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Technology Terminology

Below is a list of terms that are related to Engineering Technology.  Simply click on the first letter of the word you wish to find and you will de directed to that part of the list.  Click the "Return to Quick Index" button to return to the top of the page. If a word is BOLD BLUE it is also a link to a more in depth definition or illustration of the word.  Simply click on it and you will be redirected to the link.




A or Return to Quick Index

Access Provider
AP  The company that provides you with Internet access and, in some cases, an online account on their computer system.

Active Window
The top or front window in a multiple window environment.
Advertise (or advertisemnt)
To describe or draw attention to (a product, service, or event) in a public medium in order to promote sales or attendance. Examples: T.V. ad, radio ad, flyers, posters, annopuncements, hand-outs, etc.
Aerodynamics is the study of airflow over and around objects.  The word comes from two Greek words: aerios , concerning the air, and dynamis , which means force.  In aerodynamics, the 2 forces that are analyzed are LIFT and DRAG.

Aerospace Engineer
Aerospace engineers design and develop some of the world's most marvelous machines. Commercial airplanes, military fighter jets, and space telescopes are all brainchildren of aerospace engineers. But aerospace technology has plenty of earthbound applications, such as aiding in the design of race cars and golf balls.

Software that lets users do relatively complex tasks, as well as create and modify documents. Common application types include word processors, spreadsheets, database managers, and presentation graphics programs.
Architectural Engineer
Architectural engineers focus on construction and building, including heating, air conditioning, electrical systems, and structural designs.  Safety, cost, and construction methods are applied.  For example, as the United States population grows in the Southwest, more and more architectural engineers are investigating new ways to build on land where there is only sand and sagebrush.
The process of putting many different pieces together to make a whole. (For example: when you buy a model car, you have to assemble the parts to make the model complete.)

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Backup file
In Windows 95, a compressed version of the original file and its locations created by Backup.

Bio Engineering
Bioengineering combines biology and engineering. Some of these engineers work closely with biologists and medical doctors to develop medical instruments, artificial organs, and prosthetic devices. Others investigate questions that involve technology and humans such as: How does working with computers all day affect one's health?
Basic Input-Output System. Part of the computer's operating system that is built into the machine, rather than read from a disk drive at startup.

A unit of measurement that represents one figure or character of data. A bit is the smallest unit of storage in a computer. Since computers actually read 0s and 1s, each is measured as a bit. The letter A consists of 8 bits which amounts to one byte. Bits are often used to measure the capability of a microprocessor to process data, such as 16-bit or 32-bit.

Generally used to describe an illustration or font file as being created by a predefined number of pixels. Also see Object-oriented.

Starting up a computer via the power switch, which loads the system software into memory. Restarting the computer via a keystroke combination is called rebooting or a warm boot.

A program that enables you to access information on the Internet through the World Wide Web.
Bridge Abutment
The foundation structure at each end of the bridge that supports the loads. These are usually made of cement or other heavy material and may be burried underground.
Bridge Member
Any of the many peices of the bridge truss that carry the load.
Bridge Span
The longest distance a bridge can be built between two land masses or supports .
Bridge Truss
A type of bridge whose main element is a structure of connected members that form triangular units. The word "Truss" is used because it is a very rigid structure and it transfers the load from a single point to a much wider area.

The amount of memory needed to store one character such as a letter or a number. Equal to 8 bits of digital information. The standard measurement unit of a file size.

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Compact Disk, Read-Only Memory. A type of storage device that looks just like an audio CD and stores as much data as a large hard disk (600MB), making it a popular means of distributing fonts, photos, electronic encyclopedias, games, and multimedia offerings. As the name indicates, however, you can't save or change files on a CD-ROM, only read them. Pronounced see-dee rom.
These letters stand for Chief Executive Officer.  A CEO is the boss of a company.  Formerly refered to as the President, he or she is responsible for everything that goes on in the company.  Supervisors report directly to the CEO.
These letters stand for Chief Financial Officer.  A CFO is the person in a company who is second in charge.  Formerly known as the Vice President.
Chemical Engineer
Chemical engineers take raw materials and turn them into the products that we use every day. This means that they are crucial to producing pharmaceuticals, soft drinks, and even makeup. Many chemical engineers work with petroleum and plastics, although both of these are the subject of independent disciplines. The term “environmental engineering” also applies to certain areas of chemical engineering, such as pollution control.
Chief Executive Officer
A CEO is the boss of a company.  Formerly refered to as the President, he or she is responsible for everything that goes on in the company.  Supervisors report directly to the CEO.
Civil Engineer
Working in one of the largest branches of engineering, civil engineers deal with buildings, bridges, dams, roads, and other structures. They plan, design, and supervise the construction of facilities such as high-rise buildings, airports, water treatment centers, and sanitation plants. In the near future, civil engineers will design the special rail beds for the magnetic levitation trains of tomorrow. And in the distant future of sci-fi speculation, it will be civil engineers who make Mars a hospitable habitat for humans.

