Playing with Technical Expressions

We may look for an apparatus under commonly known technical terms, but we may not find it with all suppliers. This does not necessarily mean that more potential suppliers for this apparatus do not exist.

Some suppliers try to avoid “copy right” violation by using different terms and titles, which are not commonly known among end users, whereas others do it in purpose to confuse their competitors. Several examples can be given here; nonetheless, Column Buckling Apparatus may be listed as Strut Buckling Apparatus or Buckling of Struts Apparatus. Furthermore, the designation of the type of the equipment; whether it is a machine, system, apparatus, bench, unit, stand, .., etc.

Unfortunately, it has been noticed that many end users are someway confused with these apparantly different expressions. For example, Creep Testing Machine and Creep Testing Apparatus. Another example is TurbineTest Bench and Turbine Test Set or Turbine Test Rig.

It is advisable to carefully read the specifications of the equipment and what it can provide instead of going blindly after the title, which could be sometimes misleading.

Training

The main idea behind training here is the training on how to operate the equipment in an appropriate way and to have the right facility for the optimal results that fulfills the theory. This assumes that the trainees have the appropriate background. However, in real life and from experience in many cases, most of the assigned trainees are not qualified for such training. This has been encountered in most of the training sessions in different countries!

Typical questions mostly raised by the trainees are:

  • What do we use this equipment for?
  • What are we going to prove?
  • How do we use the results in the calculations, and  what are the mathematical formula?

Several similar questions are usually raised. Such questions could be interpreted in the sense that these trainees have no suitable technical background. It is so strange when we assume that the trainees are either instructors or lab assistants. This should mean that they have at least a university degree, which logically means that they studied such related topics. What is not understood also is that more frequently the trainees are personnel at higher rank; normally they have no teaching load. This occurs specially when the training is abroad and/or with some benefits!

The main responsibility would lie on the department authority who appoint candidates for such training. Since training time is limited, there would hardly be time for going through the theory behind the experiments. It is this doubted that these trainees would digest the details of traning.

The only way in such case is to organise a special intensive course to go over the theory before starting the training on the equipment. But, it should always be born in mind that this would add to the cost of training.

“Computerisation” of Educational Equipment

Following what was mentioned briefly in the previous article, we would like to look at the advantages and disadvantages of using PC-data acquisition (and sometimes control) in educational equipment. We should look at this issue from two angles; one is the cost involved and the other is the benefits to be earned.

To understand it more, we should always remember that the purpose of acquiring educational equipment in any Institute is to provide the students with a facility to understand the theory in a practical way. To give an example we have to take simple cases where the student needs to understand Hooke’s Law or Boyle’s Law. Such experimental setup, generally, is simple and not so complicated. This makes such sets affordable to any lab with a limited budget. Technically any experimental system can be equipped with the appropriate sensors and transducers to facilitate PC-data acquisition. However, when we look at these two examples we will find that the cost fo “computerisation” is way higher than the cost for the basic system itself. When we look at the benefit we would find that “computerisation” may save us a little time, but in the meantime, beside the disadvantage of the cost burden, the student is not exposed to following the steps of taking the readings. The valid question always remain; In such equipment is it really worth paying so much in order to take a set of a few readings?

On the other hand, for some experimental systems PC-data acquisition and control might become a necessity; thouhg the manula control and setup of the experiment should not be ruled out completely. One good example of this is Process Control, where the student would gain a hands-on experience in dealing with such controls in the real industry beside understanding the whole process. In general such equipment, in their basic form, are not really cheap. Adding computerisation to them would be only within a reasonable percentage of the overall cost. In such case, PC-datar acquisition / control would be justifiable.

Therefor, computerisation should not be taken always cosidered an advantage to tag one supplier as superior to the others. It may be illuding to the point that the client may pay too much for very little advantage. A balance must always be there; education is not a show bunisess, rather it is genuin process to create an educated generation using the normally limited resources allocated for education.

