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John Webster Compiles 24-Volume Electrical and Computer Engineering Encyclopedia

Reference materials relating to electrical and electronics engineering previously were limited to one-volume handbooks, but now academics, students and professionals looking for information on the discipline can reference Wiley's Encyclopedia of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, edited by Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor John G. Webster .

On campus, the encyclopedia's print version fills 3 feet of shelf space in the reference section of the Kurt F. Wendt Library.

The 24-volume, 19,000-page publication is the first and only multivolume reference work on the discipline, says Webster. Divided into 64 subject areas, it contains more than 1,400 articles, written by experts worldwide in each field, that describe every aspect of electrical and electronics engineering. The comprehensive encyclopedia defines the discipline by bringing together the core knowledge from each area, and reflects the field's latest advances and findings, including related literature and Web sites.

Webster with his encyclopedia

The Encyclopedia of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, which John G. Webster compiled and edited, occupies 3 feet of reference shelf space. (large image)

Recently Webster received the Engineering Libraries Division of the American Society for Engineering Education's 1999 Best Reference Award for the encyclopedia.

The reference work includes not only technical information about the electrical and electronic engineering discipline, but also such related topics as education, historical background of various fields, patents and computer and software engineering.

Its online version, which people on campus should be able to access by August, is enhanced by hyperlinks, programs, animation and color illustrations, and is updated quarterly with new and revised articles.

Because Webster previously edited the four-volume Encyclopedia of Medical Devices and Instrumentation, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., publisher of educational, professional, scientific, technical, medical and consumer materials, approached him several years ago about the possibility of compiling and editing the encyclopedia.

He and several assistants didn't actually start this mammoth project until four years ago.

To determine article topics, initially Webster referenced INSPEC's thesaurus of physics, electronics and computers terms, and selected article titles in electrical and electronics engineering. A 64-person advisory board of experts reviewed his selections and suggested authors, and Webster also consulted databases of articles to locate experts on the topics and invite them to write review articles for the encyclopedia. Additionally, to ensure all submissions were clear and accurate, two reviewers pertinent to each article reviewed them.

Webster enjoyed this seemingly grueling project. "What I liked most about compiling the encyclopedia was the ease with which I could obtain information on subjects and authors, using my office computer to access the extensive engineering databases provided by Wendt Library," he says.