An area used to temporarily store cut or copied information. The Clipboard can store text, graphics, objects, and other data. The Clipboard contents are erased when new information is placed on the Clipboard or when the computer is shut down.

Cyan, magenta, yellow, and black are the base colors used in printing processes. CMY are the primary colorants of the subtractive color model.

When a force squeezes or squishes an object together in towards the center. The force of compression manifests itself on the top side of the beam bridge's deck (or roadway). This causes the upper portion of the deck to shorten.

Computer Software Engineer
Computer engineers deal with all aspects of computer systems including design, construction, and operation. Some computer engineers specialize in areas like digital systems, operating systems, computer networks, and software. For example, we rely on computer engineers to design the software for a computer simulation that will test stress points in a bridge before it is built.
1. The components that make up a computer system (which model and what peripherals). 2. The physical arrangement of those components (what's placed and where). 3. The software settings that enable two computer components to talk to each other (as in configuring communications software to work with a modem).

Individuals that purchase and use goods and services.
A file sent to a web browser by a web server that is used to record once's activities.

A chip designed specifically to handle a particular task, such as math calculations or displaying graphics on-screen. A coprocessor is faster at its specialized function than the main processor is, and it relieves the processor of some work. A coprocessor can reside on the motherboard or be part of an expansion card, as with an accelerator.

Coaxial Cable
A type of cable that contains two conductors. The center conductor is surrounded by a layer of insulation, which is then wrapped by a braided-metal conductor and an outer layer of insulation.

Central Processing Unit; the brains of the computer. The CPU interprets and executes the actual computing tasks.

A problem (often caused by a bug) that causes a program, or the entire operating system, to unexpectedly stop working.

Refers to software (or anything else) that will work on more that one platform (type of computer).

The representation of the mouse on the screen. It may take many different shapes. Example: I-beam, arrow pointer, and hand.
Custom Manufacturing
The process of manufacturing a single item (or very small quantity) to fit one specific need or purpose. Custom manufactured products are usually very high quality. The manufacturing process can be changed easily during production, but the unit cost per item is usually very high.

A term used to refer to the electronic universe of information available through the Internet.

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Deck Truss
A bridge truss structure designed to have the truss members below the road bed.
A file created by a database manager that contains a collection of information organized into records, each of which contains labeled categories (called fields).
The failure of a product to conform to specification.  If an item is broken, damaged or otherwise unsuable in any way from being perfect from the manufacurer.
The entire field of view on the computer monitor once the computer boots up.  The desktop is usually where all the shortcut icons are located.

Dialog box
A window that displays additional options or questions when a command is chosen.

Data or voltages consisting of discrete steps or levels, as opposed to continuously variable analog data.

Digital Camera
A video or still camera that records images digitally to be viewed by a computer. You can then open the image on the computer and edit it any way you like.
These numbers represent the length, width, and height of an object. They should always include the units of measure, such as inches, feet or centimeters.

A system that your computer uses to organize files on the basis of specific information.

Disk Defragmenter
Arranges the blocks of information for a file into adjacent blocks on your hard drive, which may significantly improve the file access times.

Domain Name Server
A computer that converts host names, such as to its corresponding IP Address, such as An SDSU computer provides this service any time mail is sent or received and permits users to use TELNET and FTP between SDSU and other sites.

Disk Operating System. The operating system used on IBM personal computers and compatible machines.

To retrieve a file from another computer using a modem.

Dots Per Inch. A measure of the resolution of a printer, scanner, or monitor. It refers to the number of dots in a one-inch line. The more dots per inch, the higher the resolution.

In areodynamics, the force that is along the air flow direction is called drag.  In other words, it's the force that holds something back.  Smott, round edges reduce the amount of drag on a CO2 racecar and in turn should make it go faster.

