Social networks aren’t just for the kids these days. Professional online communities today offer unprecedented opportunities to connect with peers, stay up-to-date on trends and best practices and find solutions for your toughest occupational challenges.
And even if you’re in a specific field (like engineering), there are a growing number of industry-based networks that can be great resources.
Below are six engineering networking sites that we like, and think you will too.
The Engineering Exchange is a social network that connects over 11,000 engineers around the world. You can use the Engineering Exchange to view and share videos or blog posts, and participate in forum discussions about the topics that matter to you. The Engineering Exchange also lets you connect with engineers in similar positions, locations or industries and browse a resource section full of 3D CAD models, job listings and content leaderboards.
Engineering.com offers a variety of free tools, an extensive engineering library and several subject-based directories—geared toward engineers of all disciplines. And recently, Engineering.com launched Electronics Design, a microsite that covers industry news and commentary specifically for electrical engineers.
LinkedIn is already well-known as a professional networking site where individuals can connect with peers and business partners and look for jobs. But with LinkedIn Groups, industry-focused professionals have a designated place to gather and ask questions, or share advice and articles. There are countless LinkedIn groups that appeal to engineers, but here are a few of our favorites:
This group is for engineers who share a need for, well, anything—whether it’s a whitepaper, consulting services or an engineer to help you draw up your design. ELFS was created by an electrical engineer, and it’s a great resource for getting your project back on track.
With over 10,000 members, Electrical Engineers World is one of the largest electrical engineering communities on LinkedIn. You can participate in discussions on topics ranging from electrical engineering ethics to the proper way to measure insulation resistance, as well as crowdsource answers to tricky electrical engineering questions.
This group is designed for engineers tasked with using PLM to manage CAD data. Come here to learn from other companies who are using PLM to manage and share complex CAD data.
Because tweets are limited to 140 characters, Twitter is an easy way to pick up the latest engineering top news and headlines. And by following the tweets of industry leaders, you can get quick insight into what’s trending in the product design and engineering twittersphere.
Here are six Twitter profiles that tweet interesting engineering content every day:
5. Open Source Platforms
Open source sites are a great place for open collaboration and learning. The leader in open source design is Arduino, which has a website that encourages social networking through its blog, a publicly editable Wiki and a forum where you can post questions and share experiences.
Another great open source platform is CodePlex, Microsoft's free open source project hosting site where engineers can create and share projects, collaborate with others, and download open source software.
Quora is an online question and answer community, where users can post and answer questions, collaborate and respond to answers posted by other users. Answers on Quora feel more like conversations, and often represent a diversity of thought on a given topic. Here are a few engineering-focused Quora boards to follow:
These are just a handful of the valuable resources online today that help engineers keep up with new innovation and trends in the design world. Which online communities do you use to stay connected?