Standards play an integral role in the life of the practicing engineer/technologist. Every aspect of a career based on technology requires that the practitioner has at the least a working knowledge of how standards affect work assignments. This includes identifying existing standards as well as participating in the decision process needed to determine when new or revised standards will best serve the goals of the work assignment.
Standards can and do apply to technologies covered by patents and copyright ownership. Thus, a standard may require that a license be obtained before a product is built to meet the subject standards. Or, if the patent is "yours," you can expect that others who wish to build to the standard will pay you a royalty for a license to use your patent.
Management of standards is in itself an engineering/technology specialty and many large technical corporations have "core" corporate standards management specialists. These standards specialists are typically senior design/manufacture people who understand both the technology in question and the business and legal implications. In most cases these core specialists are supported by other employees who bring in specific design, manufacturing, sales and support expertise. These standards management specialists frequently gain visibility in their industry and may hold high-level offices in the standards development organizations in which their company has an interest. In those roles the person must always remember that they hold a post that must serve the interest of the industry/public, even if it is in opposition to their company’s position/goal.
The IEEE Standards in Education Task Force (SETF) is developing domain tutorials to provide an understanding of standards in various technological domains, such as communications or power. In addition, it is preparing case illustrations that examine the use of standards for a particular design task, such as the design of a multi-mode cell phone. These domain tutorials and case illustrations can be accessed through the portal page of this web site.
To see examples of the application of standards in a real-world context, please visit the Case Illustrations page.