A piece of software that tells the computer how to operate an external device, such as a printer, hard disk, CD-ROM drive, or scanner. For instance, you can't print unless you have a printer driver. Hard disk drivers are invisible files that are loaded into memory when you start the computer, while scanner drivers are usually plug-ins accessed from within a particular application.

Drawing Interchange Format used for Macintosh graphic files. The standard file-exchange format for 3-D and CAD programs.

Dye Sublimation
A printing process using small heating elements to evaporate pigments from a carrier film, depositing these smoothly onto a substrate.

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Electrical Engineer
Electrical engineering, the discipline that employs the largest number of engineers, covers everything related to electrical devices, systems, and the use of electricity. Electrical engineers work on power plants, computers, and other electrical devices. Electrical engineers are designing the dashboard computers that will monitor engine functions on automobiles of the future.
An electromagnet is a type of magnet in which the magnetic field is produced by the flow of an electric current.  This type of magnet is used in Magnetic Levitation situations where lots of magnetic force is needed.
Electronic Mail. Private messages sent between users on different computers, either over a network or via a modem connection to an on-line service or BBS.

File transfer formatting that enables encrypted, compressed or binary files to be transferred without corruption or loss of data.

A way of coding information in a file or e-mail message so that if it is intercepted by a third party as it travels over a network it cannot be read.

Encapsulated PostScript. An EPS file usually has two parts: a PostScript (text) description that tells a PostScript printer how to output the resolution-independent image, and (optionally) a bit-mapped PICT image for on-screen previews. (EPS files without a PICT preview is usually displayed as a gray rectangle.) EPS files generally can't be edited, even by the program that created them (Illustrator files are exceptions).

An IEEE 802.3 standard data link layer which can operate over several different media including fiber optic, coaxial cable and twisted-pair cable. This 10 million-bit-per-second networking scheme is widely used on campus because it can network a wide variety of computers; it is not proprietary; and components are widely available from many commercial sources.

Executable File
Refers to a file that is a program. Executables in DOS and Windows usually have an .exe or a .com extension. In UNIX and Macintosh environments, executable files can have any name.

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Frequently Asked Questions. A document that covers a topic of general concern to many users. FAQs are a good way for new users to get information on various aspects of the Internet.

A collection of information on a disk, usually a document or a program, that's lumped together and called by one name.

File Server
A computer that shares its resources, such as printers and files, with other computers on the network. An example of this is a Novell NetWare Server which shares its disk space with a workstation that does not have a disk drive of its own.

A piece of software that an application uses for file-format conversion or special effects. PageMaker, for example, has a filter that lets it import Microsoft Word files, while Photoshop has dozens of filters for special effects (such as image blurring). Filters can be part of the main application or external programs called plug-ins.

A mechanism that isolates a network from the rest of the Internet, permitting only specific traffic to pass in and out.
A device similar to a jig only it is mounted permanently on a tool or surface and not removed until the process is complete.   A device that aids in the manufacturing process by increasing accuracy.  The device could help drill a hole in the same place time and time again.  See also JIG.

Flatbed Scanner
Any scanning device that incorporates a flat transparent plate, on which original images are placed for scanning. The scanning process is linear rather than rotational.

Floppy Disk
A portable data storage device. The most common disks are 3 1/2" but there are still old 5 1/4" disks around. Floppy disks can store up to 1.44 megabytes of information and allow you to transfer information from computer to computer without any connections.

An object that can hold other objects, such as other folders and files.

The software that creates a typeface on a computer screen.
The four forces that are always acting on a moving object are: Lift, Thrust, Drag and Weight (or gravity)

To initialize a disk to prepare it for use. The disk is checked for errors and organized so that data can be recorded and retrieved. Formatting a used disk erases any previously stored information.

File Transfer Protocol. The Internet standard high-level protocol for transferring files from one computer to another across the network.

FTP site
A computer which stores files that can be retrieved using FTP. FTP sites which allow anyone to retrieve files (without having an account on that computer) are known as Anonymous FTP sites.

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Gigabyte. A unit of data storage size which represents 10^9 (one billion) characters of information.

Gigabit. 10^9 bits of information (usually used to express a data transfer rate; as in, 1 Gigabit/second = 1Gbps).
Generic Product
Generic brands of consumer products (often supermarket goods) are distinguished by the absence of a brand name.  They may be manufactured by less prominent companies, or manufactured on the same production line as a 'named' brand. Generic brands are usually priced below brand named products because they don't have to advertise for the generic products.

