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Home  > Article

Couple of Bucks Can Buy You All the Advice You'll Need

By John R. Platt

Looking for information about current technology trends and practical advice about your work in engineering? Here are five sources you should check out.

1. Technology Review

Price: $19.97

What it is: MIT's magazine on emerging technologies and groundbreaking innovations. An authoritative source for what's going on in infotech, biotech, nanotech, and business tech, and what trends will shape your career.

Where it's at: Better newsstands and

Benefits: Subscription price includes full access to their web site (updated daily) and eight years of digital magazine archives.

Drawbacks: Print version of the magazine is only published 8 times a year.

2. IEEE Spectrum

Price: $29.95 (or free with IEEE membership; professional dues start at $161)

What it is: The flagship monthly magazine of the IEEE, the world's largest professional technology association, exploring future technology trends and the impact of those trends on society and business.

Where it's at: Select newsstands and

Benefits: Great technology coverage, insightful and forward-thinking commentary, a growing amount of web-only content (including multimedia, blogs and podcasts).

Drawbacks: Overly cluttered and unattractive Web site, hard to subscribe to if you are not an IEEE member. Less frequent Web updates.

3. The Top Technical Journals in Your Field

Price: Varies.

What it is: In order to remain current in your field, you need to read more than just generally themed magazines. You need access to the newest peer-reviewed research published in technology journals.

Where it's at: Varies.

Benefits: Technical journals publish findings on the cutting edge of technology. The most recent research and discoveries out of academic, government and even corporate labs can be found in technical journals, which can in turn be used to support your own research activities. All published articles are peer-reviewed, meaning they have been "blessed" by impartial experts in your field. Most journals are now also part of huge electronic databases, bringing you easy (if costly) access to hundreds of current and historical papers.

Drawbacks: These journals can literally cost hundreds of dollars each, and may not come out more than a few times a year. Your subscription price will be significantly lower if you are a member of the professional society publishing the journal. Or better yet -- see if your employer will foot the bill.

4. Electrical Engineering 101: Everything You Should Have Learned in School but Probably Didn't by Darren Ashby

Price: $39.95

What it is: A book covering the practical side of engineering, including subjects such as intuitive circuit and signal analysis, physical equivalents of electrical components, and troubleshooting both digital and analog circuits.

Where it's at: Any good online or offline bookseller.

Benefits: A user-friendly guide good for students and beginning professionals.

Drawbacks: Published in 2005, so some information could already be out of date.

5. Intellectual Property Law for Engineers and Scientists by Howard B. Rockman

Price: $93.95

What it is: What the title says and more: a primer on patent, copyright, trade secret, trademark, mask work, and unfair competition laws.

Where it's at: Directly from the publisher at or any online bookseller

Benefits:Written by a lawyer and professor with decades of experience in patent law. The book features sample contracts and gives you all the points you need think about before you sign away any of your rights to your creations.

Drawbacks: Pricey (but cheaper than even an hour with a patent attorney). After reading it, you have to go out and invent something.


John R. Platt is a freelance writer and marketing consultant who often writes about technology, entrepreneurship, and the environment.

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