@bobjengr: I appreciate your comments and glad our coverage can help. I hear what you're saying with Facebook--too much information (or TMI, in granddaughter speak). That said, this new breed of social collaboration platform for product development is designed to work within the proven security constructs of the modern-day enterprise. They just incorporate some of the newer conventions for eliciting community and collaboration and for finding people and information more easily.
Beth--Great article. You have once again provided me with information that will benefit my company. We have locations in Chattanooga, Atlanta, Bangor and Hawaii. Communication is a nightmare. Vuuch could just be the answer to one of our biggest problems. Some time ago, I tried Facebook to keep up with my granddaughters in Atlanta. Let's just say there are some things a grandparent does NOT need to know. In my opinion it's a web site totally unsuited for engineers (and adults for that matter.) One big concern for me is the privacy aspects of any type of social media. This is a real concern but Vuuch indicates they have overcome some, if not most, of the issues with privacy. Great work.
Good points, Beth. Even so, I still hear social media get a bad rap among engineers. That may change in time as the simple functionality of social media applications become useful. There also may be a generational component to this. Young engineers will likely not have the same resistance.
There is a ton of silly stuff that transpires on Facebook. Probably more silly than serious, no doubt. But that doesn't mean the paradigm--not the platform--doesn't have merit for advancing communication. Think about your TV--plenty of silly stuff gets transmitted, but that doesn't take away from the medium's ability to beam news and other relevant programming to information consumers. Same for your smart phone. Mine is loaded up with ridiculous apps downloaded by my kids, but that doesn't take away from the phone's utility for texting, email, and phone calls.
Hadn't thought of it that way, Beth, but out comments section really is a form of social networking. I think Facebook gets a bad rap because it is so heavily used by teenagers for activities that engineers may view as frivilous.
It's like the Beatles. When I was young, grownups thought it was silly music. Later on it became widely regarded as the best music of its century.
It's definitely getting people over the mindset that social capabilities equate with Facebook or Twitter. I don't know people, engineers or any other professional, that relies too heavily on Facebook for real work-related tasks other than possible networking or listening into what customers are saying about their products or services. Yet the interaction paradigms Facebook and other social platforms introduce are important. Not too different than what happens on the Design News community with people wading in with comments, pointers to articles that advance the discussion, even tips and best practices gleaned from prior work experiences. That is communication.
Once people get over the word social they get it. So it is not really that they are skeptical but rather the frame of reference is off. This reminds me of the early days of feature based solid modeling. Many customers would say but how do I draw a line? You don't. Huh? But now look where we are, feature based sollid model is almost a commodity.
What is very interesting is if you ask the skeptic what their biggest problems are – you will be told communication. Well if that isn't a social problem then I'll eat my hat.
Product development is a social activity. Product development requires discussion and the primary feature of social is discussion.
This shows a new approach to social media in the design engineering environment. Moves like this may help garner some respect for social media in the design environment. Judging from comments here, many of those in the design engineering profession are skeptical of social media.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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.