Agencies can touch base when evaluating designs

A British-developed knowledge base will become a subscription CD-ROM and Web service
for agencies that need help in evaluating conceptual engineering design proposals.

The knowledge base, developed by Engineering Sciences Data Unit (ESDU) of London,
contains data, equations, charts, graphs and Fortran computer programs of interest to
aerospace, mechanical, process and structural engineers.

“The Air Force never bought a fighter or any other aircraft without doing a very
substantial evaluation of the contractor’s design,” said Berle Larned, managing
director of ESDU, a subsidiary of Information Handling Services of Englewood, Colo.
“This kind of material is of tremendous assistance in validating design.”

About 450 technical libraries and engineering units currently subscribe to the ESDU
service, which averages about 50 users per institution.

ESDU began as a joint activity of the Royal Air Force and the Royal Aeronautical

A staff of engineers worked on a consulting basis with industry volunteers to build up
the knowledge base.

“The company is still guided by these volunteers, who are completely independent
and uncompensated,” Larned said.

All data added to the knowledge base undergoes review and validation by an advisory

In creating electronic versions of the knowledge base, Larned said, ESDU converted the
math to formal mathematical notations.

The next step is to make the most important equations interactive, he said. Upgrades
will have interactive charts, and ESDU’s 115 MS-DOS run-time programs will be
rewritten for Microsoft Windows.

Aircraft subjects covered in the ESDU knowledge base include aerodynamics, composites,
dynamics, endurance data, fatigue, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, metallic materials,
noise, structures, transonic aerodynamics, vibration and acoustic fatigue. Purely
electronic or electromechanical subjects such as avionics and guidance systems are not

ESDU has 1,250 data items in 230 volumes, which make up 19 series. The average
subscription costs $1,000 per volume or $350 per document.

For more information, visit the Web site at

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