For this post I am going to throw a curve-ball at all my readers and not write about software. Rather, I am going to share with you a website that I consider to be a hidden gem of the internet for engineers.
That gem is… drum roll please… EngineeringToolbox.com.
The Engineering Toolbox is an online tool primarily for design engineers that provide resources, tools, and basic information all in one place. It is not exclusively for engineers either as it can be used effectively by anyone in any of the STEM fields.
In general, it is a robust website whose main selling point is its content. Along the left hand margin there is an array of sections ranging from acoustics and combustion all the way to thermodynamics and water systems. Essentially, each section is the title of a course you took during undergrad as an engineer.
Within each section there are subtopics that allow you to go even more in depth on a particular subject area. For instance, the acoustics section features rudimentary explanations of phenomenon such as blade pass frequency or the Doppler effect. Unlike a Wikipedia page, the subsections provide you with what you need to know without the excess paragraphs explaining why Henry XL of Wales did not fund this research area in 1396.
The website also offers many online calculators (for example, they have a Heat Loss from Piping calculator), material property databases, and many charts detailing coefficients (such as stress concentrations) for use in calculations.
The main feature that I use the most from this software is the unit converter. Being an engineer in the United States, one often has to convert calculations into SI units from English units and this website is very helpful for such tasks.
Yet another benefit this site provides is its content on professional codes and standards such as the ASME standards. The official published works of these professional societies still need to be bought through proper channels and interpreted by the engineering department at your firm. However, the website offers charts, references, and guidance on the sometimes hard to decipher handbooks published by these professional societies.
Furthermore, the website offers compatible versions for smartphones, tablets, and desktops so that the user can always have an optimized version of the toolbox at their disposal. The site itself is also user friendly and easy to navigate despite the fact that it looks archaic and was probably coded during the Windows XP era.
The major con I believe is that it is plagued by large obtrusive ads right in the middle of the screen (see below for a screenshot). Other websites have their fair share of ads but they are usually off to the side and easy to ignore. In contrast, for this website, they actually get in the way of finding the information you need to get to. So like I said in the beginning of this post, the main selling point for this website is its content.
Overall, I visit this site on a weekly basis both for academic and professional purposes. It is very useful if you are sitting in either a class or meeting and need to look up something quickly. It is also useful during the design process of a certain widget for your firm where it provides accurate information.
SO… if you have a second, take my word for it and check out: EngineeringToolbox.com!