News

Dear Colleagues

Perhaps like you, I tend to get somewhat peevish when confronted with yet another ghastly software package or computer interface which is unusable without considerable (indeed mind altering) training. And yet, surely usability is one of our most vital missions or requirements when designing and building a product (or indeed in delivering a service).

I always suggest in our software projects, much to amusement of our programmers, that you should design the (often...

Dear Colleagues,

I constantly feel bankrupt for good engineering ideas or in solving thorny problems. A colleague gave me a few good suggestions as per below. And a great 30p. chapter on pH measurement from our analytical instrumentation manual at the end of this note.

Engineering professionals have to be rational, sensible and regimented in their thinking with the critical work they are doing. You can’t go around being irrational when working on a high voltage system or designing a...

Dear Colleagues,

Unconventional Wisdom about Management and Power - why some people have it and others don't by Jeffrey Pfeffer (professor of management at Stanford) has some useful tips for engineering professionals. As we have discussed extensively in the past, to ahead in your company and career, it is sadly not enough to be technical competent and sharp. Jeffrey reckons the following elements are critical to career success:

Ambition - you must believe in yourself and where you want...

Dear Colleagues,

When NASA lost an expensive Mars orbiter (which burnt out descending too quickly) because a Lockheed Martin engineering deparment mistakenly used English units of measurement while NASA used the metric system for a key spacecraft operation, many of us probably sighed and thought of incorrectly configured software and data once again. According to yet another report (Standish), only 32% of software projects are successful with 24% outright failures.

However with the...

Attend this complimentary review on what Arc Flash is about followed by a simple toolbox of recommendations for your workplace.

 

Session 1: 9am GMT on Wednesday 16th March 2011 Link to time converter for Session 1

Session 2: 11pm GMT on Wednesday 16th March 2011 Link to time converter for Session 2

 

Join us for a complimentary live, interactive web-based session entitled “Essentials of Arc Flash Protection Webinar”. After this 45 minute session you will be able to;

 

• Recognise the...

Attend this complimentary review on what Arc Flash is about followed by a simple toolbox of recommendations for your workplace.

 

Session 1: 9am GMT on Wednesday 16th March 2011 Link to time converter for Session 1

Session 2: 11pm GMT on Wednesday 16th March 2011 Link to time converter for Session 2

 

Join us for a complimentary live, interactive web-based session entitled “Essentials of Arc Flash Protection Webinar”. After this 45 minute session you will be able to;

 

• Recognise the...

Attend this complimentary review on what Arc Flash is about followed by a simple toolbox of recommendations for your workplace.

 

Session 1: 9am GMT on Wednesday 16th March 2011 Link to time converter for Session 1

Session 2: 11pm GMT on Wednesday 16th March 2011 Link to time converter for Session 2

 

Join us for a complimentary live, interactive web-based session entitled “Essentials of Arc Flash Protection Webinar”. After this 45 minute session you will be able to;

 

• Recognise the...

Dear colleagues

No doubt, you have all experienced IT and other forms of technical support. Often a highly frustrating experience punctuated by moments of sheer brilliance and genuine caring. A few tips are given below for both the guys providing support and those enduring (IT especially) support in an honest attempt to improve the experience. Computers are an integral part of our lives as engineering professionals and the support should be considerably better than what we tolerate...

Dear Colleagues

Last week, I sighed in horror when I walked into a noisy hot industrial chemical plant and spotted the office-type commercial Ethernet hardware being used (with those weak RJ-45 connectors). Sure – you spend less money and get freely available off-the-shelf components, but you may get more problems than you bargained for. Admittedly this network is apparently still operating happily despite huge vibration, heating, power supply and moisture issues. But the risk is high...

Dear Colleagues

I see in a slew of recent newspaper reports that companies are increasingly hiring those technical specialists who have soft skills. To be quite frank with you, the need for engineering professionals to acquire soft skills often sounds like some sort of bizarre cop-out. As we all know, acquiring hard engineering skills and know-how is a tough and drawn out process – not only from studying but from hard won and often painful experience.

However, there is plenty of other...