Consultation in the Education Field!!!

Talking about consultation in the education field opens a couple of issues. One of these issues is the right advice on how to use the right budget for the right laboratory equipment. There are some consultants who are capable of doing this job and have enough experience in many fields of education. However, consultation would not work perfect unless the client listens to such consultation.

A client who pays for consultation must be ready to listen to the advice of the consultant. Of course, it is assumed here the good intention and mutual trust from both sides.

Another issue in this topic is understanding what consultation would mean to the client. Unfortunately there are many clients who either don’t believe in such service or they think it would inflect on them unnecessary cost. As a matter of fact the right consultation would lead to significant savings, both in budget and time. In addition, the client would secure a clean and smooth job. In the meantime whatever the consultant charges the client it would be a negligible amount in comparison with the unnecessary payments for unneeded equipment that the client may buy without consultation.

It is not so difficult, at least by an experienced consultant, to judge the quality of consultation once the tender is floated. This can easily be recognised from the shape of the packages and the way the technical specs are written. Normally the consultant would use a data base of information that he has accumulated over a period of time. Though the data base is an essential pillar that supports the consultation job it depends on how much informative the consultant is. It is really felt disgusting when you read specs of some equipment that are already obsolete by the time the tender is issued.

I must stress here that the bad quality of consultation is not always the fault of the consultant alone, rather it could also be due to the lack of initial information, such as curriculum, number of students, the level of education, realistic budget, .. etc., that the client must submit.

Furthermore, some people think that the more computerisation they include the more impressive the list of equipment and the lab would be. Didactically, this is not always true. Any way, this topic would be the subject of another article in the near future to discuss it more thoroughly based on the philosophy of education.

Economising the Technical Education

It is very important to acquire equipment and apparati for technical education, such as; Engineering Faculties, Polytechnics, Technical Colleges, and Vocational Schools. However, this issue would not be without financial cost, where many institutions don’t have the right budeget for such facilities.

Many suppliers for educational equipment have on the list of their supply a significant number of equipment that would do the same job, though under different titles and article codes. Staff with less experience may not recognise the similarity of such equipment, which is normally reflected on many similar equipment in one tender, enquiry or procurement.

This shows the high importance of Consultation business in the Technical Education, where a great deal of financial saving would be worth investing on seeking the right consultation for a trivial amount of fees.

The cost of educational equipment may be reduced in different ways; for example:

  • Combining several equipment in one compact system to avoid repetition of facilities that can be used equally by all the equipment. A good example is The FM 450 Multi Turbine Test Bench, in which 3 turbines; namely: Pelton, Francis, and Cross-Flow are mounted on one bench. Such turbines can use the same water supply and measuring instrumentation, beside the same frame bench.
  • Making a modular system, where a great number of experiments may be conducted using one bench or frame. Examples are FM 100 Hydraulics Bench and ST 100 Universal Structural Test Frame.

In both ways, there is another unseen advantage; saving lab space. Construction of a lab should not be looked at as a cheap matter.

Hello world!

EdLabQuip is dedicated for various services in education. The expertise has accumulated over the last two decades and developed to become a significant partner in education business worldwide. We are specialised in Science, Engineering and vocational training lab. Our activities may be summarised in the following:

Planning for engineering and science labs, this includes:

  • Design,
  • Budgeting,
  • Technical specification,
  • Procurement management (and/or supply) and supervision,
  • On-site training.

Major Fields Include:

  • Engineering mechanics,
  • Strength of Materials,
  • Structural engineering,
  • Fluid mechanics and hydrology,
  • Civil engineering,
  • Thermodynamics and heat transfer,
  • Electrical and electronic engineering,
  • Other ranges of engineering and science, for educational purposes, may also be supplied upon request; just ask.

In addition, we have built a good experience in developing curriculum. We also provide installation and training on equipment as well as curriculum. Furthermore, we provide Quality-Control and Inspection Service.