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Engineering & Technology

Issue 21 • Date December 6-19 2008

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Displaying Results 1 - 25 of 31
  • Engineering and Technology - cover

    Page(s): C1
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  • Table of contents

    Page(s): 1
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  • Editorial - [This issue]

    Page(s): 2
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    WE DON'T usually do the special Christmas cover but it's been such an eventful and difficult year for the economy that many of our readers will welcome a break even more than usual. View full abstract»

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  • News - [Briefing latest]

    Page(s): 3 - 12
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  • Analysis asian moon - [Briefing in depth]

    Page(s): 13
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    Next time you look up at the Moon, consider the fact that three spacecraft in orbit around it were designed and built, not in Europe or the US, but in Asia. When India's Chandrayaan-1 slipped into lunar orbit on 8 November, it joined Japan's Kaguya and China's Chang'e-1, launched in September and October 2007, respectively. This is not to suggest that NASA and the European Space Agency are no longer involved in lunar exploration. Following the US President's call for America to return astronauts to the Moon, there has been significant increase in activity. For example, NASA's next unmanned lunar mission the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is expected to launch in April 2009 on a mission to provide a detailed map of the Moon for future manned missions. A secondary payload, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, is intended to "excavate the permanently dark floor of one of the Moon's polar craters with two heavy impactors... to test the theory that ancient ice lies buried there". Meanwhile, the remains of Europe's first Moon probe, SMART-1, lie somewhere on the volcanic plain known as the 'Lake of Excellence', following a successful three-year mission and removal from lunar orbit in September 2006. However, until LRO arrives, lunar orbit is in the loosest sense solely Asian territory. This may come as a surprise to those whose knowledge of national space programmes is gleaned only from the media, but the leading Asian space nations have been active space powers since the 1970s. Japan and China saw their first Earth-orbiting satellites launched within a few months of each other, in February and April 1970, followed by India in April 1975. The juxtaposition of the current lunar missions has led to speculation regarding an 'Asian space race', a sort of extraterrestrial projection of economic competitiveness, but it is just as likely to be happy coincidence. Japan launched its first lunar orbiter, Hiten, as long ago as 1990. The mothership even- - injected a tiny sub-satellite, Hagoromo, into lunar orbit before completing its mission and conducting a de-orbit manoeuvre into the crater Furnerius. So if there was such thing as an Asian Moon race, Japan won it years ago. While China's agenda is almost certainly a political one, its contention is more likely with the West and its aims far greater than orbiting a box of electronics around the Moon. The progress of China's efforts in manned spaceflighthaving graduated from first solo-flight to three-man-crew and spacewalk in five years is impressive, but its published intentions to conduct a space station mission by 2011 suggest a move towards longer-duration flights. From there, as space aficionados delight in saying, "it's only three days to the Moon". According to Luo Ge, vice administrator of the China National Space Administration, the nation has an ambitious lunar exploration programme that will see an automated rover on the Moon by 2012 and a sample return mission in 2017. Putting the manned and unmanned capabilities together, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that China aims to send its first astronauts to the Moon in the same timeframe as America (around 2020). Indeed, even NASA administrator Mike Griffin has admitted that the next man or woman on the Moon is as likely to be Chinese as American. Although his comments are probably aimed at Congress in the hope of a budget increase, and possibly designed to create an upsurge of national pride among the American public, he is renowned for 'telling it like it is'. So America should be prepared to take second place. India, meanwhile, has already proposed its own manned spaceflight programme, with an ultimate goal (however unsubstantiated) of landing an Indian on the Moon. This 'talking up' of space capabilities, and the reality of the Chandrayaan-1 mission, comes as no surprise to long-term space watchers, but has caused a degree of unrest in India. Since the nation's first satellite, Aryabhata View full abstract»

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  • Letters - [Opinion feedback]

    Page(s): 14 - 15
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  • If you ask me - [Opinion first person]

    Page(s): 16
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    Forensic investigation based dramas have more influence on the educational agenda than Government or the needs of industry. View full abstract»

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  • The ghost of xmas future - [Engineering future]

    Page(s): 18 - 23
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    This paper presents a forecast on what "xmas" will be like 12 years from now. View full abstract»

