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What’s in a Name?

8 June 2022

Hi there! I’m Ryan.

I’ve been keeping this website around for over a year now, and felt like finally introducing myself.

By day, I’m a mechanical engineer, working for a promising start-up on a very interesting physics problem. By night, I like to read, write, and work on a few side projects that I’m documenting here.

Free State Labs

I started this website a few years ago as a way of giving myself an independent home on the internet. Of course, this part of it is hosted on GitHub, but everything is portable and I can move back if I want to. Some of my “technical values” (I hope I just coined that term, but likely not) are simplicity, agility, and robustness - and I like to think a personal website written primarily in Markdown and built with an open-source static site generator coupled to a clean, minimalist theme is just that.

The term “free state labs” means a few things to me, but I just want to share the most important one: my view on technology’s ability to provide us, humanity, with a free state - an ability to live our lives without constant worry over the most basic needs and freedom to pursue ever greater ambitions.

In other words: it should give everyone a starting point above ground level on Maslow’s pyramid.

A lot of what I cover here is mostly related to my own technical interests, many of which have been accomplished before by engineers far greater than me: landing rockets, calculating structural dynamics equations, and basic reinforcement learning algorithms.

But this is where the labs portion of the name becomes relevant: these projects provide a place for me to hone those skills, such that I may be able to provide my own contribution to our civilization’s progress. Hopefully, along the way I can teach others something to help them with their own journey.

My Background

I’ve been working for over half a decade now (that’s not very long!) in mechanical design and structural analysis. I use finite element analysis tools such as ANSYS and Abaqus daily for statics, dynamics, thermal, and electromagnetics calculations. I am also quite fluent with CAD software like SolidWorks and NX, as well as numerous mechanical design techniques. I like to think of myself as well-grounded in the manufacturing realm and have spent my fair share of time machining parts in the shop and running tests in the lab, but it is most certainly not my strong-suit.

On the side, I like to learn to code and have been teaching myself languages like Python, Julia, and C++ to help me with the various projects you might see here on this site.

I have both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. Past projects and employment focused on applications such as ships and satellites.

A Few Ground Rules

I’m a bit of a perfectionist with my writing

though I’ll try not to let perfect be the enemy of good enough.

I have a stressful day job and I probably won’t update this page frequently enough for my liking

but any progress in a reasonable direction is better than no progress and no direction.

Never trust someone who refers to themselves as an expert

and please don’t make any such assumptions about me or about my work - if you found this little site on the vast internet, it’s quite likely you know far more about these subjects than I do.

I love discussion and debate

so feel free to email me at ryan@freestatelabs.com, but please don’t be offended if I respond quite a bit late!

and finally:

Life is an optimization problem

but it should never, ever be lived that way.

-ryan


Copyright © 2022 ryan@freestatelabs