* Posts by RvdP

2 posts • joined 4 Dec 2013

UK lacks engineering and tech skills to make government's industrial strategy work – report


its all about the cash

Good Morning, Kat,

I noticed your article and couldn't stop my knee jerking in response. I've finally managed to get into the comments section - sorry for the delay.

The IET has been bemoaning a coming desperate shortage of Engineers and Technologists for many years. What they fail to mention is that the shortage is a market shortage at a given price... Shortages generally drive up prices. That is the real problem that the institutions and Government and industry are concerning themselves with and getting their knickers in a twist about - keeping techies cheap.

The IEE and IMechE and the Engineering Council et al in the preceding decades moaned about the lack of status for technologists, and the difficulty of recruiting high quality entrants in volume. Indeed one of the aims (one of several conflicting ones) in the old IEE's charter was to represent the profession.

What has happened instead is that academia and the institutions have been recruiting all and sundry to tech education, with high drop out rates and many poor quality graduates resulting. Technician vocational hands on training lapsed, and it has not been properly rebuilt. But academia is paid by bums on seats who start the year, not by those who get and deserve a decent first class degree.

The institutions and bodies that accredit training have allowed a huge dumbing down in education at all levels (one paper ~20 years ago reckoned that stem subjects were moving downwards, intellectually and content-wise, by an A-level grade "notch" every three years in the 90's.)

A shortage of techies ought to drive up prices/wages. Techies can move to where the money is - we don't have to produce all of our own requirement, we as a country just have to pay for it.

If prices go up it will be easier to attract bright kids into the tech world - instead of them wanting to become pharmacists, dentists and telephone sanitisers...

Maybe a skills shortage will actually be a very very good thing for the people who actually still work "at the coal face" of technology. If it drives up salaries and prices, at least the people doing the tech may see some better rewards, (even if the companies and government have to pay more for it and don't like it).

Thanks to all of you at the Register for one of my morning "must reads". Keep up the good work.

Rupert van der Post MBA BSc CEng MIET

Inside IBM's vomit-inducing, noise-free future chip lab


Re: Uh? - Magnetic attenuation isn't that simple in e-m labs

Higher frequency screened rooms / chambers (good ones) can achieve very high attenuation. Low frequency screened rooms are a different issue - at 1s to 1000s of Hz changing magnetic fields need a lot of metal to reduce them effectively. The attenuation achieved by metal screening is very thickness-, and material- and frequency- and geometry-dependent below 10 kHz. I've just spent a fair bit of the last year and a half working on a similar screened room for an FEI Titan electron microscope and I really really don't find this article very clear or informative !

At very low frequency / near DC / DC a (e.g. Helmholtz or Maxwell coil) field bucking system is about the only option to get big attenuation unless you want to pay for a heck of a lot of mumetal - common steels at the odd few grand a tonne only give the odd single digits of dBs at reasonable thickness at near DC. However, a static unchanging DC field is an offset generator, not a blur generator. The earth's magnetic field contains components from DC up to quite elevated frequencies. Its changing field that is the biggest (electromagnetic) killer for e-m work IMHO.

In any of these rooms, the attenuation at mains frequency upwards is firstly limited by how much steel of what type is put into the walls, floor and ceiling. If you actively buck the AC fields, you have to decide where do you stop - mains with harmonics on it goes up and up in frequency.... At some point the control of a field buck system becomes too difficult. Cables and electric equipment systems in the facility generate a fair amount of field depending on the details of what is installed, how. Good detailing of the equipment and installation cuts the source field a lot.

There's an awful lot of numbers being bandied around in this article, but it doesn't leave things that clear at the end. Could we have some more science, some more engineering and a bit less gee-whizz., please. A proper detailed technical presentation would be great - if IBM or Dr Loertscher have published such a thing online can you link to it please ? Any open visit invites going ?


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