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Help by wire

Help by wire

One of the great things about the booming Internet technology is the opportunity it offers to exchange ideas with peers in the same or different industries thousands of miles away.

Got an immediate problem? You can send out a general query asking for advice from others who have had the same or a similar problem, and benefit from their experience.

Or, you can join a "chat" group and get in on discussions about hot topics of professional interest. offers two ways to take advantage of the Net's capability for linking engineers together. By clicking on "Newsgroups," you can pose questions and get answers on technical basics in electronics, mechanics, and other fields. Among recent queries from users were suggestions for solution strategies for analysis of thin elastic shells, and tips on how to control large motors without getting power transistors too hot.

By clicking on the icon for "Forums," you can have a dialogue with other engineers on virtually any topic you choose.

Recently, one user took advantage of "Forums" to ask others about their experiences with design reviews. Defer arguments on conflicting solutions to one-on-one meetings, advised one reader. And welcome design reviews with non-peers, such as operations personnel, the same reader said, because their questions force you to think about their needs when it comes to im-plementing your design.

But, said another "Forum" participant, be sure to brief all those who will be in the review meeting on what you hope to accomplish, and establish firm ground rules. Otherwise, the review can take on a negative spin.

Other topics users are discussing in "Forums" include steps to take if you can't get support for a design idea, and how to keep your engineering job in tough economic times. There's no end to the kind of questions you can pose on the net through such a chat group.

Chat groups are one more way for members of the design community to connect with each other for their mutual benefit. Could a chat group help you solve that complex material or component problem you're wrestling with now? You never know, but it is one more resource for you to draw upon. And as all engineers know, the more information you can get the better off you are.

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