Engineering or Maintenance?

Engineering and Maintenance.  I live by these words. They encompass just about every hour of my day, week, month, LIFE!  

By night, I’m an Engineer and I work with Maintenance to make sure our airplanes are ready fly you wherever your hearts desire by morning!  So, what’s the difference? I’ve been asking myself this question a lot over the last month.  In my aviation world they are two very distinct departments within the airline.  Maintenance is a group of people that, well does just that, maintains the airplane.  And Engineering is also a group of people, although some question whether we are robots because of the apparent absence all social skills, but our job is to fix an airplane when regular maintenance can’t.

In my Pilates life the waters get a little muddied, lines blurred, whites and blacks mixed to gray…the difference between Engineering and Maintenance are not as clear-cut. Am I maintaining or am I engineering? I don’t know! Identity crisis!  AHH, what am I doing with my life!  Ok just kidding, but the question still remains, what is the difference, what AM I DOING? I could ask myself this question about equipment and bodies!

So in order to find out I dragged out my handy virtual dictionary (again)!

Maintain (verb) – to keep in an existing state (as of repair, efficiency, or validity)
   to preserve from failure or decline

Engineer (verb) – to design and build something using scientific principles

Well, thank goodness for you, this is not nearly as complex an equation as my previous explanation about Machine vs. Apparatus!  Using these definitions I’m clearly just maintaining Pilates equipment.  I’m changing springs and hooks, I’m cleaning and lubing reformer wheels, I’m adjusting straps. I’m preserving Pilates equipment from failure or decline.

Now I could engineer Pilates equipment, and one day I will!  But to do so is a bit more complex.  I’d first create drawings, plans, blueprints if you will, then I’d build and test a prototype to validate its usefulness using scientific principles of Physics, Statics and Dynamics Engineering.  I’d choose the proper metal alloy that is strong enough but also light enough to manufacture the frame from. I’d pick screws, bolts, and nuts that are the right size and strength to ensure that the pieces of the frame will support the weight of the bodies that will work on it. I’d test the springs to determine their “spring constant” and verify that they provide the proper force over a specific distance (keep your eyes out for this post! – mentally prepare yourself first).  And only after doing all of that, then I’d run my prototype through all the necessary tests to validate my analysis. That’s engineering folks! 🙂

And what about bodies? When we teach Pilates what are we doing? Are we maintaining bodies?  I hope not!  Are we engineering bodies?  I hope so!

What do you think?  Do we maintain or engineer when we teach?

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