Dear Colleagues

When it comes to extensive use of CAD-based drawings, I sometimes wonder whether this comment is true: ‘What we call progress is the exchange of one nuisance for another nuisance’ (Havelock Ellis). My good sparring partner, Dermot Kennedy (CEO of the firm I&E Systems – systems engineers) will perhaps forgive me for perhaps misquoting him below on an area he is passionate about – fixing our broken drawing systems, with some great suggestions, based on his work over the...

Dear Colleagues,

Is your local engineering graduate engineer, technician or technologist ready for the workforce?

According to a recent report* focussing on American graduates – apparently not always. Nothing new, for most of us in the work place, though.

The areas where newbies in the workplace are reportedly weak is in lacking in communication skills, unskilled in working in multidisciplinary teams and practical problem solving in dealing with real work issues are weak. Apparently, current...

Dear Colleagues

The ‘pot’ or potentiometer as it is called, is one of the workhorses of electrical and electronic engineering. I believe we can all still remember working with a pot on some sideline design or in a work related application. They have been around a long time. There are more sold than any other form of position sensor. Simple, cheap and small with no real obsolescence problems. So as Mark Howard asks: Why today does every designer look for a non-contact alternative?

Going...

All Australian Registered Training Organisations are required, by the Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF) , to collect specific information from learners and the employers of learners participating in nationally recognised training. This Learner Survey is designed to provide information against the AQTF 2007 Learner Engagement Quality Indicator, which helps determine if learners are engaging in activities which are likely to promote high-quality skills outcomes.
 
The AQTF is the...

Dear Colleagues

I always have a surge of guilt and am twitchy about the rows of rubbish bins lining our street early in the morning (presuming drunken teenagers the night before haven't thrown them all on their sides, of course). All off to landfill. And duplicated at millions of other homes throughout the world every week or so. I don't believe we can continue this dumping process much longer. It is simply unsustainable.

There were some peevish comments from some about putting our downloads...

Under the headline "Labor Shortage Persists In Some Fields," the Wall Street Journal (2/7, Light; subscription required) reports the number of people looking for jobs may number almost 14 million, but so far there are still four open computer engineering jobs at startup firm Gowalla Inc. of Austin. The company wants more programmers to add to a 27-member staff, but finding those people is difficult. CEO Josh Williams said, "Most people we want are employed somewhere already." The scenario is...

Attend a thought provoking debate and presentation on the best way forward in terms of bringing our drawing systems into the 21st Century. Session 1: 9am GMT on Wednesday 2nd March 2011 Link to time converter for Session 1 Session 2: 11pm GMT on Wednesday 2nd March 2011 Link to time converter for Session 2 Join us for a complimentary live, interactive web-based session entitled “Why our drawings systems are broken and what to do about it”. During this 45 minute session we’ll use a number of...

The New Year beckons with some urgency. I am currently lounging around magnificent New Zealand with family but have been inspired by the activities of the engineering professionals here who have done such a brilliant job with design, manufacture and export of everything ranging from dairy products (and other agricultural products), engineering design services, boating, heavy engineering equipment to state-of-the-art broadcast systems.

And I have probably left a lot out. All from a population...

As engineering professionals we are all trained to be logical and rational and rely on proven facts in making decisions. The approach with engineers is to vigorously apply the blowtorch to any concept which is rather nebulous and stick to solid engineering design practice. However as Margot Cairnes, a leadership strategist recently pointed out: ‘This often means being conventional, boring and underperforming (when creating solutions to difficult problems). In a changing world, creativity...

Due to popular demand for our e-learning courses to be presented in Arabic, and to make it more affordable, we are now offering several new e-learning certificate courses presented by our expert bilingual instructors. You should still expect the same high quality and standard of our internationally accredited/recognised courses, but now, you are able to attend the courses with the added benefits: Presented in Arabic and English Highly affordable - 4 free reference manuals included valued at the...

Dear colleagues

First of all - best wishes for a great 2011 and thanks for reading this. The signs are that this is going to be an excellent year for engineering professionals - no matter where you are in the world, the demand for your services is rapidly increasing. As we have the northern hemisphere in the grip of a ferocious winter, a few thoughts on the technology and engineering of skiing and snowboarding and how it reflects on your engineering work.

On the overall physics, there...

Dear Colleagues

I am always filled with some horror when I look at the quality of documents I have put together some time ago. So, an improved version on Myths and Best  Practice with industrial data communications and hazardous areas at the end of this. Forgive my terse dispatch this week, but I am on the road drumming up support for our engineering degree programs from various universities and accreditation authorities.

