Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Around the Table – Engineering

Roddy MacLeod casts an EEVL eye over engineering resources.


EEVL: The Edinburgh Engineering Virtual Library [1] can, I believe, make a fair claim to be the UK gateway to engineering information on the Internet, but it is not the only top level engineering gateway. Other catalogues and lists of Internet-based engineering resources include ICE: Internet Connections in Engineering [2] with a bias towards American resources, CEN: Canadian Engineering Network [3], pointing only to Canadian resources, EELS: Engineering Electronic Library, Sweden [4], the WWW Virtual Library: Engineering [5], again focused mostly on US resources, and the subscription-based Ei Village[6]. BUBL [7] and NISS [8] also include details of selected engineering resources.

There are also subject-based lists such as the UK Building Resource Pages [9] and the Building Information Warehouse [10].

The resources:

An analysis of the 1700 quality sites included in EEVL’s Main Database of Engineering Resources gives an overview of the makeup of engineering information on the Internet. EEVL’s breakdown by resource type is as follows (resources can be of more than one type):

Commercial 540
Society/Institution 276
Higher Education 272
Resource Guide/Directory 153
E-journal/Newsletter 112
Governmental 101
Document 73
Research Project/Centre 62
Mailing/Discussion List 61
Software 58
Database/Databank 49
Training Materials 39
Reference 31
Recruitment/Employment 22
Patents/Standards 20
Conference/Meeting Announcements 10
Frequently Asked Questions 8
Video 6
Library Catalogues 5

There is a preponderance of commercial/company sites, a large number of professional associations, societies, institutions and trade associations, and the majority of engineering departments at UK universities now have their own servers. A growing number of e-journals/newsletters are becoming available, but perhaps the surprise in the list is the relatively small number of reference and documents sites.

It is impossible to choose which are the most useful sites in each category, as usefulness depends entirely the information required at a given time. The following selections of mostly UK resources are therefore only indicative of what is available, and may omit various substantial or favourite sites.

There is considerable uniformity in the content of engineering departmental Web sites from UK universities. Understandably, nearly all showcase their departments and are aimed primarily at prospective students. Most consist of a profile of the department, giving details of research, teaching and courses on offer, a staff directory, lists of departmental publications, a contact address, and often local information. While occasional gems can be found, especially in the areas of research interests and special projects, few match the content of some sites from larger US universities such as North Carolina State University’s Visualizations in Materials Science [11] which has interactive modules in materials science, or the Polymer Chemistry Hypertext [12] resource from the University of Missouri.

Many professional associations have developed substantial Internet resources. Especially notable is the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) [13] site which contains not only the sort of information one might expect about the Institution, its Groups and activities, but also provides access to the IEE library catalogue, the text of Interlink [14] its quarterly international newsletter, an industry news section, a lengthy events calendar, and exhaustive links to related Web sites. Other important associations with useful sites include the Institution of Civil Engineers [15] with its ICENet News [16] section giving industry news. A user-id and password is required to access the ICE Library Catalogue, and the home page of the New Civil Engineer [17], the magazine of the Institution of Civil Engineers, is found at a completely different site.

The Society of Chemical Industry [18] has an impressive amount of material at its site, including an excellent online version of its twice monthly printed publication, Chemistry & Industry [19] which provides news and features on chemistry and related sciences. Other notable resources include the Welding Institute[20] whose Connecting to the world [21] set of links to related sites is Clearinghouse [22] approved.

The Association of Consulting Engineers [23] with the text of its ACE Journal [24], the Institute of Materials [25], the Institute of Petroleum[26], the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors [27], the Institution of Chemical Engineers [28], and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers [29] (about to be relaunched) are all worth a visit. Not to be forgotten is the Engineering Council [30].

