Editor's comment: Not all heroes wear masks...

Author : Mark Gradwell | Editor | EPDT

03 May 2020

Mark Gradwell, Editor, EPDT

I hope you & your families are staying safe in these strange times. As I write this column in mid-April, this last month or so of coronavirus & life under lockdown certainly shows how quickly things can change in just a few short weeks...

A version of this editorial was originally featured in the May 2020 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. Sign up to receive your own copy each month.

When I wrote this same column for last month’s April issue about a month ago, the impact of COVID-19 was starting to snowball here in the UK, as coronavirus moved from beginning to dominate the news cycle to becoming virtually the only story – from daily Downing Street news briefings and wall-to-wall national media coverage to its influence being felt even in specialist media like our own...

Since then, the UK (along with much of the world) has gone into lockdown, with schools, cafes, pubs, restaurants, theatres, most shops and many workplaces being closed – and stringent restrictions on people’s movement being introduced, as we are all directed to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives. Along with schoolchildren (save those of key workers), all non-essential workers being encouraged to work from home, where they can, while many workers are being furloughed under government schemes. GCSE and A-level exams have been cancelled, all competitive sport has been suspended and events from Glastonbury, Euro 2020, the Olympics and Wimbledon to the Edinburgh Fringe have been cancelled or postponed. And the PM, several members of the Cabinet, and the Chief Medical Officer have all contracted the virus.

As we all adjust to this new normal, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the doom and gloom of the obvious tragedy of the mounting human cost of the virus, as well as associated worries about shortages of essential resources like PPE and ventilators, not to mention the fallout on mental health or the economy. But as is so often the case in times of crisis, that is not the whole story: positive stories are also in plentiful supply – as people rise to the occasion.

We all know what amazing, selfless and vital work the heroes working in our National Health Service are doing – particularly the courageous nurses and doctors on the front line, but also all the staff supporting them and keeping the service running for all of us. And there are countless others – from those working in social care and the emergency services, to key workers in food production & supermarkets, transportation, utilities & infrastructure, and education & childcare for key workers’ children.

Meanwhile, in our own sector, we have seen engineers, scientists and manufacturing come into focus – as the government reaches out for help and the STEM community steps up in response. I encourage you  to check EPDT’s website (where we are maintaining a live blog collating all the latest EPDT COVID-19 electronics industry news & stories) for regular updates on some of the incredible work engineers, scientists and manufacturers are doing to try and help in the battle against coronavirus. From answering the call to rapidly design, manufacture and test new ventilators, breathing aids and PPE, to helping develop ultrasensitive laser sensors that can detect coronavirus at the earliest point of infection from a saliva or nasal swab in just minutes.

There is a growing realisation that the world might look different in many ways as we come out the other side of this. Hopefully, we will retain the renewed appreciation we all feel for the key workers that keep us our society safe, healthy, fed and functioning – and perhaps we haven’t had enough of experts, after all. Moreover, perhaps some in government and beyond will better understand the vital role engineers – in design, manufacturing and test – can and do play in solving problems and delivering solutions. Not all heroes wear masks! Stay safe, folks.

EPDT May’s issue
also contains features on Lighting technologies & Rail applications, plus EPDT’s annual PXI for Test & Measurement supplement. Read more on what's inside EPDT this month...

Mark Gradwell
EPDT Editor


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