more course content (notes, books, slides) visit:

David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization

David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization 386 295 Eric Roulo

Published on Dec 20, 2013

This presentation provides some great examples of how to present complicated data in ways that maximize the amount of information transferred. Use it for inspiration when generating engineering plots for decision-makers. [-ejr]

— From —
David McCandless makes infographics — simple, elegant ways to see information that might be too complex or too big, small, abstract or scattered to otherwise be grasped. In his new book, Information Is Beautiful (in the US, it’s being called The Visual Miscellaneum), McCandless and his cadre of info designers take a spin through the world of visualized data, from hard stats on politics and climate to daffy but no less important trends in pop music.

McCandless’ genius is not so much in finding jazzy new ways to show data — the actual graphics aren’t the real innovation here — as in finding fresh ways to combine datasets to let them ping and prod each other. Reporting the number of drug deaths in the UK every year is interesting; but mapping that data onto the number of drug deaths reported by the UK press, broken down by drug, is utterly fascinating (more deaths by marijuana were reported than in fact occurred, by a factor of 484%). McCandless contributes a monthly big-think graphic to the Guardian’s Data Blog, and makes viral graphics for his blog Information Is Beautiful.

“It’s not just the sheer variety of topics covered — though knowing the relative effect of rising sea levels or the prime vintage years for red and white wines by country will come in handy someday soon, I’m certain — but the way in which, for many of these charts, there’s considerably more than meets the eye.”

Chris Bilton, Eye Weekly review of The Visual Miscellaneum

In Search of Excellence – Tom Peters

In Search of Excellence – Tom Peters 588 572 Eric Roulo

This book is a business classic and sometimes gets short shrift due to some of the ‘best-run companies’ it highlights. Like Atari. The book was published in 1982 and has so much timeless content, it deserves a read. It’s an engaging and fast read with a tremendous amount of sage advice and actionable goodies. The eight principals are written on the inside cover of the book and are worth the price of the book (even though now you can get it second hand for about $5). This book has the feel of the later Jim Collin’s books and a lot of the lessons listed below are reiterated across most, if not all, of the best selling business and management books.

Eight Basic Principles to stay on top of the heap

  1. A bias for action: a preference for doing something – anything – rather than sending a question through cycles and cycles of analyses and committee reports.
  2. Staying close to the customer – learning his preferences and catering to them.
  3. Autonomy and entrepreneurship – breaking the corporation into small companies and encouraging them to think independently and competitively.
  4. Productivity through people – creating in all employees the awareness that their best efforts are essential and that they will share in the rewards of the company’s success.
  5. Hands-on, value-driven – insisting that executives keep in touch with the firm’s essential business.
  6. Stick to the knitting – remaining with the business the company knows best
  7. Simple form, lean staff – few administrative layers, few people at the upper levels.
  8. Simultaneous loose-tight properties – fostering a climate where there is dedication to the central values of the company combined with tolerance for all employees who accept those values.

Mr. Peter’s has a website. It has a lot of great content, you should check it out. His other books are pretty good too.

The rest of my recommended leadership lists are here.


Elements of Engineering Excellence

Elements of Engineering Excellence 1024 700 Eric Roulo

NASA looked back on its illustrious history and condensed the traits that were responsible for its mission successes. They got it down to 9 principles and 27 lessons learned. This list represents over 1 trillion dollars of hardware development. It is foolish to ignore it.