Perhaps one example will suffice as a typical engineering company Web site. The most recent one added to EEVL was that of Jenkins Newell Dunford Ltd. [31], a company which designs and manufactures a range of process plant and equipment. It is attractively designed, but gets straight down to business by giving details of the rotary tube furnaces and swarf cleaning plant available from the company. Not surprisingly, it reads like a company brochure aimed at those with some knowledge of process engineering. Engineers tend to have far more interest in product information than their scientific counterparts, and this is reflected in the number of similar commercial engineering Web sites.

Resource guides and directories come in all shapes and sizes. Engineering UK [32] is fairly typical of the genre with its large database of products and companies, its appointments database, engineering stock price lists, and news stories. More specialised guides include the Rheology Home Page [33], the Offshore Engineering Information Service [34], SteelWeb [35], the promising ChemWeb [36], and the PVC Centre [37].

EEVL’s Evaluation Report[38] noted a demand by engineers for online journals. Versions of a number of good quality trade journals are available on the Web, and some have been mentioned above. Others include Electrical Review [39], Electronics Weekly Hyperactive [40], and the Mining Journal [41].

A growing number of subscription-based e-journals are being published, for example Estates Gazette Interactive [42], and there are many sites giving tables of contents and abstracts, rather than the full text of articles, such as the International Journal of Numerical Methods in Engineering [43]. On the whole, engineering does not fare as well as other disciplines in this area, although the development of the following refereed e-journals bodes well for the future: Terra-Nova: The European Journal of Geosciences [44], Journal of Corrosion Science and Engineering [45], and Optical Diagnostics in Engineering [46].

The Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) [47] at Oxford University should be included in any list of good UK engineering sites, as should Contaminated Land [48].

Criticism is occasionally levied at the quality of resources found on the Internet. I hope that the above examples, which do not include various mailing lists, recruitment agencies, reference materials, software, and other categories, show that there are a number of very useful engineering resources currently available. It is still early days in the life of the Internet, and one exciting feature of being involved with EEVL is in seeing new sites being announced every day.


  1. EEVL: The Edinburgh Engineering Virtual Library
  2. ICE: Internet Connections in Engineering,
  3. CEN: Canadian Engineering Network
  4. EELS: Engineering Electronic Library, Sweden
  5. WWW Virtual Library: Engineering,
  6. Ei Village,
  7. BUBL,
  8. NISS,
  9. UK Building, Resource Pages,
  10. Building Information Warehouse,
  11. Visualizations in Materials Science,
  12. Polymer Chemistry Hypertext,
  13. Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE),
  14. Interlink
  15. Institution of Civil Engineers,
  16. ICENet News,
  17. New Civil Engineer Web Site,
  18. The Society of Chemical Industry,
  19. Chemistry & Industry Web Site,
  20. Welding Institute Web Site,
  21. Connecting to the world,
  22. Clearinghouse
  23. Association of Consulting Engineers
  24. ACE Journal,
  25. Institute of Materials,
  26. Institute of Petroleum,
  27. Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors,
  28. Institution of Chemical Engineers,
  29. Institution of Mechanical Engineers,
  30. Engineering Council,
  31. Jenkins Newell Dunford Ltd,
  32. Engineering UK,
  33. Rheology Home Page,
  34. Offshore Engineering Information Service,
  35. SteelWeb,
  36. ChemWeb,
  37. PVC Centre,
  38. EEVL’s Evaluation Report,
  39. Electrical Review,
  40. Electronics Weekly Hyperactive,
  41. Mining Journal,
  42. Estates Gazette Interactive,
  43. International Journal of Numerical Methods in Engineering,
  44. Terra-Nova: The European Journal of Geosciences,
  45. Journal of Corrosion Science and Engineering,
  46. Optical Diagnostics in Engineering,
  47. The Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS),
  48. Contaminated Land Web Site,

Author Details

Roddy MacLeod
Project Manager (Information),
EEVL eLib project
Email: libram@bonaly.hw.ac.uk
Tel: 0131 451 3576
Fax: 0131 451 3164
Address: Heriot-Watt University Library, Edinburgh, EH14 4AS