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R & D by engineers

R & D by engineers


Research and Development (R&D), or research and technical (or technological) development (RTD), is a general term for activities in connection with corporate or governmental innovation. R&D is a component of Innovation and is situated at the front end of the Innovation lifecycle. Normally, the R & D department of a company is headed by an engineer or staffed by engineers. This department even can be out-sourced to a university or a research agency. According to Wikipedia “In the U.S., a typical ratio of research and development for an industrial company is about 3.5% of revenues; this measure is called "R&D intensity". A high technology company such as a computer manufacturer might spend 7%”. This is valid even in the Sri Lankan context, and some reputed companies own incubator cells in the University sector and some even named as company labs in the university.


Why I decided to discuss this matter in the editorial is for the serious concern; are we really spending enough resources for R & D? I am really doubtful. One simple example is, if you refer the Engineer Journals of IESL for the last 10 years, you will not find a considerable number of papers from the industry. This situation is far below compared to developed countries. It also demonstrates the interest level of the Sri Lankan engineers on R & D activities. Recently in the Library and Publications committee, this matter was discussed and some active young members proposed to conduct a series of seminars/workshops to enhance the technical writing skills of engineers. Most of the engineers feel that the reason for lack of technical writing skills among engineers as due to insufficient access to technical material and hence no proper update in technical writing after their graduation. This is partly true, because, after the graduation young engineers are serving 24/7 for their company and they do not find time for technical updates. Other obvious reason is the lack of interest.


I personally have observed new inventions or new ways of doing things proposed by engineers being now in good shape in the industry. Sometimes, those have been even proposed by trainees during their in-plant training. Unfortunately, those are in practice only and not discussed among the engineering community. The avenue to publish this is very clear; it is the Engineer Journal of IESL. Of course, it will be refereed and serious comments received. However, it has to be treated positively to develop their career.


I request the engineers to promote R & D in the industry and to start writing technical papers. It is the responsibility of IESL to organize necessary workshops/seminars for engineers targeting more technical papers for IESL annual sessions and the Engineer Journal by the engineers in the industry. This could be co-authored by academics with their input, but not as a requirement for an MSc or MEng or PhD degree for their students. This has to be solely to upgrade the R & D skills of engineers in the industry and to elevate them to international level.


Udeni P. Nawagamuwa

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