Author Archives: Paul Clarke

Over the last few weeks I’ve been talking about the Schools Contest held by Chelmsford Engineering Society (CES). The first week I explained the basic background of the contest and then how I take part in the judging process. Well this week its awards time and we get to see who has won! Once again our hosts are Anglia Ruskin University who help out lots with this and other CES events. There was also lots of support from the sponsors including my company ebm-papst UK Ltd who also supply one of the trophies (full list of sponsors at end). The award winners came along and one again put on a great show of the work they have done. For me like some of the other judges it was our first opportunity to see some of them or have a long chat about the work. Its hard to take in 50…

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Few have escaped the news that there is a new shinny social media network launch underway – Google+ is here but what are we the engineering community making of it? Over the last few years I have become a convert when it comes to social media. If you had told me that facebook and twitter were good engineering tools then I would have laughed at you. However just over a year ago when I joined DesignSpark as a blogger for ebmpapst I started the slippy slope into online networking. So Google+ is here in Beta phase at the time of writing this and I got an invite from a fellow engineer about a week ago. The community is still growing all under the control of Google but is slowly starting to show how it can be used. So early on I wanted to capture the first views of other engineers…

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Last week I introduced the Chelmsford Engineering Society (CES)  Competition for schools. As I said before, I was one of the judges, and this week, I want to report back on what I have seen and what stood out. Before I show you the entries that stood out, I first want to run though the background information about the contest so you better understand the whole day. My day started at the Marconi Building, which is on the Anglia Ruskin University complex, at 8:15am for registration. I was one of 42 judges taking part on the day. We were being supported by members of the CES, who were organising and helping log scores. We are all paired up with another engineer who we have not meet before; I was with a chap called George who, in his day, used to make TV Camera tubes before it all went solid-state. Each…

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For the next few weeks, I’m going to hog EngineerBlogs to talk about a school’s engineers competition that’s taking place. The contest is taking place at Anglia Ruskin University, which is in Chelmsford, England, the “birth place of radio”. The contest is run by Chelmsford Engineering Society, which is a group of engineers that run the competition in their own time and are sponsored by local businesses. Each year, schools from all around the area come to Chelmsford, displaying their projects and hoping to win one of the many donated prizes. My part in this is that I am one of the many judges that the local companies sponsor. My firm, embpapst, sends two judges each year as well as donates money to the society. It’s important for us and other companies to do this, otherwise, these contests just could not take place. The contest takes place on the 1st…

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Making mistakes is easy, I do them all the time! However, what we do about them is more important. In this week’s theme of “mistakes,” I can easy spend time telling you about the mess I have gotten into and how I should have been more careful, but there’s nothing I can do about them. So I want to talk about keeping face after making mistakes. We all know that moment when your heart sinks, your skin turns cold and you start to sweat. Your first reaction is “Oh God What Have I Done!” and then you start to pray no one else has seen your massive mistake and your hoping you can run away and hide – no one will notice will they? It’s not your fault, it has to be someone else who fed you wrong information! Or some faulty device or the fault of the technician –…

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As engineers we are often asked to drop everything and work of some other task because its crucial to the business. Sometimes, one has to dash off to production to fix something thingy-me-bob so they can make a shipment date. However last week I got some training for some engineering types that know the true importance of being Emergency Engineers. My three day course started on Wednesday last week and to be honest I was a little nervous as to what would be involved. I mean it’s not like the product we would be trained on was new to me or to any of us that turned up. However being in a situation were its critical how long you have to fix it really adds pressure. It’s important when looking at emergency engineering however not to look at the product as a whole but the part within they system and…

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You may have noticed that I work for ebm-papst UK Ltd, but do you know what we do? Or how we are changing the world? This week, I want to explain the most exciting development since the electric motor: the EC Fan. Ebm-papst is a market leader in supplying fans to the whole world. That’s everything from fans in microwaves and ovens to fans in computers and IT equipment right the way up to massive fans keeping data centres and supermarkets cool. However, it’s the development of the EC fan that has made a massive impact on the world. I’d like to point out from the beginning that ebm-papst is not the only manufacturer of EC fans, but we were the first! The EC fan is important because it is much more efficient than standard electric fans. A typical AC fan uses magnetic fields to spin the rotor around.  However,…

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This week, I wanted to get a little more hardcore with the electronics and explain one of the products I once worked on: the Engine Control Unit (ECU) of a Formula 1 racing car. Some 10 years ago, I worked for a UK company that designed and built electronics for a large proportion of the racing world. From Formula Ford to World Rally cars, from go carts to NASCAR cars, their electronics found their way in. They designed things like data loggers, sensors, full car looms, and even the £50,000 steering wheels you used to see in the Ferrari Formula 1 cars. However, the really clever stuff was carried out inside the ECU. The basics of a car engine are easy to understand: suck in some air, mix a little fuel, add a little spark, and bang! You get a big explosion and lots of smelly gases which you throw…

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I was lucky. I had someone who was able to teach me electronics and I’ve been lucky to work with others that had a real passion for it too. However it is sad that kids are not getting a chance to see engineering for what it really is. This week I posted a blog about how Uni students were not getting the right attention and being given a PHP unit to pass when it really had little to do with their course in my option and that they had no support from the Uni to learn. This has the effect of pushing people away from engineering as something they do not understand and is difficult to even do that basics. The truth, however, is that engineering is built from lots of small building blocks. And that with passion, it’s easy to learn–even for kids. Over the last few years I’ve…

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So yes, it is that time again when the slightly odd electronics engineer posts another blog. Having got this weeks theme via email again I stopped and asked myself – do I always have a totally different view about things from everyone else? Well, in short, yes I do! As an electronics engineer I tend to interface with others like mechanical engineers and software engineers or departments like production or maintenance. However, I don’t think I’ve had problems talking to them or getting them to understand me. This is mainly because I have worked in other areas of business and engineering other than just magically appearing as an electronics design engineer. In other blogs I have talked about my education and progress to becoming an engineer and you will see I started off in production and did a mechanical engineering course at college. So I’ve become one of them ‘Jack-of-all-trades’…

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