Teaching about technical standards in an engineering curriculum is far from easy. Few textbooks have case studies of standards applications, only a handful of publications deal with how to develop a standard, and most standards documents are so complex that students find them hard to understand. That’s why the IEEE Standards Education Committee (SEC) recently launched the IEEE Standards Education e-Magazine.
The quarterly online publication is aimed at educators and undergraduate and graduate students, according to Yatin Trivedi, its editor in chief. “Engineers who understand standards and participate in their development are increasingly important to many employers,” says Trivedi, a member of the IEEE Standards Association and the SEC. “If they have worked with standards, graduates are more employable, because they can become productive right away, saving the company the expense of training them.” Trivedi is director of standards and interoperability programs at Synopsys, in Mountain View, Calif.
The new eZine is part of the Standards Education Program, a joint effort established in 2003 by the IEEE Educational Activities Board and the IEEE Standards Association Board of Governors. The program’s goals are to disseminate learning materials on the application of standards and to integrate technical standards into academic programs within IEEE’s fields of interest. Over the years, the committee has launched the IEEE Standards Education Web pages and developed a variety of resources posted there. They include free tutorials involving case illustrations describing the application of standards to achieve a specific design objective, a glossary of terms and phrases, and a tutorial on how standards came about.
“Engineering students—whether in degree or continuing-education programs—are better served when standards are integrated into educational curricula,” Trivedi says.
Because professors themselves often aren’t well versed in standards, the first issue of the eZine has five feature articles that cover the fundamentals of how standards are created, used, implemented, and deployed, such as “Why Standards Education” and “Standards Development Process.”
In “Why Standards Matter,” IEEE Senior Member Wael William Diab discusses the role standards play in industry. Diab is senior technical director in Broadcom’s office of the CTO, working on technical strategy for the company’s Infrastructure and Networking Group, in Irvine, Calif.
A videotape of Trivedi interviewing the IEEE Standards Association president Steve Mills appears in a second article, “Importance of Standards.” The two men discuss why standards matter to industry and why engineers and university students should learn about them.
“Incorporating Standards Education in University Curriculum” presents a case study. Candace Sulzbach, a lecturer in the engineering division at the Colorado School of Mines, in Golden, shows how she incorporated standards into the school’s final senior design project.
One of the 50 teams of students that received US $500 grants from the IEEE Standards Education Committee to help develop school projects that incorporate industry standards is spotlighted in “Best of Student Application Papers.” In this issue, team members from Louisiana State University, in Baton Rouge, explain how they used ISO 15693–compliant RFID tags in an inventory-control system. There’s also information about how to apply for the SEC-sponsored grants.
Other information in the eZine includes upcoming conferences, seminars, and workshops that the SEC sponsors.
The magazine isn’t all seriousness; the “Funny Pages” section contains cartoons about standards.
Trivedi notes that the eZine isn’t only for students and educators. Practicing engineers can learn a thing or two from it as well, he says.
“Many engineers already in the workforce need to educate themselves about standards,” he says. “They need to understand the role that standards play in designing products, product testing, and conformance. The information in this magazine will help them.”
Trivedi is seeking articles for upcoming issues.