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Mechanical Engineering Systems

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‘There is a time for all things: for shouting, for gentle speaking, for silence; for the washing of pots and the writing of books. Let now the pots go black, and set to work. It is hard to make a beginning, but it must be done’ –Oliver Heaviside, Electromagnetic Theory, Vol 3 (1912), Ch 9,  ‘Waves from moving sources –Adagio. Andante. Allegro Moderato.’ Oliver Heaviside was one of the greatest engineers of all time, ranking alongside Faraday and Maxwell in his field.

 As can be seen from the above excerpt from a seminal work, he appreciated the need to communicate to a wider audience. He also offered the advice So be rigorous; that will cover a multitude of sins. And do not frown.’The series of books that this prefaces takes up Heaviside’s challenge but in a world which is quite different to that being experienced just a century ago. 

With the vast range of books already available covering many of the topics developed in this series, what is this series offering which is unique? I hope that the next few paragraphs help to answer that; certainly no one involved in this project would give up their time to bring these books to fruition if they had not thought that the series is both unique and valuable. 

This motivation for this series of books was born out of the desire of the UK’s Engineering Council to increase the number of incorporated engineers graduating from Higher Education establishments, and the Institution of Incorporated Engineers’(IIE) aim to provide enhanced services to those delivering Incorporated Engineering Courses.

 However, what has emerged from the project should prove of great value to a very wide range of courses within the UK and internationally –from Foundation Degrees or Higher Nationals through to first year modules for traditional ‘Chartered’degree courses. The reason why these books will appeal to such a wide audience is that they present the core subject areas for engineering studies in a lively, student-centred way, with key theory delivered in real world contexts, and a pedagogical structure that supports independent learning and classroom use. 

Despite the apparent waxing of ‘new’technologies and the waning of ‘old’technologies, engineering is still fundamental to wealth creation. Sitting alongside these are the new business focused, information and communications dominated, technology organisations. Both facets have an equal importance in the health of a nation and the prospects of individuals. In preparing this series of books, we have tried to strike a balance between traditional engineering and developing technology.

The philosophy is to provide a series of complementary texts which can be tailored to the actual courses being run –allowing the flexibility for course designers to take into account ‘local’issues, such as areas of particular staff expertise and interest, while being able to demonstrate the depth and breadth of course material referenced to a common framework. The series is designed to cover material in the core texts which approximately corresponds to the first year of study with module texts focussing on individual topics to second and final year level. 

While the general structure of each of the texts is common, the styles are quite different, reflecting best practice in their areas. For example Mechanical Engineering Systems adopts a ‘tell –show –do’approach, allowing students to work independently as well as in class, whereas Business Skills for Engineers and Technologists adopts a ‘framework’approach, setting the context and boundaries and providing opportunities for discussion. 

Another set of factors which we have taken into account in designing this series is the reduction in contact hours between staff and students, the evolving responsibilities of both parties and the way in which advances in technology are changing the way study can be, and is, undertaken. As a result, the lecturers’support material which accompanies these texts, is paramount to delivering maximum benefit to the student.