Here I list some practical guidelines when applying your next...

Dear Colleagues,

As an engineering professional, you have no doubt come across MCCs (or motor control centres) at some time in your life. This is an assembly of one or more enclosed sections having a common power bus, mainly containing motor control units. This can include variable frequency/speed drives, PLCs and metering. Typically, but not exclusively, used for low voltage 230 Vac to 600Vac motors. Each motor controller contains a contactor, overload relays, fuses or circuit breaker...

Dear Colleagues

In essence, the more experience a firm has in producing a particular product or service, the lower its costs are. Fairly obvious one would think, but something we often don’t consider when planning a large project or job (especially one which has a degree of repetition in it). The Boston Consulting Group noticed that a semi-conductor company’s unit cost of manufacturing fell by about 25% for each doubling of the volume produced. Hence the conclusion that costs can decline...

Dear Colleagues

The splatter of body parts and guts in the nightly feast of crime and police shows has made forensics a household name. And the emphasis today has shifted to high tech forensic methods which make the scientist and engineer a key individual in solving some dastardly crime. A few engineering colleagues are involved in forensics and I have always been fascinated by their painstaking and meticulous work (and indeed hourly rates which are similar to that of our wealthier...

Catastrophic Engineering Failure: What it means. Real examples and ways to identify. A Practical Tool box approach in 45 minutes
9am GMT on Wednesday November 24 (for your local time click here)
Attend a thought provoking web presentation by Prof. Steve Mackay, facilitated by Ric Harrison, on this very interesting topic. Examples from structural failure in chemical and electrical engineering.
‘A catastrophic failure is a sudden and total failure of some system from which recovery is...

Dear Colleagues

Imagine scanning a broken part that is no longer available (for your vintage car) into your computer and then printing out (in 3-dimensions) a replacement in plastic in 60 minutes. A few further adjustments and then you print out the finished version (which you may also give to a machinist to make a metal copy of). This is what is happening today throughout the world – a good example being Mr Jay Leno (the well known hated and loved celebrity) who has his own 3-d printing...

Dear Colleagues

I think we all agree. Batteries are critical to the development of portable (electrical) devices. And lithium-ion batteries have been up there in driving the portability revolution. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries hold more charge in a lighter package (as lithium is the lightest metal – hydrogen is not a metal) and have dramatically improved the performance of phones to small electric aircraft. But they do have one drawback – they charge and discharge too rapidly (and the...

Dear Colleagues

‘You see things; and you say Why? But I dream things that never were; and I say Why not? (George Bernard Shaw). I believe that one of the great signs of leadership is in questioning what you do, in identifying new ways of doing things and taking your co-workers or organisation to innovative and new territory.

Leadership is something that all great engineering professionals should work on achieving. Business and life is extraordinarily turbulent at present. And I believe...

Dear Colleagues

Please forgive me dear (engineering) reader (and perhaps, gardener) but surely there is nothing more irritating than the strident noise of lawnmowers or mulching machines with their staccato crackling sound on a quiet Saturday afternoon ? In my book, silence is often more desirable than privacy. This short note is on noise and why and how we deal with it.

The decibel

The decibel was created in the 1920’s by the Bell Telephone Labs and is widely used in audio...

Dear Colleagues

‘A sheet of graphene (a form of carbon that appears as hexagonal shapes arranged in a flat layer) the same thickness as plastic refrigerator wrap, stretched over a coffee cup, can support the weight of a truck bearing down on a pencil point’ (New York Times).

Besides being incredibly strong, it is an unimaginably thin material, stiff and yet stretchable, a super conductor of electricity and the best known conductor of heat. And it is chemically inert. Although only...

Dear Colleagues

Recently a motorist had his finger chopped off so that thieves could steal his expensive car. He was using biometric based fingerprint identification for the car. In applying biosecurity technologies, my concern and experience has been the slowness of the technology in identifying an individual. Not so much how reliable the technology is. But indeed, this reliability issue is perhaps its greatest weakness in terms of identifying all humans uniquely.

Why bother to read...

