Archive for the 'Books' Category


Book Review: Skunkworks

Sometime earlier this year in February, the guys at work recommended a book – Skunk Works by Ben Rich and Leo Janos. I then read a couple of reviews about this book and decided to purchase it. Admittedly, locating this book in your LBS (local book shop) is no easy feat. I travelled to Kinokuniya where the system revealed a copy of the book was available, but alas, it was not to be found in the shelves. Borders had no stock. Ironically, the place I found the book was from SANS Bookshop at parkway, where they even helped me to wrap the book up. Local businesses for the win!

Skunk Works is a semi biographical account of Ben Rich’s experiences in the elite engineering department in Lockheed Martin known as “Skunk Works”. The book richly details the life of a ragtag crew of highly talented engineers, including Kelly Johnson, Ben Rich himself and the rest of the crew in their quest to pursue engineering perfection.

Details about the development of the F117 stealth plane, U2 spy plane and SR71 Blackbird make for a very entertaining read. The unexpected hurdles that these engineers have to overcome and their corresponding solutions help us to realise that high tech development has to sometimes be fought with low tech solutions. Problems that exist now in any workplace such as politics, red tape and cost are also discussed in the book.

In essence, Skunk Works makes for good light reading for any engineer, or engineer in training. Chock full with erroneous details (the best kind), the book remains amazingly relevant to today’s engineering climate despite the fact that it was written more than 10 years ago!