Graphic Interchange Format (pronounced jiff). A file compression format developed by CompuServe for transferring graphic files to and from on-line services.

1,024 megabytes, or 1,048,576 kilobytes of digital data.

Graphical User Interface (GUI)
The graphical visual representation of the working environment that presents the elements of your computer as objects on a desktop.

H or Return to Quick Index


Slang term for a technically sophisticated computer user who enjoys exploring computer systems and programs, sometimes to the point of obsession.

Hard Drive or (Hard Disk)
The permanent storage disk inside your computer. Software and other data is stored here. The size of hard drives are now typically measured in gigabytes.

Any peripheral equipment, mechanical or electrical, that can be connected to the computer. For instance; printers, scanners, modems, CPU's, disks.

Home Page
The document that is displayed when you first open a web client program. Also, commonly used to refer to the first document you come to in a collection of documents on a Web site.

The main computer system to which users are connected.

Name which officially identifies each computer attached to the Internet.

HyperText Markup Language. A system for tagging various parts of a Web document that tells the Web client programs how to display the document's text, links, graphics and attached media.

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International Business Machines Corporation.

A graphic symbol, usually representing a file, folder, disk or tool.

To bring data into a document from another document, often generated by a different application.

Industrial Engineer
Industrial engineers organize the people, information, energy, materials, and machines involved in the production process. They are concerned with plant design and management, quality control, and the human factors of engineering. Industrial engineers perform tasks such as finding the best location for a high-tech company's new plant.
Information Technology
Includes matters concerned with the furtherance of computer science and technology, design, development, installation and implementation of information systems and applications.

Initializing (formatting)
Setting up a disk (any kind) to receive information. When a disk is initialized (formatted), its magnetic media is divided into tracks and sectors, and structure files that your computer uses to keep track of data are created.

A utility that copies system software or an application from floppy disks or a CD-ROM to your hard disk. An Installer may also decompress the new files, remove obsolete files, place extensions and control panels in their proper folders, and/or create new folders.

The way a computer interacts with a user or a peripheral.

The Internet (note the capital I) is the largest internet in the world. It is a three level hierarchy composed of backbone networks (e.g., NSFNET, MILNET), mid-level networks, and stub networks. The Internet is a multiprotocol internet.
The point at which two lines meet.  

Internet Protocol is the standard that allows dissimilar hosts to connect to each other through the Internet. This protocol defines the IP datagram as the basic unit of information sent over the Internet. The IP datagram consists of an IP header followed by a message.

IP Address
Network addresses are usually of two types: (1) the physical or hardware address of a network interface card; for Ethernet this 48-bit address might be 0260.8C00.7666. The hardware address is used to forward packets within a physical network. (2) The logical or IP Address is used to facilitate moving data between physical networks and is made up of a network number, a subnetwork number, and a host number. All Internet addresses at SDSU have a network number of 130.191, a subnet number in the range of 1-254, and a host number in the range of 1-254.

Isometric Projection (Isometric Sketch)
Isometric projection (or an isometric sketch) is a method of sketching three-dimensional objects.  This drawing makes the object appear to be 3-D.  (It is used only as a visual aid. No dimensions should be added to this projection method)
Internet Service Provider. A company that provides access to the Internet. A service provider can offer simple dial-up access, SLIP/PPP access, or a dedicated line.


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An object-oriented programming language to create executable content (i.e. self-running applications) that can be easily distributed through networks like the Web.
A portable device that aids in the manufacturing process by increasing accuracy.  The device could help cut something to the same length time after time or help measure something without using a ruler.
Job Title
A job title is the name of the position you hold at your company, typically associated with a specific set of tasks and responsibilities. (Examples: Teacher, Architect, Lawyer)

Joint Photographic Experts Group is a graphic file format that has a sophisticated technique for compressing full-color bit mapped graphics, such as photographs.

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KiloByte. A unit of data storage size which represents 10^3 (one thousand) characters of information.

Kilobit. 10^3 bits of information (usually used to express a data transfer rate; as in, 1 Kilobit/second = 1Kbps = 1Kb).

Device used to manually insert text into the computer. It usually consists of all the letters of the alphabet, a numbered key pad, F-keys, and various keys for commands.