The 9 Principles and 27 Lessons Learned from NASA 1958-2012

  1. System success depends on the creativity, judgment, and decision-making skills of the people
    1. People Are the Prime Resource for Project Success
    2. People Skills are Mandatory for Achieving Successful Products
  2. Space systems are challenging, high-performance systems
    1. Demand for High-Performance Lead to High Power Densities and High Sensitivities
  3. Everything acts as a system (whole)
    1. Systems and Technical Integration
    2. Risk Management
    3. All Design is a Paradox, a Balancing Act
  4. The system is governed by the laws of physics
    1. Physics of the Problems Reigns Supreme
    2. Engineering is a Logical Thought Process
    3. Mathematics is the The Same!
    4. Fundamentals of Launch Vehicle Design
  5. Robust Design is based on our understanding of sensitivities, uncertainties, and margins
    1. Robustness
    2. Understanding Sensitivities and Uncertainties is Mandatory
    3. Margins Must Be Adequate
  6. Project success is determined by life cycle considerations
    1. Design Space Constrained by Where you Are in the Life Cycle
    2. Concept Selection and Design Process
    3. Requirements Drive the Design
    4. Designing for the -ilities and Cost
  7. Testing and verification have an essential role in development
    1. Hardware and Data Have the Answers
    2. Can Test Now or Will Test Later
    3. Independent Analysis, Test, and Design are Keys to Success
    4. All Analyses and Tests are Limited
    5. Scale is a Major Issue
  8. Anticipating and surfacing problems must be encouraged
    1. Must Hear and Understand All Technical and Programmatic Opinions
    2. There are No Small Changes!
    3. Expect the Unexpected
  9. Leadership is the foundation
    1. Integrity
    2. Focus Beyond Yourself

Elements of Engineering Excellence (start here)

Additionally referenced reports


RCI Recommended Text Editors

RCI Recommended Text Editors 598 429 Eric Roulo

Engineers should have a good text editor in their software toolbox. It’s hard for me to help clients troubleshoot their Nastran models (in person) when they don’t have a text editor better than notepad on their machines.

Some traits of a good text editor are:

  • Ability to open unlimited size files (i.e. multi-gigabyte)
  • Cross-platform (same editor on Windows, Linux, macOS, etc.)
  • Free or very low cost
  • Column editing/cutting
  • No administrator install requirements
  • Fast search/replace functionality

Here are some good packages that I recommend:

Textpad ($16.50)

A popular text editor from a long way back

UltraEdit ($80/year)

This is my editor of choice in the Windows environment. It was one of the few editors that could open files over 4Gb back in the 32bit days. It has many different environments to access as little or as many of the advanced features that you want. I’m disappointed they went to a subscription model. I purchased an unlimited lifetime upgrade for $99 about 10 years and that is no longer an option.

Kinesics (free)

This is a very lightweight editor that I’ve been introduced to. It does everything you need and loads very quickly. The price is right too. Worth a long look at.

Notepad++ (free)

This editor is popular among my client’s IT departments. It’s free and has that going for it. It’s not very good relative to the purchased editors and has trouble with files over 1Gb. I know that’s a big file, but Nastran input decks are often 256Mb+ and output files (.f06) are often larger than 1Gb.

Nedit (free)

This was the first text editor I used professionally. It was loaded on our Unix systems where we ran Patran/Nastran. Nedit is an excellent open-source editor available in basically every flavor of Unix. I ran it for years inside of Cygwin (a wonderful Unix emulation layer that sits on top of windows). There are ports to Windows, but they never seemed to be well supported and basically just installed a Unix x/win server and ran Nedit inside of that. If you’re in a Unix environment, use this.

NastPad ($99-$999/year)

Old co-workers from Goodrich Aerostructures turned me onto this new software development. It looks awesome from the screenshots and capabilities page. I’m disappointed in the subscription model. I can’t imagine paying $1000/yr. for a text editor. I don’t spend enough time in a Nastran bulk desk as part of my daily work to justify this. Perhaps I did 10 years ago. For comparison, you can get the *entire* Adobe Creative Cloud suite of software for $600/yr.

Please comment with any editors that you think I’ve missed that you recommend and meet the requirements above. Thanks!


Lists of Leadership Guidance

Lists of Leadership Guidance 258 272 Eric Roulo

Top Ten lists are fun! There are lots of lists out there relating to management, personal development, professional development, and good old-fashioned engineering. I read a lot so when I come across a list, I enjoy reviewing it later because it reminds me of some of the ideas of the original work. These are not substitutes for reading the source documents. They are reminders of great ideas. But perhaps if you haven’t read the source, they will encourage you to do so.

  1. Success by Richard St. John
  2. Excellence by Tom Peters
  3. Skunk Work Rules by Kelly Johnson
  4. 100 Rules for Project Managers by NASA
  5. Augustine’s Law’s by Norman Augustine
  6. Spacecraft Design Laws by David Akin (i.e. Akin’s Laws)
  7. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey
  8. Secrets of Success by Nicholas Bate
  9. Life Tips 101 by Nicholas Bate