Dear Colleagues

‘The explosive nature of a pipeline,is not far away from the force of a military explosion.’  So remarked Jim Hall, former (American) NTSB chairman. As recently as 2008, a natural gas explosion in Sacramento, killed one and injured two others. And in San Bruno, California on the Sept 2010, a high pressure natural gas line exploded killing seven people and injuring more than 50 others. As an aside, the San Bruno pipeline’s design was such that ‘smart pigs’ couldn’t be used...

Thinking about studying in 2010/2011?
 
Join us for a live, interactive web-based session that provides tips and tricks for study that work.  During this 45 minute session we’ll focus on the special requirements of distance learning (e-learning), looking at 5 myths before moving onto 8 “best practice” tips, distilled from many years of experience.  Your presenter will be Dr Steve Mackay, the foundation Dean of Engineering at the EIT.
 
We introduce a winning formula – 3 ingredients that...

Dear Colleagues,

It is all quite frustrating - the more you learn about a particular technology, the less you feel you know – esp. in the context of measuring flow rates. The story of engineering, I guess. Flowmeters touch us in every engineering discipline; hence it is definitely worthwhile pondering the latest and numerous developments in flowmeter technology and how you can take advantage of them. Obviously, the main improvements in all flowmeters have been in the electronics...

Dear Colleagues

Imagine deriving the entire power for a country from hot rocks a few kms below the earth’s surface. Read on about a clever (but very difficult) technology to extract energy from a virtually inexhaustible pollution free source, which as engineering professionals you need to be aware of, as you may be called to comment on.  However, as experts have pointed out, drilling into fractured granite is technically very challenging with no power produced commercially as...

Dear Colleagues

Most people tend to underestimate or misunderstand energy savings – according to the latest research that is. We tend to focus on insignificant savings such as upgrading light bulbs and twiddling thermostats. Most people grasp the broad and basic issues about energy savings; but they are decidedly unsure about the details, especially when estimating. Apparently participants in the research underestimated both energy use and savings by almost a factor of 3. They also...

Dear Colleagues

Windpower is shaping up as the main source of renewable power and the key competitor to fossil fuels; although apparently 85% of wind projects overestimated their production. As we all know with the uncertainty of wind, there are problems with getting the power at the right time. And storage of power generated when the wind is really pumping is still a tricky area. So this is where an entirely new field of statistics is developing – this is a vital part of generating wind power...

Dear Colleagues

In contrast to the well defined structures of engineering, it never ceases to fascinate me how the topsy-turvy way business actually works. In many cases, defying the laws of logic (and as the old saying goes: rewarding the guilty and punishing the innocent).

There are six important issues to always bear in mind to extract maximum value from the business world whilst working in engineering.

Customers are not always obvious. Customers are not only the external guys who...

Dear Colleague

Although I can hear a few of you muttering... 'obviously a jack of all trades and master of none'; one of  my passions is the study of engineering professionals working and collaborating remotely especially in remote configuration and testing of industrial automation systems. The rapid growth in broadband, the need to reduce travel and accommodation costs as well as reduce green house gases (from travel), makes this a very relevant topic.

As the ITU remark; “It’s good to...

Dear Colleagues

As you know, with the recent release of the various Apple iPhones and iPads; innovation tuned into the market is highly prized and rewarded. Rupert Murdoch, the news media magnate, predicts that tens of millions of iPads will be sold over the next few years. He remarked about the Apple CEO, Jobs: ‘He's got such incredible focus. He's got such power inspiring the people around him who work for him. And, you know, it's -- it's a highly, highly disciplined company... and it...

Dear Colleagues

Remember those noisy motorbikes with plumes of smoke pouring behind them as they tore down the street? I grew up with them and aspired for one, although in some respects they were death-traps for teenagers. You don’t see many two-stroke engines on the road today; they have survived in lawnmowers, chainsaws and hedge-trimmers. Cheap, light and compact makes for a good garden appliance.

A two-stroke engine applies the KISS (Keep it simple Stupid) principle with panache, so...

Dear Colleagues

One thing that we as engineering professionals tend to shy away from, is asking for a raise or an increase in fees for services we deliver to clients. Engineers and technicians tend to enjoy and focus on the engineering and technical issues and generally get short changed on their fees and salaries. We get enormous satisfaction from doing technical things but contemplating our fee or hourly rate is often considered demeaning and unprofessional (and indeed for most of us...