Specified words used in text search engines.

Kilobyte (Kb)
1,024 bytes of digital data.

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Local Area Network. A network of directly-connected machines (located in close proximity), providing high speed communication over physical media such as fiber optics, coaxial cable, or twisted pair wiring.

Laser Printer
Although a number of devices employ laser technology to print images, this normally refers to black-and-white desktop printers, which use the dry toner, xerographic printing process.

A 12-inch disk that's similar to an audio CD but holds visual images (such as high-quality movies) as well as music. Also called a videodisc.

(As an aerodynamic force)   The force perpendicular to the air flow direction. (In other words the force that pulls something up, or in some cases, pushes something down. (negative lift or aerodynamic downforce)  The CO2 car body can be designed in a way to create lift as it travels down the racetrack therefore reducing friction on the track and increasing the speed.

Synonymous with anchors, hotlinks and hyperlinks.

Line Art
Images containing only black and white pixels. Also known as bilevel images. The term line art is sometimes used to describe drawings containing flat colors without tonal variation.

The account name used to access a computer system.

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Mailing List
A list of Email users who are members of a group. A mailing list can be an informal group of people who share Email with one another, or it can be a more formal LISTSERV group which discusses a specific topic.

A large, multi-tasking computer that is used by many users.
The application of tools and processes to transform raw materials into finished goods for sale. In other words, the process of making products to be sold to consumers.
The process in which a person or group of people try to develop a plan to try to sell a product. (For example: making posters, announcements, web pages, sales pitches, etc.)
Mass Production
The process of manufacturing large quantities of a certain item. (For example, Hershey's kisses are mass produced) Many items can be made at once to save time and money, the per unit costs are low, but quality is sometimes sacrificed.

Math Coprocessor
Another name for a floating-point processor.

Maximize (Windows Operating System)
Maximizing the current window expands it and makes it the current application on the Desk Top.

Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical engineers use mechanics and energy principles to design machines such as engines and motors. Many mechanical engineers work in the areas of air-conditioning and refrigeration, automotives, manufacturing, welding, and robotics. They designed the robotically controlled braces that people with disabilities use to walk.
Megabit (Mb)
Megabit. 10^6 bits of information (usually used to express a data transfer rate; as in, 1 Megabit/second = 1Mbps).

Megabyte (MB)
MegaByte. A unit of data storage size which represents 10^6 (one million) characters of information.

Megahertz (MHz)
A million cycles (occurrences, alterations, pulses) per second. Used to describe the speed at which a computer's processor (or CPU) operates.

In general, another word for dynamic RAM, the chips where the computers store system software, programs, and data you are currently using. Other kinds of computer memory you may encounter are parameter RAM (PRAM), video RAM (VRAM), and static RAM (SRAM). Most computer memory is volatile, that is, its contents are lost when the computer shuts down.

A list of commands.

Menu Bar
The horizontal bar that contains the names of available menus. The menu bar is located below the title bar.

A collection of data that is ordered according to the rules of a given protocol suite, such that it is intelligible to the sending and receiving software.

Megahertz. A million cycles (occurrences, alterations, pulses) per second. Used to describe the speed at which a computer's processor (or CPU) operates. A 25-MHz processor can handle 25 million operations per second.

Minimize (Windows Operating System)
Minimizing the current window collapses it temporarily and sends it (still running) to the Task Bar.

A device that, once connected to a telephone line, will enable you to link to the internet or to other computers.

The viewing device connected to a computer. Like a TV it displays what you are doing on the computer, usually in color. The size of the monitor is determined by measuring diagonally from corner to corner.

Single-colored. An image or medium displaying only black-and-white or greyscale information. Greyscale information displayed in one color is also monochrome.

The heart, soul, and brains of a computer. This plastic board resembles a miniature city, but its buildings are actually chips for things like the processing, RAM, and ROM, and the tiny roads connecting them are circuit traces. Also called the logic board. There are no fatherboards or sonboards, but see daughterboard..

A device used to navigate around the computer screen and input information by means of pointing and clicking.

A file extension found on the World Wide Web that denotes that the file is a movie or video in QuickTime format.

Moving Pictures Expert Group. MPEG is an international standard for video compression and desktop movie presentation. You need a special viewing application to run the MPEG movies on your computer. MPEG II is a newer standard for broadcast-quality video.

