on June 4th, 2008

Dear Colleagues

1. Last night, I watched with a curious mixture of concern, bewilderment and delight at my 10 year old son expertly bundling up an animated video he had made, and then uploading it to Youtube – the ubiquitous video site. My concern was for someone so young exposed to the questionable content in the internet video arena; my bewilderment at how quickly and easily he had mastered the process and my delight at the engineering training opportunities available to all of us. As a multimedia tool for learning, video has probably been around longer than anything else. In the past, it has been difficult to deploy, compared to text, slides and audio. But bandwidth poses fewer problems than ever before and storage has crashed in cost. There are many ways to store your videos now (eg. Youtube), (some?) of the editing software is easier to use and (video) cameras have dropped in price. The biggest challenge is to master the basics of using the camera and lighting – and, naturally, making good instructional use of the video (this can be easily learnt and is an enormously enjoyable experience).

Over the past few weeks, we have commenced a process of amassing an enormous number of video clips for our courses. Admittedly most of those from the Net are fairly mediocre, with the exception of some gems which possess enormous power for a 2 to 3 minute presentation. A couple of these links are listed here:

  • An animated demo of TCP/IP and Ethernet -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbY8Hb6abbg
  • A huge explosion at the marshmallow factory – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8HcQ1Va6RY
  • Electrical accidents such as arc flash and power cable failure – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKRudUOSFE4 Programming a PLC – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvS_BuQlSXo .

It would be great if you could send us any that you feel are good. I will then compile a list of yours and ours and post these great engineering videos for everyone to access.

2. Our weekly engineering web conferencing sessions continue to gather steam with over 30 enthusiastic participants in one presentation last week. If you want to join us and make your own technical presentation (a max.of 45 minutes) please let me know and we will schedule you in. You are welcome to join just as a participant and see what it is all about.
Last week I was gratified (and perhaps rather embarrassed) to have world class experts – who know infinitely more than I do – attend my presentations on Process Control Loop tuning. Mike Brown kindly gave us some useful, practical tips on what works and what doesn’t. And this week Ian Verhappen, fresh from an ISA Fieldbus meeting, gave us a brief run-down on where he felt Fieldbus and Industrial Ethernet was moving. Thanks so much to both of these veterans of the Instrumentation and Control system industry. Both, by the way, didn’t hesitate when using the medium and scribbled away on the whiteboard and chatted to everyone as if they were sharing a few moments over a cup of coffee. Exhilarating to see this free exchange of information occurring.

However, with this plethora of new technology around, bear in mind, Carrie P. Snow’s comment: “Technology……is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.”

Yours in engineering learning


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