The IMechE has highlighted the fact that scores of specialised academic papers and much useful engineering data are available to members through its “virtual library”.
The institution has a licence to material distributed by New York-based firm Knovel, which aggregates engineering content from thousands of publications and makes it available online.
Users can click on material such as graphs and equations and modify it to suit their own needs. The information can then be shared by teams across the world.
Half of Knovel's customer base is academic. Many leading engineering schools are using the system, but it is also in favour with companies such as BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney.
The system developed by Knovel uses licensed content from publishers such as Elsevier, Wiley and Pennwell and makes it available online, with powerful search engines and interactivity tools. Effectively, thousands and thousands of engineering books are made available as e-books. The system also gathers together standards such as ASTM and ASME.
Many of the large professional societies are using the Knovel system, including the IET and IChemE. In the oil and gas industry, it is used by Shell, BP and Statoil. “We're serving the needs of engineers within those industries,” said Gary Kearns, managing director of Knovel in Europe.
The platform is typically licensed to an organisation or company, which can then provide content to engineers or students. There are 29 relevant subject areas. “There's a lot of room for growth in the corporate sector,” said Kearns.
Digitised equations and graphs are linked to citations, enabling users to check their origin. “This is a big productivity tool because you can save so much time,” said Tim Moxey, who looks after the IMechE account. “It can become the first place for engineers to go to solve problems.
“Many engineers still use books of course, but this is a 21st century tool.”