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Learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • describe the main features of work groups and teams

  • discuss the main group processes that affect work group or team effectiveness

  • describe the main features of projects, project teams and project management

  • discuss some types of theories about effective leadership.


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4.3 Optical networking

DWDM improves the utilisation of optical fibre for point-to-point links, but a further step in exploiting the potential of optical fibre comes from optical networking in which routeing or switching is done optically.

Optical networking is in its infancy, but the concept of the optical layer based upon wavelength channels is emerging. The optical layer effectively sits below the SDH layer in the network, and provides wavelength channels from one location to another.

An analogy can
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2.4.1 Multimode distortion

With multimode fibre, the main cause of pulses spreading is the multiple paths that signals can traverse as they travel along the fibre. This phenomenon of multimode distortion is illustrated in Figure 5.

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7 Summary

This course presents an understanding of ‘ethics’ as something related with ‘good’ and ‘bad’. There are other derivative words like ‘optimal’ that might also be used, and there are parochial words which are related to particular communities. When we talk about ethical things, we are liable to confront cultural differences that are reflected in differences in vocabulary. But there are other kinds of differences too. Things have different properties; for example, ‘appearance
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5.12 Interests

There is quite a lot to be said about the play, but in this course I need to be selective. In the conversations that take place, one of the things that happens is that all sorts of interests unfold. There is a catalogue of benefits that could each potentially accrue to a long list of individuals and groups. We have the government that could gain benefits through ownership which would allow it to develop the device, understand threats, prevent development, protect the indigenous industry and r
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5.5 Rhetorical devices

I talked a bit about Ned's motivations, but I am not quite sure about what he is trying to do to be persuasive. He has this interest in aesthetics, but in giving a detailed explanation of a military technology he is working on, he, from time to time, uses an analogy. One analogy he uses is the ‘flocking of starlings’, which illustrates rather the principle of operation of the technology and suggests that it is a kind of an existence proof. It implies this technology might actually work. B
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4.2 Making the most of the Vue video case study

Now watch the Vue video clip, linked below.

The following self-assessment questions will help you make the most of your viewing of the video case study, and relate to the learning outcomes for Sections 2 and Author(s): The Open University

3.6 Interfaces in the supply network

Managing the internal interfaces is part of the story. Of increasing importance is the management of the processes that cross organisational boundaries between suppliers and purchasers, that is, the management of the supply network or chain. This network of suppliers, customers, government agencies and others that are necessary parts of the entire value system must be proactively managed. This includes designing the network appropriately.

A supply network is defined as:

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3.3 Business operations: a transformation process

The view that operations is the set of processes responsible for producing the organisation's intended outputs from an appropriate range of resource inputs can be represented very simply, as in Figure 2.

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7.4 The impact of technology on society

Engineering is apparently driven by the needs of society. The technology that results, in turn, drives other changes in our everyday lives. One of the basic needs identified in Section 2 was for shelter. There are many fine examples of long-surviving structures such as pyramids, aqueducts, bridges, walls, functional buildings, and so on. Remarkably these constructions were completed without the depth of analysis and understanding that is available today (though we don't necessarily know much
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7.2 The professional engineer

It has been suggested that there are four main criteria that identify a profession:

Custody of a clearly definable and valuable body of knowledge and understanding associated with a long period of training.

A strong unitary organization which ensures that the profession generally speaks with 'one voice'.

Clearly defined and rigorous entry standards, backed up by a requirement to register with the profession
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7.1 The engineer and society

Section 2 outlined some of the needs for engineering. Society relies on engineers to create solutions to the problems involved in meeting those needs.

This is a good time to pause and point out that inevitably, in return for all this fun and power, engineers have a responsibility to society. The people who employ our services, directly or indirectly, have to have an assurance that we are working within certain social, safety and ethical boundaries. Particularly given the increasing tren
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5.3 Back to the bicycle

Let's assume that our bicycle frame could still be constructed from ties and struts. If we want to select the material to minimise the weight of a frame for a particular frame strength, we need to devise a merit index as follows.

The mass of the tie-rods and struts needed for the frame is given by:

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5.1 The development of the bicycle

Section 4 has looked at how we can follow a logical route or map, from the expression of a need, to arrive at possible solutions to a problem. In Sections 5 and 6 we look in more detail at two quite different examples of engineering problems. Our first example is the historical development of the bicycle frame; the second concerns a vital component of a car's airbag system.

The weight of a bicycle frame is a major burden that the cyclist has to bear. There have certainly been times when
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4.7 Build prototype/demonstrator

The physical models we talked about earlier are prototypes or demonstrators of a sort. However, for the purposes of making a clear distinction in the process, I'm referring here to prototypes or demonstrators as functioning preliminary models of the essential finished product or construction or service, bringing together all the elements of the design that may or may not have been previously physically tested (Author(s): The Open University

4.6 Assess and review

Following our problem-solving map, we have reached the stage of 'assess and review solution', Figure 16.

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4.5.2 Physical models

A physical model of an artefact or component is often built on a reduced scale, in size and/or by using materials that are cheaper and easier to manipulate than those intended for production. At this stage, we are not necessarily producing what you might think of as a prototype, but investigating particular aspects of the design. For instance, maybe we would produce a racing-bike frame to a new design but in a cheap material such as balsawood, in order to assess the air flow around it in a wi
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4.5.1 Mathematical models

Computers in the last few decades have, in many cases, made mathematical modelling a lot easier. Models that used to require hours of manual cranking through long equations can now be created on a screen using specialist software. Processes can be recreated – modelled – in the time it takes to press a few buttons.

For example, when designing a pipe network to carry a gas or fluid, such as in the village water supply problem, you might wish to know how the flow would be distributed w
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4.5 Model the best solution

In moving from the 'possible solutions' to the 'best solution' box, Figure 12, we have to assume that a certain amount of evaluation has been done in the previous loop. The solution is still on paper, and probably not much more than a sketch, but something is badly wrong if the best solution to co
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