Book Review
Modern Standardization: Case Studies at the Crossroads of Technology, Economics and Politics

By Dr Ahmed S. Khan
Addison, IL

In 1494, when Christopher Columbus returned to Europe after discovering the new world, delegates from Spain and Portugal met in the Spanish village of Tordesillas to divide the new World. In accord with an earlier papal ruling, Portugal maintained dominance over what is known today as Brazil, while Spain asserted control over the rest of the Americas. Today, technical standards have come to resemble the treaty of Tordesillas.

During the past two decades, the economy of each nation has been significantly affected by the spread of globalization and advances in technology. Government regulations and private sector standards play a pivotal role in promoting world trade. To gain economic advantage, countries have been working together to establish international standards in almost every field. As a result, workers in all sectors of engineering and technology need to have an understanding of standards. Engineering and technology workforce and stakeholders must not only possess an understanding of engineering standards and applicable government codes, but also learn to apply them in designing, developing, testing and servicing new products, processes and systems.

Globally, more than half a million engineering and technology standards are considered as the basic building blocks for the development of new products that help drive the processes of compatibility and interoperability. Standards make it easier to compare competing products. As new standards are developed and adopted, they promote international trade and allow technical cooperation between organizations and countries.

In today’s global economy, the importance of the formal study of standards has been highlighted by the new demands of international trade. Politics of standards development and adoption is becoming a complex affair in an era of intellectual property rights. In today’s global marketplace, the major challenges are: (1) helping standards development organizations (SDOs) keep pace with the creation and development of products driven by new and emerging technologies; and (2) teaching those in the engineering and technology workforce, and students, the importance and applications of standards.

A recently published book Modern Standardization: Case Studies at the Crossroads of Technology, Economics, and Politics addresses these key challenges. It was written as a result of efforts by the IEEE Standards Education Committee (SEC) to gain better understanding of what products and services would be useful for standards education at the university level. The book covers up-to-date issues related to ethics, policies, and business strategies in standards developments.

The book is a useful resource for faculty, students, engineers, and entrepreneurs. Its major strength is the collection of standards-specific case studies which offer an opportunity to combine professors’ teaching preferences with real-world insights into the technical, political, and economic domains of engineering. Students can appreciate how standards experts and SDO working groups institute policies, procedures, and guidelines to develop and establish standards. Students can learn how to select and apply standards in new product designs and services. The book is primarily designed to be used as a supplemental resource for a course in standards.

The book is also a good reference for engineers and entrepreneurs, because it covers national and international standards development needs for a wide array of technologies such as smart energy grid, cyber security, wireless technologies, vehicles’ black box, electronic design automation (EDA), and the Internet and Internet of Things (IoT), and explores the push for open standards. The book presents a discussion on the collaboration efforts between the US and European standards organizations for promoting trade through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The book is also a good reference for engineers and entrepreneurs. It has nine chapters that cover national and international standards development needs for a wide array of technologies such as smart energy grid, cyber security, wireless technologies, vehicles’ black box, electronic design automation (EDA), and the Internet and Internet of Things (IoT), and explores the push for open standards. The book also presents a discussion on the collaboration efforts between US and European standards organizations for promoting trade through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The book ends with a section on "International SDOs Defined" that identifies major global SDOs, narrates their history, areas of interest in standards development, and their relationship and collaboration with other SDOs.

The book is a welcome addition to standards literature and serves as an important resource for all standards stakeholders: business managers, engineers, academics and students. It informs them how standards experts and SDO working groups establish the policies, procedures, and guidelines to ensure the integrity of the standards development process, thus enabling organizations to develop new products and promote global trade. (Dr Ahmed S. Khan ( askhan@devry.edu ) is a professor of electrical and electronics engineering in the College of Engineering and Information sciences, DeVry University, Addison, IL 60101)

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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