Any presentation or software program that combines several media, such as graphics, sound, video, animation, and/or text.

The capability of an operating system to handle multiple processing tasks, apparently, at the same time.  For example: Running 2 or more software programs at the same time.  This would allow you to work between the two or more applications at the same time.
Mulit-View Drawings (also called: 3-View or Orthographic Projection Drawings)
A means of representing a three- dimensional object in two dimensions. It uses multiple views of the object, from points of view rotated about the object's center.  The three most common views are the Front view, Top view and Right Side view.

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Navigation Tools
Allows users to find their way around a website or multimedia presentation. They can be hypertext links, clickable buttons, icons, or image maps.

A form of online etiquette. This term refers to an informal code of conduct that governs what is generally considered to be the acceptable way for users to interact with one another online.

In general, a group of computers set up to communicate with one another. Your network can be a small system that's physically connected by cables (a LAN), or you can connect separate networks together to form larger networks (called WANs). The Internet, for example, is made up of thousands of individual networks.

Network Information Center. A organization that provides information, assistance and services to network users.

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Optical Character Recognition. A technology that lets you scan a printed page (with a scanner) and convert it into text document that you can edit in a word processor.

Actively connected to other computers or devices. You're on-line when you've logged on to a network, BBS, or on-line service. A device such as a printer is on-line when it's turned on and accessible to a computer. If you're not on-line then you're off-line.

On-line Service
A commercial service that (for a price) provides goodies such as e-mail, discussion forums, tech support, software libraries, news, weather reports, stock prices, plane reservations, even electronic shopping malls. To access one, you need a modem. Popular on-line services include America Online, CompuServe, and Prodigy.

Operating System
Software that supervises and controls tasks on a computer.
Straight, horizontal, vertical
Orthographic Projection (also called: 3-View or Mulit-View Drawings)
This drawing technique is a way to represent a three-dimensional object in two dimensions. It uses multiple views of the object.  The three most common views are the Front view, Top view and Right Side view.


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The unit of data sent across a packet switching network. While some Internet literature use the term to refer specifically to data sent across a physical network, other literature views the Internet as a packet switching network and describes IP Datagrams as packets.

Data transmission process, utilizing addressed packets, whereby a channel is occupied only for the duration of the packet transmission. SDSUnet is a are packet-switching network.

The oldest and most limited Macintosh graphic file format, holding only black-and-white bit maps at 72 dpi. Paint files (file type PNTG) are limited to 8 by 10 inches.

Parallel Cable/Parallel Port
A cable used to connect peripheral devices through a computer's parallel port. A type of port that transmits data in parallel (several bits side by side).

A word, number, or symbol that is typed after a command to further specify how the command should function.

A check bit used to make the sum of the bits in a unit of data either even or odd (including the parity bit). A unit of data that is 8 bits long would have no parity, and a unit of data 7 bits long would have an even parity bit to make an 8 bit word. Parity is used to check a unit of data for errors during transmission through phone lines or null modem cables.

To insert information from the Clipboard. Information can be pasted multiple times.

A route used in finding, retrieving, and storing files on a disk. The course leading from the root directory of a drive to a particular file..

A standard format for credit-card-size expansion cards, used to add features to laptop computers, hand-held computers, and desktop computers. The acronym stands for Personal Computer Memory Card International Association.

Portable Document Format. A PDF file is an electronic facsimile of a printed document.

A network setup that allows every computer to both offer and access network resources, such as shared files, without requiring a centralized file server. Macintosh computers utilize this type of network setup.

A piece of hardware that's outside the main computer. It usually refers to external hardware such as disk drives, printers, and scanners sold by a third party.
In business or industry the term personell refers to the employees working for that business or organization.

The standard macintosh graphic file format for animations. Essentially a collection of bit-mapped PICT images in sequential order, much like movie frames.

PICT is the standard macintosh graphic file format for graphics that are cut or copied to the Clipboard and for drawings that won't be output on PostScript printers. This format is ideal for on-screen presentations, but page layout programs sometimes have problems with PICT files. Files are sometimes called metafiles because they can contain both bit maps and QuickDraw-based objects.

A single, small square that makes up digital images. Digital images are composed of touching pixels, each having a specific color or tone. The eye merges differently colored pixels into continuous tones. The more pixels you have in a picture the “higher the definition” is. (ie: High Def)

A software compression utility for the PC. It allows you to compress or "zip" a file or a number of files into one archive file in the ZIP file format.

