Since the autumn of 2003, Contemporary Controls has sponsored the virtual Industrial Ethernet University (IEU). The company realises that, because of the evolving nature of the workplace and the equipment that supports it, learning is of continuing concern in this technology. The site has expanded its offerings and the number of students and graduates grow daily.
IEU offers objective, content-rich education on Ethernet, especially as it relates to installation on machines and in factories. There are 2000 students studying all or some of the 19 courses focusing on both basic and advanced topics. Students are required to take exams to verify comprehension. All material is based on the IEEE Std. 802.3 and relevant Request for Comments (RFCs). It is vendor-neutral, since the purpose of the virtual university is to educate the public for the benefit of the industry. In addition, students are able to explore the opinions of 11 guest lecturers on the site.
Bill Lydon, a Business Development Consultant who has worked in the controls and automation field for more than 25 years, has made this observation about IEU: "I have reviewed the Industrial Ethernet University offerings, and I am sure control engineers, manufacturing, and IT people will want to use this free resource.
"Many companies struggling with Ethernet waste a great deal of time and money solving configuration and network setup problems because they do not have a solid understanding of this technology. Taking advantage of this online site is a great way to gain knowledge on subjects including hubs versus switches, internet protocol, subnetting, SNMP, virtual LANs and much more."
Additional reference information may be obtained through the university's library and bookstore. The bookstore has a direct link to www.amazon.com.
William Greer, the company's Senior Product Specialist, is the IEU's virtual professor. Greer will answer any question by private email. If he is unable to provide sufficient clarification, other experts from the company or outside sources will be consulted.
Currently, there are more than 200 graduates. These students have mastered and completed the minimum ten courses. Upon 'graduation' the student receives a certificate of accomplishment and the opportunity to add his or her name to the IEU Alumni Directory.
Many graduates feel IEU sets a good example of online learning. "I found the courses to be invaluable to my work and to my studies," says one graduate. "Learning was easy. The material is well-structured with illustrations to support the concepts. In the self-paced learning format, you can go back and read the information as often as you need before taking the exams. Thanks to IEU I am able to solve more problems encountered with networks than I was before enrolling."
However, graduation is not mandatory. The student can choose his or her courses of interest. To sign up at no cost, students may visit the 'campus' at www.ieu.cc to learn how Ethernet technology works.