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  • The turkey's answer to oil - [Engineering biofuels]

    Page(s): 24 - 25
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    America's turkeys now have something else to fear on top of Thanksgiving and Christmas. View full abstract»

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  • The razing of the cutty sark - [Engineering heritage]

    Page(s): 28 - 29
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    On 21 May 2007, the Cutty Sark, the famous clipper kept in dry dock in Greenwich, was badly damaged in a fire. View full abstract»

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  • Gadgets - [Network kit]

    Page(s): 30 - 31
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    Brush away those credit crunch blues with some must-have gizmos this winter View full abstract»

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  • Don't look down - [Electronics business]

    Page(s): 32 - 35
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    The article discusses recession is already hitting the semiconductor business but tight capacity might mean a rapid turnaround in fortunes. The semiconductor business can manoeuvre itself into having a bad year in a good economy. But when it's a bad economy, the chip business has to work hard to not fall into recession. Most of the problem lies in chip pricing. The unit shipments of integrated circuits (ICs) have shrunk year-on-year only twice. Once was in 1985 when the general economy was in rude health; the second was 2001 when GDP growth slipped below 3 per cent. The problem is that the value of the industry has fallen more often because pricing slips out of control during recessions. View full abstract»

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  • Together again - [Electronics design]

    Page(s): 36 - 37
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    Electronic and mechanical CAD are close to reaching an understanding. Standard packages are easy to support but building libraries will have to be taken on by users until manufacturers and distributors provide their own. Forty years since the two branches of CAD went their separate ways, a bond is being formed even if the tools will not merge. View full abstract»

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  • Stages of automation - [Control theatre]

    Page(s): 38 - 41
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    The next time you visit the theatre, the scenery and performers you see flying from wing to wing may be under the control of a technology that started life a few years ago in the manufacturing and process industries. The author raises the curtain on theatrical automation. The theatre production of Peter Pan is propelled by Profinet. This technology, which wows the crowds by making theatre performers soar across the stage, is the open Industrial Ethernet standard for distributed automation systems, developed by Siemens and the Profibus User Organisation. Using existing IT standards such as TCP/IP, XML and OPC, and built on the IEEE 802.3 collection of wired Ethernet standards, it enables the integration (via a proxy) of existing fieldbus systems such as Profibus, DeviceNet, and Interbus, without the need to change existing devices. View full abstract»

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  • Offshore advances - [Control subsea]

    Page(s): 42 - 44
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    The article discusses how as the search for oil moves into deeper waters and harsher environments production is moving onto the seabed. Offshore oil and gas production has seen a significant trend in recent years: the elimination of offshore surface facilities, with the entire production system for some of the more advanced fields located on the seabed and connected back to a terminal on the shore. The Ormen Lange is a good example of this approach, and is significant because it will supply 20 per cent of the UK's gas consumption in coming years. Remote control plays a vital role, since the subsea hardware is out of reach for manual intervention, but closed loop control is playing an increasing role as the projects become more sophisticated. View full abstract»

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  • A blagger's guide to carbon trading - [Power carbon trading]

    Page(s): 46 - 47
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    The man-made emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are believed to be responsible for the small amount of global warming. The fear is that these emissions might accelerate global warming into something much worse. Carbon trading is putting a price on carbon and creating a cost to its emission thus creating an incentive not to do so. If a limit is set on carbon emissions and issue carbon permits to trade, i.e. the right to emit carbon, then it creates commercial flexibility for companies that they can either reduce carbon and fulfil their quota or, if they can't afford that, buy permits from those firms that have reduced more than their required amount. The greatest problem of carbon dioxide is that it does not consider energy security. View full abstract»

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  • On the twelfth day of christmas... - [Power research]

    Page(s): 48 - 51
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    The study is the first time a mathematical algorithm known as SPEA (strength Pareto evolutionary algorithm) has been used for the optimal 'multi-objective' designing of hybrid electric energy generation systems. The algorithm provides an optimum range of solutions from which the designer can choose the most appropriate according to the relevant budgetary conditions, acceptable levels of pollutant emissions, and the amount of unprovided energy involved. View full abstract»

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  • IPv6 crosses the line - [IT protocols]

