In last month's column, I noted my plans to launch a social media group
for online interaction with Design News' global audience. I'm
happy to announce that the group is now up and running and can be accessed here.
So that we're all on the same page with
the intent of this group, here's an outline of the initial plan: The site, at
present, consists of a discussion area and a news area. The discussion area is
reserved for actual discussion topics — not news announcements or promotion of
any kind. Acceptable topics include anything related to Design News' realm
of coverage, which includes: automation & control, electronics/test,
materials & assembly, and software/hardware design tools. We may eventually
create subgroups on the main group site to accommodate vertical discussions,
but for now, the main group site will be a catch all.
Please feel free to post discussion topics on the group site.
Though you will regularly see us feeding new topics into the discussion area,
this group is for you. We'll manage the group and remove non-relevant
discussions ASAP, but the main idea is to have you play an active role — that's
not only what makes it more interesting, it also makes it more valuable to you
and your engineering peers. So go ahead, ask a question about the optimal use
of a particular MCU, get feedback from others about specific material types,
inquire as to whether anyone has yet tried a wireless connection for automation
networks, find out what your peers think about certain software capabilities,
etc. Feel free to dish out some controversial issues for response as well — as
long as it's relevant to the group's topics and not libelous, of course. Within
reason, our intent is to keep this group as no-holds-barred as possible.
Beyond the ability of this group to be
the avenue for connecting with your peers on a global basis, it will also serve
to help guide Design
News' editorial direction. Once a solid critical mass of members
have joined the group, seeing what kinds of issues really take hold with the
group will keep the Design
News editorial team tuned in — in real-time — with the topics
that are of highest interest to you.
With all that said, I would be remiss if I did not address
some of the negative feedback I have already received about our plans for
leveraging social media to connect with the global design engineering audience.
Some of the comments I have received include:
discussion groups are packed with people "trying to sell something."
"Since I am neither a
teenager nor sexually frustrated adult, I don't have any need" for social
Based on my experience in creating social media groups for
engineers and research conducted with those groups, I have found that the
average member of such groups tends to be in his/her late 30s or early-to-mid
40s with 10-plus years of experience in engineering. These engineers join these
groups to stay on top of the latest engineering issues, have a sounding board
for their questions and concerns, and to connect with their peers on a much
broader level than is possible through work or a conference-type of
environment. And as I noted above, the site will be regularly monitored to
remove discussion posts from people who are only trying to sell something and
not truly contribute to the conversation.
I look forward to connecting with you in our new social media
group and seeing what you have to say.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.