Dear Colleague

Jay Forrester, inventor of Random Access Memory, is one of those pioneering engineers who, from an early age, liked to get his hands dirty and build things. In the thirties, when his parent's ranch had no electricity, he built a working, wind driven, 12 volt electrical generator out of old car parts. Jay recently pointed out "Students need to get into the real world and do things with their hands. Learn by doing... Many of today's students are out of touch with the real...

Dear Colleagues

Many of us tend to regard the developing (poorer) world as a great market for our so-called innovative products from the west. Let’s face it - with the inevitable doomsday talk of a double dip recession, there is a heightened twitchiness around the world at present, so any new market in which to sell our services and products is welcome. However, there is a rapidly developing area where new products are being designed and built in the developing (or poorer) world; this...

We believe you’ll be curious about our next complimentary “Open Day” webinar. It will be presented live on Wednesday July 14 at 8.30am GMT (9.30am London, 10.30am South Africa, 4.30pm Western Australia). Link to time converter for Webinar Session Watch and participate in a Live electrical power system relay lab session. Using our cutting-edge technologies we will show you how remote laboratories are integrated into our educational programs. You’ll be able to listen and observe as our Technical...

Dear Colleagues

I've just returned from presenting a series of intensive courses on Industrial Automation covering everything from process control, PLC's and industrial data communications. A subject close to my heart and vital to our long term success in maintaining viable businesses and engineering jobs. As I note below.

An incredibly successful application of industrial automation was  highlighted this week with the death of Nicolas Hayek, who 'saved' the Swiss watchmaking industry. You...

Dear Colleagues

At the end of this newsletter, you can get the details on downloading your 20 page chapter on good installation practice for PLC’s.

Why should you read this short note below about transferring power wirelessly? Well; like it or not, it is definitely a method that will be used extensively in the future. So, another useful concept to consider in your next design and to add to your engineering toolbox. Maybe not today, but very soon.

Transferring Power Wirelessly

Nikola Tesla –...

Dear Colleagues

When designing or constructing a product, we specify the requirements (and design features) in copious detail. But one set of items we tend to leave out are the unwanted requirements (or the do not do’s). This comment probably sounds odd (demented ?). However, we tend to focus on the positives in a design or in constructing or commissioning equipment. If you think of the recent Toyota recall, with the accelerator pedal operation which was not controllable, perhaps if the...

Dear Colleagues

We’ve all been watching the BP Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused by the explosion and collapse of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. And we all have a response. There are those who are horrified about the environmental catastrophe, others who wonder about the technology and engineering expertise necessary at those depths and obviously there are those who consider the inevitable safety issues. There will even be those who are wondering about the future impact on the...

EIT's Technical Director, Steve Mackay, enjoys keeping his blog up-to-date with useful tips and current industry matters for his fellow colleagues. He has a loyal and expanding following base reaching over 300,000 people around the world.

In this section you have the opportunity to read and listen to EIT students talking about the reality of the programs. Discussions are wide-ranging and include information about the study commitment required, the value of the qualification in their careers, the relevance of the subject matter, future pathways, and more. They provide valuable feedback for you to take into account before you decide to join one of our programs.

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Here you will find out more about the latest trends and developments within education worldwide, along with some helpful articles regarding study tips and keeping on track with your studies.

The latest innovation and inventions from the world of engineering can be found here. Learn about advances in technology and how they can make a real difference within your industry. 

Keep up to date with the latest announcements from the Engineering Institute of Technology. In this section you can read more about new courses, new recognition from professional bodies, our Excellence in Teaching Award, upcoming free webinars and much more.

We understand that you may not have time to read all the articles that we post, so our monthly update gives you access to some fascinating articles which cover the best of the months news in a compact format.

The key objective of the Engineering Institute of Technology is to provide outstanding practical engineering and technology education. Together with several industry and educational partners we gladly share the following resources and information to assist you along your professional development path. Please note that some of the articles will open a new internet browser tab and redirect you to other partner websites.

The Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) is dedicated to ensuring our students receive a world-class education and gain skills they can immediately implement in the workplace upon graduation. Our staff members uphold our ethos of honesty and integrity, and we stand by our word because it is our bond. Our students are also expected to carry this attitude throughout their time at our institute, and into their careers.