25, 2001, Gazette)
mice and pen
You just never know whos watching. Thats the lesson
learned by Dr. Ross Peters, whose Web-posted lecture notes presented
the semi-retired engineering professor with an unusual opportunity
Since 1997, Dr. Peters has supplemented his undergraduate course
The Engineering Profession, in which he uses examples of great
engineers from history to set inspiring professional examples,
with Web resources for students, such as his own lecture notes
and helpful links to further reading.
It was just the convenience for students, he explained.
That and the fact that I wanted them to reach material
in other locations, like professional engineering pages, and
to explore relevant material at other institutions around the
One of Dr. Peters Web-posted examples was of a British
engineer by the name of Isambard Kingdom Brunel (18061859),
best-remembered as the designer of the Great Eastern, the steamship
that laid the transatlantic cable on the ocean floor from Ireland
to Newfoundland in the 1860s.
Though Brunel had been dead for several years before his
ship came in to Hearts Content, students always find his
local connection interesting, Dr. Peters said. And
I particularly like his drive to innovate, and also to accept
professional, personal responsibility and risk.
Someone else was interested in Brunel, too. Just before Christmas
break, Dr. Peters got an e-mail from a BBC History Online assistant
producer, who explained that she had found his lectures online
and wanted to commission him to write an article. The paper would
be posted on the BBC site in support of a broadcast documentary
about Victorian engineers, airing this month (only in the UK).
Dr. Peters was surprised.
Anyone who puts material on a site for students to read
is aware that the whole world can look over their shoulder,
he said. So the fact that they found the course notes is
not surprising because any search would turn it up. But that
they thought it worth basing an article on for the BBC
that was a bit flattering, and intimidating, too.
Dr Peters final piece, for which he was also paid, is posted
online at www.bbc.co.uk/history/discovery/bypeople/brunel_01.shtml.
Dr. Peters says the fact that unintended audiences sometimes
read online postings impacts his Web work.
You have to be more conscious of the quality of what you
write, with it all waving out there in the breeze, he laughed.