• An argument for you should jump into databases
  • An introduction to SQLite, one of the most popular databases, with some SQL philosophy
  • A tutorial on how to get started with SQLite using DB Browser, Python, and R
Photo by Denny Luan on Unsplash

Why Databases?

In a previous article, I tore into spreadsheets and claimed that it was easy to transition to databases. This article provides some context on why this is a good idea, along with a tutorial and introduction to the most popular SQL database. This article hopes to get you hacking out databases and code for your next (or current project) without any devops overhead…

Unsplash image by Siriwan Srisuwan
Unsplash image by Siriwan Srisuwan
Photo by Siriwan Srisuwan, Unsplash

Five ways spreadsheets are misused and how to fix them.

  • This article reviews five ways that spreadsheets are misused at engineering companies and provides some suggestions for improving these practices.


Spreadsheets are at the heart of many engineering jokes. We don’t do ourselves any favors in this regard either. To shame myself, I once predicted the remaining cooking time for a Turducken at a dinner party using a spreadsheet. My prediction was way off and I had nothing but regret while eating midnight Turducken with the few remaining friends. No one mentions the Turducken anymore, but I still haven’t heard the end of the spreadsheet story from my friends. …

Engineering Truisms

Three truisms that are actually mathematical facts and bear consideration:

  • A chain is only as strong as its weakest link & size dependence in engineering design
  • Keep things simple & Occam’s razor
  • There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch, with a more detailed discussion on optimization, hyperparameter search, bias, and variance (the longest part of the article)

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link

The chain is only as strong as its weakest link, for if that fails the chain fails and the object that it has been holding up falls to the ground

Thomas Reid (1785)

This truism is often quoted in terms of…

Analytical, numerical, and statistical models are basically the same thing

  • Analytical, numerical, and statistical models are all just abstractions of reality and fundamentally the same.
  • You should think of models in a consistent way and carefully differentiate forward and inverse problems.
  • Parsimony (model simplicity) should always be at the top of your mind.


I’m going to talk about statistics — sorry. This article also covers machine learning and differential equations. But don’t worry — no equations were hurt in writing this article. My goal here is to convince you that statistics, machine learning, and physical equations are basically the same thing — a useful abstraction of reality. …

Why traditional engineering companies need to steal key technology practices to avoid disruption

  • Traditional ‘brick and mortar’ engineering firms will be disrupted by technology firms using more sophisticated delivery and analysis techniques.
  • This article presents a scaffold of key techniques for both individual engineers and engineering firms to help avoid that disruption.


It’s sometimes hard to remember that when most people speak of engineering, they aren’t referring to developers or software engineers. They aren’t referring to algorithms or high performance computing. They aren’t talking about SQL databases or cloud computing. Most people think of engineering as the built environment — machines, roads, buildings, energy, and mining. And maybe even garbage collection. Yet the…

Scott McKean

Geomechanical Engineer, Data Scientist, and Researcher

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