    Page(s): 52 - 54
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    The success of China's IPv6 network for the Beijing Olympics may give other organisations the confidence they need to migrate from IPv4. View full abstract»

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  • Processes with a point - [IT software]

    Page(s): 55 - 56
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    This is not going to be pretty. You're in charge of a software development team, your two-year project was delivered over budget and over deadline - and the users are complaining that it doesn't do what they want. Simply using an integrated development environment (IDE) isn't enough to produce robust software these days. Application lifecycle management (ALM) is a category of software designed to manage all aspects of a software application's production, giving earnest developers the chance to answer those questions, or better still, avoid them coming up at all. View full abstract»

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  • 2008: a review - [Manufacturing the year]

    Page(s): 58 - 60
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    The government unveils a voluntary scheme for manufacturers who want to measure the carbon footprint of automobile products. The 'PAS 2050' framework offers guidelines on measuring greenhouse gas associated with most of a product's lifecycle, from design and production through to consumer usage and disposal. View full abstract»

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  • Joined-up planning - [Manufacturing lifecycles]

    Page(s): 61 - 63
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    The growing importance of 'lifecycle' IT for manufacturing over the past decade is no accident. Some of the key business challenges facing both multinational and smaller firms have pointed to the need for the development of broad procedures and technologies that have been parcelled under the PLM (product lifecycle management) banner. PLM, which has its roots in computer-aided design (CAD) going back two decades, has now grown into a panoply of manufacturing IT processes. View full abstract»

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  • Brazil calling - [COMMS country profile]

    Page(s): 64 - 67
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    Brazil's communications infrastructure is being modernised to position the country as a future economic superpower. View full abstract»

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  • Tomorrow's teardowns - [COMMS country profile]

    Page(s): 68 - 70
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    The launch of the 3G version of Apple's iPhone revealed a fundamental weakness in handset makers' plans. The launch showed that there is pent-up demand for mobile access to the Internet, but that the wireless data connections which make it possible empty the battery much more quickly than expected. View full abstract»

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  • How to be an even better manager - [Management technique]

    Page(s): 72 - 75
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    What are the 50 best ways of improving your management skills? And do you have an effective checklist of all the questions you need to be on top of? In the first of our two-part mini-series, bestselling author and management expert Michael Armstrong talks tcE&T. If there's one 'How to' manual all managers should have on their shelves, it's probably 'How to be an Even Better Manager'. It's now run into several editions, with the most recent update published this year (conveniently, in time for Christmas). Covering 50 key aspects of management, it now includes eight new chapters dealing with how to achieve continuous improvement, make a business case, delight customers, manage risk, prepare a business plan and, as we await forecasts of an upturn in the global economy, how to recover from setbacks. Author Michael Armstrong has plenty of knowledge to draw upon. His practical experience includes more than a decade as a human resources director and five years in general management. He has led consultancy assignment in the private, public and voluntary sectors, and is a Companion of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He began as a management trainee with Rowntrees (now Nestle) and became responsible for training at BAE Aerospace. "A business may have all sorts of progressive HR policies," says Armstrong, "but it is managers who have to make them work on the ground." Achieving success is not so much a question of going on a course. It's more a question of observing and absorbing, thinking critically about your own performance and developing new skills. According to Armstrong, management can be learned. It can also be distilled from experience. View full abstract»

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  • Management control - we have a problem - [Management coaching]

    Page(s): 76 - 77
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    Continuing our series of on-the-spot coaching advice, chartered engineer and qualified management coach Janet Wright answers your engineering management dilemmas... There's never a dull moment here at E&T Towers where, as usual, we're under siege from readers wanting solutions to their management dilemmas. And, as usual, while we can claim to offer the best possible professional analysis of these generalised problems that have been based on real-life incidents, there is no substitute for getting advice that has been tailored to your specific management style and structure. In this instalment, we look at the issue of a member of staff who feels undermined by their manager's free-and-easy approach to problem solving, and an employee who feels that their career path is being blocked by a directive handed down by upper management. View full abstract»

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Aims & Scope

Engineering & Technology is the IET's flagship magazine featuring analysis, news, innovation announcements, job advertisements and careers advice.

Full Aims & Scope

Meet Our Editors

Editor-in-Chief
Dickon Ross
IET