Yes, Rich, if you ask five people you get five answers. You can also get five answers if you ask one person. Most of us have multiple sources. I like the comment that reader Rafael Lopez made above: "Read, read, read." My favorite sources are consumer pubs, first, followed by trade pubs, press releases and TRUSTED Internet sites, such as engineering societies. Consumer pubs get the news first, trade pubs add technical depth. One of the best sources for me, though, is the old-fashioned trade show and, finally, the telephone. Talking to people and being able to ask ask questions is still hard to beat.
I agree with Chuck on the use of multiple sources, and there are definitely days when I can give multiple answers to the same question. I also still rely a lot on phone discussions with industry sources. I try to find sources who are well-connected nodes in their own networks, so they see a lot and have a lot to say
I agree with that, Chuck. Asking questions can get you behind the public details (be it press release or presentation) to the real story. Asking questions can get you to the real story on how products or events affect how engineers do their jobs.
Chuck, I am a systems and software engineering consultant. I have been a member of the IEEE for over a quarter of a century. I have always found the conferences useful. Lately I have been involved in the local section (I am the secretary for a subsection and the chair of the local Computer Society chapter). Giving back is both gratifying and useful for staying informed. I also like the publications. I am never without one and I read whenever I have a chance. I have also started giving lectures at IEEE meetings. Researching the topics for a presentation can be very useful.
Of cource, publications like Design News and EE Times are very informative. It helps to keep up with trends in the industry.
Your comment "Giving back is both gratifying and useful for staying informed" and "Researching the topics for a presentation can be very useful" reminded me of a past remark I made herein (DN) about education and how the IEEE, SPE, and local executives supported school systems in the North Texas Metroplex. One of the replys made to me was how to circumvent higher education to save thoes costs via chosing other vocations. This surely is true since I have met Hot Dog vendors that make far more than PEs. I guess the question becomes, what human inter- actions satisfy ones personality needs?
For systems oriented people l think a wide variety of publications contribute to our widely varied opinions, so for kicka I offer my perferred reading list as a commercial systems corporation exec.
In no particular order, it is:
Sound & Video Contractor, Boating Industry, Via Satellite, Healthcare AV, Digital Signage, Live Sound International, EE Evaulation Engineering, Power & Motoryacht, Showboats International, Information Week, SVC sound & video contractor, Commercial Integrator, event DV, Sound & Communitations, and other digital pubs such as DN. We retain all print publications in our reference libarary for at least 3 years and those we are featured in permanently.
As a test engineer, one of the most fun parts of my job was figuring out how to test the parameters required by the product engineer for products that were often new to market and thus new to us, including emerging technologies. This often required research on new technologies and was definitely an important part of the job. The internet has always been a great springboard for information that could lead to specific technical articles and application notes. Going to trade shows is a great way to learn of new technologies while providing excellent networking opportunities that can also lead to learning opportunities. Getting on the phone and asking to talk to tech support of a company that manufactures a product you are interested in can also be helpful. With the marketplace being so competitive, many companies are offering webinars and seminars - great places to get one's feet wet. One resource that is often overlooked is the online community - there are often forums available full of folks that are willing to share their knowledge in very specific areas.
One good way to stay on top of the latest developments is to participate in technical conferences. Participating doesn't just mean attending; it could also mean reviewing paper submssions. Not only do you get to read about advances in technology before anyone else does, you also get to give your feedback to the authors, and help them to improve their papers. You often also get discounts on conference registration. (Anyone who is interested in reviewing a materials-themed paper for the 2012 SAE Small Engine Technology Conference, please e-mail me).
I strongly recommend attending at least one conference per year, and going to the technical presentations, rather than just walking the show floor. Try to go with a friend in your field, maybe a former classmate. Take notes. Ask questions, both during the question-and-answer period, and afterwards during the breaks. Get business cards from people who have interesting things to say, and stay in touch after the conference. See how many new ideas you can take back with you. I suspect you'll find that it was well worth the trip.
Chuck, I agree with your view on multiple sources for information. I'm sure that respected vendors are also providing education on a consistent basis. The relationships need to work, not just sales contact, but often engineers rely on industry contacts that they've come to trust to provide technological guidance especially in new technology areas.
Nothing like getting your hands on something new and taking time to learn about how it works, how it solves an engineering problem, what it cannot do, and so on. I work a lot with microcontrollers and like to get a small development board and jump into the hardware and learn how to use the software tools. Always something new to learn.
My state recently changed the requirement for maintaining my PE license. Instead of being able to focus my limited training time on things that are of specific interest to my job and professional development, I now need to make sure they have CEU's or PDH's attached to them. Luckily, some of this is available through my membership in the IEEE Computer Society. Unfortunately, another requirement is that a chunk of the hours have to be with a "live" instructor with student interaction.
Jack you infer a good question which requires an elaborate detailed anwser. Since I seem to have, unknowingly, been blessed by (of use to) various players of widely differing agendas and opinions relative to educational degrees, certifications, and CECs I should like to relate my experiences to you and all who read this.
It all began in my attending several colleges in New England at the same time. It became a mess due to several of the schools I was attending being merged and moreover name changes and staff consolidation that followed. I didn't help the matter since I insisted attending certain night classes to get the profs that did consulting days while their grad students taught the classes they should have. In short disputs exist about my transcripts to this day. PS I will be 70 next year.
So how did this affect me over the last 30 years? Not badly at all as I see it! I enjoy a good reputation in various fields, have served on advisory boards of three colleges, built four corporations, am a retired military officer, a high time pilot, still married to the same woman, have nine grand kids, one greart grand kid and one more on the way.
So how does the scrambled eggs behind your name group (professional educators, state certification offices, pro-orgs, etc.) see this? They see it ALL FOR THE MONEY! Ask yourself why a full time programmer, engineer, teacher, or other worker using standard software, code, specs, techniques, etc and attending their relative professional groups meetings is required to meet standards set by others external to their chosen profession. Yes it is FOR THE MONEY!
Ozark Sage, I understand what you're saying, however, what's the financial advantage for the State to change the registration requirements? Most of the continuing education will be done through private sources, rather than through the universities. In fact, most of it will probably be done online, through the employer or through out-of-state businesses, yielding nothing to the state - or to the Department of Licensing.
Depends on how they stand on State reissue proceedures and Inter State association agreements, etc. For example Jack, CCCCD in Plano TX 10 years ago under the dirrection of Dean Ann Beheler, started the Convergence Technology program that quickly found huge success. So much so that Dallas TI engineers attend CCCCD to upgrade their 90K$/yr jobs into 120K$ to 150K$/yr jobs.
This became a new registration opportunity for states (many over the last 10 years) that also codified these opportunities into/for revenue production not to mention gold for the the educators. In CCCCD's case the federal grant cash was so persistant that Orange County CA stole Ann away to start their West Coast program. Expansion has continued ever since coast to coast, boarder to boarded. In short one of the best new producers of cash flows in the last ten years for folks that like hands on (other than a computer keyboard) employment!
I should note that Systems Technology Integration, offered at schools like UT Dallas, is sometimes confused orwrongly refered to as Systems Convergence Technology, which is NOT the same and the terms should not be used interchangeably. [For those interested see the CCCCD Convergence Technology their web site.]
I like to play with new devices and breadboard them. Nothing is better than to see the results of having something new work out, or troubleshooting something that didn't work out.
Plus, Design News has lots of on-line training, as does DigiKey. And reading these articles, and those of other publications as Electronic Design or EDN gives me a smattering of new information from lots of perspectives.
Then of course, Ideas for Design is my all time favorite for keeping up with circuits.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.