Editor’s comment: 50 not out…

Author : Mark Gradwell | Editor | EPDT

03 August 2021

Mark Gradwell, Editor, EPDT
Mark Gradwell, Editor, EPDT

In August last year, I listened to a BBC Radio 2 show presented by Radio 1 breakfast show host, Greg James, titled 50 Not Out, celebrating radio legend, Bob Harris’s 50 years on air. As a lifelong music & radio devotee, I’m a huge Whispering Bob fan – though as I approach 50 years in age, I’m a little less familiar with Greg James…

This editorial leader was originally featured in the August 2021 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. And sign up to receive your own copy each month.

Turns out, that as well as being a great admirer of the veteran broadcaster, Greg and Bob are also firm friends – partly through their shared love of cricket, with James also co-presenting the popular Tailenders podcast (and sometime 5 Live show) with ex-Maccabees guitarist, Felix White and England international cricketer, James Anderson…

While I’m still a long way from 50 years in publishing, I have just passed the milestone of 50 issues as EPDT Editor. In fact, this August issue marks my 51st monthly Comment in these pages, in my third decade working in the engineering and technology sector – so it seems as good an opportunity as any to reflect on the last four (and a bit) years. In our sector, as in the world at large, much has changed during that time – while some things remain the same…

In that first column, back in June 2017, I wrote about Standing on the shoulders of giants – recognising the formative good work of the three editorial giants to precede me in this role, Alistair Winning, Tim Fryer and Caroline Hayes. I also used that theme as a metaphor for electronics design and engineering. Every day, consumers and industrial users utilising electronic tech benefit from the amazing work engineers have done to create the technologies they rely on to enrich their lives and run their businesses. And designers and creators themselves continually build upon the platform of work done by influential scientists and engineers that have preceded them.

That much certainly remains true. Our core role here at EPDT is still to shine a light on the collective achievements of the electronics industry, helping inform, educate and engage design, manufacturing and test engineers, providing y’all with relevant, valuable content to help you develop your skills, knowledge and careers. And with society facing perhaps more grand challenges than ever before, from addressing climate change and harnessing renewable energy sources, to maximising the benefits of robotics and AI for all, we desperately need more engineering (and scientific) heroes to help ultimately solve these challenges – improving everyday life for everyone.

I’m fortunate to have worked alongside engineers for the majority of my career, witnessing the amazing work they do and helping tell their stories. So it’s always seemed self-evident to me that virtually every object and technology we use, as well as the built environment we inhabit, has been designed and built by engineers. Meanwhile, the STEM skills gap and shortfall of engineers has been well known and documented for decades. And in a post-COVID (and post-Brexit) world, with government talk of ‘building back better’ and ‘levelling up’ across the UK, demand for STEM heroes has never been more urgent.

COVID is accelerating the inexorable digital transformation of society. We have all  had to rapidly ramp up our use of, reliance upon and comfort with digital devices, channels and experiences – as we work or study from home, access services including remote healthcare and online shopping, and replace real world trips and meetings with virtual hangouts and events. Even in the physical world, COVID is impacting interaction, with growing use of contact-free ordering, delivery, ticketing, payment and check-out technologies. And as ever, technology, created by engineers – and powered by electronics, is the crucial enabler.

At least the pandemic has helped shine a light on the vital role engineers play in solving problems. Engineers have stepped up during this crisis: from answering the call to rapidly design, manufacture and test new ventilators or PPE, to helping develop laser sensors that can detect coronavirus at the earliest point of infection from a saliva or nasal swab in just minutes.

STEM matters, my friends, now more than ever. Like Whispering Bob, I’m 50 not out – with plenty more still to come…

EPDT August 2021's issue also contains features on Displays technologies and Medical applications. Read more on what's inside EPDT this month

Mark Gradwell
Editor


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