Engineering fundamentals

Calrec, Education, Featured, People — By on November 12, 2012 16:35

A recent story we read on the Broadcasting Engineering website has sparked a debate on other social networks about training, the lack of and its suitability with modern infrastructures.

This post was written around a story reported in the Kansas City Star, where a teenager was fatally shocked while working on an unplugged computer. It transpires he was parting out the machine and was working inside the power supply when he was electrocuted.

The post goes on to describe what the response should be if you find someone who has been electrocuted – victims can die in a matter of seconds, so fast reactions are important – but the post also lead to a discussion on LinkedIn.

Curtis Kitchen reported this in his own blog on Broadcast Engineering’s site, a thoughtful lament on the blurring of jobs between engineering and IT, the expectations on engineering staff…and the training needed to fulfil these new, wider job roles.

He’s not wrong. Here at Calrec we have gone from designing and manufacturing audio broadcast consoles to designing and manufacturing huge broadcast network infrastructures, with all the connectivity and third-party protocol control that entails. Increasingly engineers are expected to assimilate more and more information; networking protocols, audio over IP, packetisation, SW-P-08, MAC addresses and the rest.  And all this in addition to more traditional knowledge which they still need to keep up to date on in an extremely fast-moving technological environment.

In fact, it is so widely recognised by those on the outside looking in, that recent marketing studies have shown that potential purchasers in the broadcast industry are increasingly motivated by manufacturers who inform and educate their operators on changes in technology – as time becomes a more precious commodity.

As Curtis points out in his closing thoughts:

“…even very recently, Broadcast Engineering has featured articles on computer system administration and router fundamentals. These topics are growing and critical to today’s engineers, no question. But, if most (or all?) of our attention sways that direction and slowly but increasingly forgets the “engineering part,” I wonder what the effect might be.

Considering the young teen’s fate, I don’t know that it’s possible to overstate any scenario.”

It’s not just about the fundamentals but about keeping up with a rapidly shifting landscape. Calrec’s recent training sessions in London were all over-subscribed (more to follow soon – watch this space) and our Audio Primer is still proving popular, but how can manufacturers better ensure that tomorrow’s engineers are kept better informed?

What do you think?

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  1. The tragic parts of this posting touches on the need for those dabbling in computers to be aware they contain more the 5 volts. However on the Calrec front, the Audio Primer is a great resource for those coming to broadcast engineering from an IT or background or some other lacking in traditional audio engineering skills.

    Following on from the lead taken by the Audio Primer The other volume Calrec could usefully publish is the Network Primer. A booklet aimed at broadcast engineers heading the other way who know all the audio stuff but have never had training in network structures and terminology. This would have chapters on routers/switches, packets, protocols, ports, addresses, firewalls etc. Publish a volume such as that, aimed at the broadcast engineer rather than the would be IT engineer, and you’d probably persuade me to even pay money (not too much!) for a copy.

  2. Kevin says:

    Melanie, thank you for your comment. You read our minds – we have already started working on a Network Primer with an aim to start posting individual topics on this site in the new year, and binding them together as a book in time for NAB.

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