Top stories of 2008 and why

Of the myriad things I write, sharing the year’s top stories is best. A) It involves measurement, which is fun — sorting the number of times readers accessed these stories online. B) I get to learn what you found most interesting or useful and figure out why. In 2008, the following stories were most viewed at www.
By Mark T. Hoske, editor in chief February 1, 2009

Of the myriad things I write, sharing the year’s top stories is best. A) It involves measurement, which is fun — sorting the number of times readers accessed these stories online. B) I get to learn what you found most interesting or useful and figure out why. In 2008, the following stories were most viewed at www.controleng.com .

1. Electrical Design Software, the June cover story, pulls in readers because of the time savings when people use electrical design software. Who couldn’t use more time? Gee-whiz features automate what was laborious.

2. Dennis Brandl’s IT & Engineering Insight column in October discussed the rules for software success, reviewing five elements inherent in all software implementation. This serves as a roadmap for getting the most for a software investment.

3. Closing the Skills Gap, the January cover story, brings up the often uncomfortable subject of the difference between anticipated engineering demand and the number being trained. Perhaps because engineering, unexplained, is akin to magic, young people have taken it for granted. It’s time for all of us to get youth excited about one of the most important keys to our culture of innovation and creativity: engineering.

4. News on Jan. 29 explained, fiber optic versus copper: 5 reasons fiber wins. Networking growth is huge, and a major physical-layer decision is whether to move to a fiber-optic infrastructure or remain with copper wire.

5. Back to Basics on soft starter designs and functions, in June 2008, includes diagrams explaining how these devices work to defeat two main causes of machine-related wear and tear.

6. News on Oct. 30 offered resources to help with learning piping and instrumentation drawings, and how to read P&IDs. Sample diagram is included.

7. Humanity can develop wisdom by learning from others’ mistakes beyond what we personally experience. System Integration eNewsletter Jan. 3 carried a “Legalities” column that explained: Integrator uses wrong measurement, a $2.5 million error. Everyone wants to avoid that one.

8. Article on pressure sensor technologies in February provided tutorial advice about how pressure sensing elements work.

9. Product Research (monthly with readers’ help) showed in January how servo motors are speeding up in the marketplace and why.

10. And a Jan. 20 news story told, with photos and examples, about how swarm robotics principles have been debugged naturally for 120 million years. I can think of a lot of things I’d do with a swarm of robots…. Maybe clean my office first…. No, garage first, then office.

MHoske@cfemedia.com

ONLINE EXTRA

Measurements bias: Of course looking at a calendar year favors stories that went online earlier in the year. They had more time to be searched and read. Even so, a remarkable 8 of 20 appeared in June or later.

View a table with links to the “Top 20 Control Engineering stories of 2008,” as viewed at www.controleng.com .

If included in the ranking above, the following blog entry would have placed number 1:

“Back to the moon,” from the Control Engineering blog, AIMing for Automated Vehicles, by Paul Grayson, Jan. 14, 2008.