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2.4 Oral and written communication

Humans use language to communicate. This is an obvious statement, but what is language and how do we use it? Language is basically a set of symbols with associated meanings. These symbols are delivered using a set of rules for stringing the symbols together to generate additional meaning. Humans use mostly sounds to represent these symbols, although as an Italian I can communicate common meanings by only using a range of hand gestures! We string together phonetic sounds to make words, and we
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5.5 Summary of Section 5

  • The phase of a material is characterised by its physical state (e.g. solid, liquid or gas), a distinctive arrangement of the atoms, and its chemical composition.

  • Material properties can change suddenly as the temperature increases or decreases, corresponding to changes of phase and the degree of order associated with the arrangement of atoms.

  • Shape memory alloys are examples of a wide range of useful engineering materials t
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5.3 Order and chaos

How can we explain a sudden switch of behaviour at a particular temperature? There must be two competing influences (say X and Y) that depend differently on temperature. Figure 23 indicates how a unique temperature (a so-called critical temperature, Tc) arises,
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5.1 Sudden changes

The third category of thermal effects identified in Section 2 are those associated with sudden changes. Here are some technically important examples where things change suddenly at a particular temperature:

  • Pure water boils at 100 °C (at atmospheric pressure).<
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4.3.3 Getting at the activation energy

The final trick I want to show you with Arrhenius's law is how to extract the constants r0 and Ea from experimental data. If the Arrhenius equation (Section 4.3.1) is ‘turned inside out’ by taking natural logarithms of both sides it becomes:


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4.1 Characteristics of processes activated by thermal energy

This is a long section and needs to be studied carefully. Keep your eye on the overall goal of seeking useful thermal effects on which to base devices.

This section continues the discussion of heat at an atomic level. You will need this background to appreciate the characteristics of processes activated by thermal energy – for example, the softening of glass in a gas flame, the diffusion of atoms through solids, the electrical conductivity of ceramics, and many chemical reactions. Suc
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2.4 Summary of Section 2

  • Thermometers sense temperature. They are transducers providing observable and quantifiable signals in variables other than temperature. Thermometers are calibrated to give numbers in accord with an internationally agreed scale. Various attributes influence the selection of an instrument for a task.

  • Temperature can determine the rate at which certain physical and chemical changes proceed, and whether some changes can occur at all.

  • <
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2.1 Boiling water

Whether it's to wash clothes, make a cup of tea, or just make it safe to drink, water often has to be heated – sometimes to boiling point. There are many ways to do this, but a very common means is some form of electric water-boiler, such as a kettle or an urn. In all but the crudest ones, a device is fitted to ensure that heating does not continue once the boiling point of water is reached.

In deciding on the type and design of such a device, we can suppose that a company manufacturi
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6.1 Introduction

The process of keeping up-to-date in your chosen subject area is useful for your studies and afterwards, for your own personal satisfaction, or perhaps in your career as part of your continuing professional development.

There are a great many tools available that make it quite easy to keep yourself up to date. You can set them up so that the information comes to you, rather than you having to go out on the web looking for it. Over the next few pages, you will be experimenting with some
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5.8 Plagiarism

Referencing is not only useful as a way of sharing information, but also as a means of ensuring that due credit is given to other people’s work. In the electronic information age, it is easy to copy and paste from journal articles and web pages into your own work. But if you do use someone else’s work, you should acknowledge the source by giving a correct reference.

Taking someone's work and not indicating where you took it from is termed plagiarism and is regarded as an infringemen
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4.7 T is for Timeliness

The date when information was produced or published can be an important aspect of quality. This is not quite as simple as saying that 'good' information has to be up to date.

Activity 9

Here is an example of a news item from an on
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3.3 Books and electronic books

Books are a good source of information. The publishing process (where a book is checked by an editor before publishing, and often reviewed by another author) means that books are reliable sources of information, although they may need to be evaluated for bias. A growing number of books can be found online.

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Learning outcomes

By the end of this guide you should be able to:

  • conduct your own searches efficiently and effectively;

  • find references to material in bibliographic databases;

  • make efficient use of full text electronic journals services;

  • critically evaluate information from a variety of sources;

  • understand the importance of organising your own information;

  • identify some of the systems available;

  • describe ho
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5.3.3 Contingency theories

Contingency theories are based on the idea that there is no single best style of leadership but that the most effective style depends upon the circumstances. The aspects of the circumstances identified as significant are:

  • the leader's characteristics and style (thus absorbing the two earlier theories).

  • the subordinates' expectations and experience.

  • the nature of the task and the organisational environment.


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3.2.1 Group context

Probably the two most important features of a formal work group are the task or objectives assigned to it and the environment in which it has to carry that task out. It is important that a work group be given a realistic task and access to the resources required to complete it, and that the people in the group feel that the task is worth accomplishing, i.e. that it has some importance.

When a group fails to make headway, one common cause is that its brief covers several tasks, some of w
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2.9 Conclusions

This reading has addressed four questions: what characterises a group, what characterises a team, how project teams are organised and what can make teams ineffective. Groups can be formal or informal depending on the circumstances. Work groups or teams are generally more focused on particular tasks and outcomes, and use processes that aim to achieve a unity of purpose, communication and action. I looked at six major types of team: functional, project, matrix, contract, self-managing and self-
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2.7.1 Thermosets

There are some limitations to the concept of the repeat unit when applied to crosslinked polymers, the thermosets. This is because of the complexity of the crosslinking reactions, the way molecules link together chemically during thermoset processing. For example, phenolic resins (the basis for materials like Bakelite) are prepared initially as prepolymers, i.e. polymers of low molecular mass (ca. 1000) by reaction between phenol and formaldehyde (
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2.3.3 Geometrical isomerism

A second type of isomerism occurs with diene monomers, and is present in both NR and butadiene rubbers (BR). It occurs because the single double bond in the final polymer can exist in two ways: a cis form and a trans form. The repeat unit shown in Table 3 for NR does less than justice to the two-di
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2.2 Mental models: implicit and explicit

We all have mental models of the world in which we live. We have mental models of ‘how X will react if I ask her to do a particular job’, of what would be ‘a nice holiday’, ‘what should happen if I turn up the thermostat on this heater’ and so on. Virtually all these models are so taken-for-granted that we do not even realise that they are models, i.e. that they are simplifications of the complexity around us. The significance of these implicit mental models is that they constrain
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