How to excel in engineering
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How to excel in engineering

A collection of notes, knowledge and insight from real engineering experience

About the Book

Through this book, I want to make you a better engineer.

The world is changing. Perhaps you've noticed? Technology trends are evolving towards newer, higher levels of complexity. Our engineering practice may not be keeping up. Don't take my word for it - look at the numerous budget overruns, delays, and functionality failures of big projects like space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, Berlin-Brandenburg Airport or London's Elizabeth Line underground railway.

Does it worry you too? Do you want to understand more about why technology projects fail, and what you might be able to do about it?

Over two decades of working to try to avoid project disasters on large engineering projects, I have picked up insights, skills, and knowledge that might provide some answers. This book is an introduction to a wide range of holistic engineering themes that complement an engineer's physics-based university education. It is a collection of short chapters that aim purely to achieve awareness of a topic, and provide pointers to sources of more detailed information.

Work in progress: structure and content may change! Feedback is welcome.

Originally, the intent was to actually produce 101 different small articles and compile them together into one volume. I wasn't happy with the structure of this (and the likely book length would have been excessive) so I am trialling a new structure with fewer parts, and will begin to merge some of the empty chapter headings together so that they don't all get their own individual section. I think this will work better and prove to be a more effective way to introduce a range of subjects, rather than get stuck in too many deep dives. Your feedback and thoughts on this are welcome.

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About the Author

Joe Silmon
Joe Silmon

Dr Joe Silmon is a railway systems engineer with 18 years of varied experience encompassing academic research, railway vehicles, stations, infrastructure, signalling and electrification. Over time he has become firmly convinced of the need for more holistic skills and awareness among engineers in order to achieve success in the modern world where complexity of technology is constantly increasing.

Joe graduated as a Master of Engineering (Electrical and Electronic) from the University of Birmingham (UK) in 2004 and trained as a graduate with a railway vehicle manufacturer for a year before returning to Birmingham to study for a PhD in fault detection and diagnosis for mechanical actuators, graduating in 2009. He worked as a research fellow in the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education until 2011, publishing five peer-reviewed journal papers, before returning to the railway industry as a systems engineer at a signalling equipment supplier. In 2012 he joined Europe's then-largest engineering consultancy and provided systems engineering support to several of the railway industry's largest and highest-profile infrastructure projects, a theme that continued in 2015 when he again joined a signalling equipment supplier that was engaged on the delivery of a highly complex automation upgrade of the oldest metro railway in the world.

Joe moved from the UK to Germany in 2019 and is now a senior system architect working on a rail industry sector initiative to digitise and further automate railway operation across the whole German railway network.

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