If you believe everything you hear about the Internet, then you probably think it's a wild festival of video and sound, populated by Generation X hackers and interminably "wired" multimedia developers. Like all media-fueled stereotypes, these images overlook the Net's more important but less salient features. Foremost: lots of serious work is being accomplished over the Internet, and engineers are both significant users and primary beneficiaries.
Nothing since the introduction of CAD is expected to have such widespread impact on the way engineers work. "The Internet is a competitive advantage," says Dr. John Gebhardt, chief scientist at InterCAP Graphics Systems, Annapolis, MD. "If you're using it, your transaction times are going toward zero and you're accelerating your time-to-market."
Daratech, an industry analysis firm in Cambridge, MA, estimates that the Internet is expanding at 10% a month. Web-site name registrations at the InterNIC exceed 1,000 a week; worldwide, several tens of millions are on the Net, and Design News' (www.designnews.com) own figures show roughly 50% of engineering CAD users have access to the Inte