Probably one of the most interesting job titles to come along in recent years is that of "Webmaster." Many companies have them. They are the people who, among other things, perform the technical miracles that bring web pages to life, giving them the look, feel, and content that is making them such a large and popular distribution channel for information.
But, there is a new class of Webmaster arising: the engineers who are using Internet technology to improve their ability to design high-quality products faster and cheaper. They're not cybernauts from the arcane world of bits and bytes, just product developers who have recognized the potential the Net offers for improving the design process.
They're taking advantage of chat groups/technical forums, product and literature information, and news on technology that they find on sites such as our own at www.designnews.com. And, they're forming their own intranets to link up with colleagues and information sources inside their own companies. Design News Western Technical Editor Mark Gottschalk and Internet Editor Paula Porter report on some of the successes these new, unofficial Webmasters are having in this issue.
Vendor companies, too, are mastering the Web and other electronic technology in an effort to support design engineers. For example, Parametric Technology Corp. last month released its new Pro/ENGINE software, a reusable modeling road-map of Pro/ENGINEER processes for designing and manufacturing automotive engines. Next month, it will release Pro/INTRALINK, software for managing the information communication necessary for effective concurrent design. Both are Web-enabled.
More examples: Autodesk has produced an Internet version of its PartSpec catalog of mechanical parts; Some of Bentley Microsystems' products include tools for exporting CAD models as Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) files for posting to the Internet or intranets; and Adra Systems is beta-testing technology to allow engineers to access data through its Matrix product data management system over the Web.
Despite the exotic title, there is little wizardry required to become an unofficial Webmaster. All it takes is recognition of the power and potential the Internet offers to streamline the design process. Don't take our word for that power. Visit www.designnews.com and other sites and see for yourself.
Your opinion counts. E-mail me at pteague @cahners.com