Editor's Letter: farewell and a look back at some highlights
Image credit: E&T
As E&T’s editor-in-chief prepares to say goodbye, he picks out some highlights from the last 15 years – what are yours?
This month's issue looks into how technology is improving or replicating the human senses. Is engineering any closer to a $6m man - or $6bn post-human? What can animals sense that we can't but technology might?
But this is also a welcome to my last issue of E&T magazine. A lot has changed since I joined IEE Review, as it was then, over 20 years ago. And some things haven’t changed much at all.
Our first issue of E&T, combining a suite of bimonthlies into a fortnightly magazine, was in 2008. Issues we were covering then just never seem to go away, even if they’ve evolved. Letters about the status of engineers still fill our mailbag. The industry’s skills shortages haven’t got much better and, if anything, have got worse.
Women in engineering was a big issue then and still is, with slow improvement. In one issue, we ensured that 89 per cent of the images were of women – it was tricky to pull off, but it made a point about the profession’s ratio.
The diversity issue has widened. E&T was the first such title to cover the experiences of LGBTQ+ engineers, long before Savoy Place flew a rainbow flag. We were also the first to feature a transgender person on our cover.
The world has changed too. Our most commented upon article was a sceptic’s view of global warming by Johnny Ball (of ‘Think of a Number’ fame). As the question moved from a legitimate area of public debate to an almost universally accepted truth, our coverage moved completely on to solutions and mitigation. Climate change remains the biggest challenge facing the world, and if anything is going to help towards a resolution it will be engineering and technology.
In recent years we’ve been pursuing exclusives that have won our writers investigative journalism awards or have later been covered by national broadcasters. We were joint first with the stories about biomass imports and recently we exposed some wiring safety scandals.
But let’s not forget the fun. Memorable special issues for me include the Bond and espionage specials, the underground issue and ‘The Imitation Game’ cover. There have been so many more put together by our brilliant team of editors and designers. Let us know your favourites on the E&T Group on LinkedIn.
The best thing about this beat is that there is always something new and exciting to cover. It moves so fast but sometimes we got ahead, like with our cover story about the coming smartphone revolution, which now touches just about everyone on the planet, or artificial intelligence, which the rest of the world is just waking up to.
Twenty years ago, I’d switch on Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme and hear one or two engtech stories. Now, it’s in every other story, from electric vehicles to big tech. You can’t get away from it. And I’m sure I won’t.
E&T magazine is taking a summer break and will be back in the autumn with some new faces. It’s been a privilege to edit this magazine for you. Thank you.
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