Extends the capabilities of a web browser, allowing the browser to run multimedia files.

A server using the Post Office Protocol, which holds users' incoming e-mail until they read or download it.

One of several rendezvous points where TCP/IP connections can be made on a computer. Ports are numbered, with several locations reserved for specific types of network activity, such as telnet on port 23, HTTP traffic on port 80 and USENET news (NNTP) on port 119.

The conversion of continuous tone data into a series of visible tonal steps or bands.

Post-Consumer Materials
The Paper, plastics, rubber, etc., recovered or recycled from discarded household, commercial, or industrial packages or products. In other words, things we would normally throw away or re-cycle when we're done with them.

Pixels per inch or pixels per centimeter. Units of measurement for scanned images.

Primary color
A base color that is used to compose the other colors.

A device that transfers information you create on the computer into a printed (paper) form. Most printers will output both black and white and color pages.

Process Ink Colors
CMYK pigments used in printing processes, chosen to produce the widest range of color mixtures.

The color characteristics of an input or output device, used by a CMS to ensure color fidelity.
To extend vertically or horizontally.
The act of moving an carrier of people or goods over a distance.  The power plant used to drive the vehicles can vary widely. Some common propulsion power plant are internal combustion engines, electric motors, steam engines, and magnetic levitation.

Information about an object, including settings or options for that object. For example, you look at properties of a file for information such as the file size, file type, and file attributes.

When data is being transmitted between two or more devices something needs to govern the controls that keep this data intact. A formal description of message formats and the rules two computers must follow to exchange those messages. Protocols can describe low-level details of machine-to-machine interfaces (e.g., the order in which bits and bytes are sent across wire) or high-level exchanges between application programs (e.g., the way in which two programs transfer a file across the Internet).

Software that has no copyright or fee, which means you can copy, use, and even alter and sell it.

Q or Return to Quick Index

Quality Control
To assure a product or service has a very high quality or does not have any defects. Quality Control can be monitored and controlled through the use of jigs and fixtures and by inspecting products and checking accuracy as they are made.
The process by which a web client requests specific information from a web server, based on a character string that is passed along.

A file extension for videos or "movies" (like animations) compressed using their QuickTime format.

R or Return to Quick Index

Random Access Memory. RAM is the most common type of computer memory, and it's where the computer stores system software, programs, and data you are currently using. It's formally called dynamic RAM (DRAM) because it's volatile, that is, the contents are lost when you turn off the computer (or crash). It's pronounced ram and measured in megabytes.

A synonym for grid. Sometimes used to refer to the grid of addressable positions in an output device.
To push away or to push apart.

In general, this refers to how sharp and clear an image looks on screen or on paper, and how much detail you can see. It's usually determined by the number of dots (or pixels) per square inch (the more there are, the higher the resolution) and is used to describe printers, monitors, and scanners.

Read-Only Memory. It's like software that's hard-wired into your computer - basic, permanent information that tells it things like how to load up the operating system when you turn it on.

A special purpose computer that attaches to two or more networks and routes packets from one network to the other. A router uses network layer addresses (such as IP Addresses) to determine if packets should be sent from one network to another. Routers send packets to other routers until they arrive at their final destination.

Rich Text Format. A file format for text files that includes formatting instructions. Also called Interchange Format.

S or Return to Quick Index

A device that converts printed images (such as photographs or text) into digital form so that they can be stored and manipulated on computers.

Screen Saver
A moving picture or pattern that is displayed on the screen when no activity takes place for a specified period of time.

Scroll Bar
The bar that appears at the right side or the bottom of a window that contains more information that can be displayed. The scroll bar is used to scroll an object or parts of a document into view when the entire object or document does not fit in the window.

Search Engines
A type of software that creates indexes of databases or Internet sites based on the titles of files, key words, or the full text of files.

Serial Cable/Serial Port
A cable used to connect peripheral devices through a computer's serial port. Normally a 25-pin connector on each end, yet can be a 9-pin on one. A Serial Port can either be plugged into an expansion slot on the motherboard of your computer or built into the motherboard itself. Serial ports are used for such devices as printers, mice, and modems.

A computer that shares its resources, such as printers and files, with other computers on the network. An example of this is a Novell NetWare Server which shares its disk space with a workstation that does not have a disk drive of its own.

Software that you can try before you buy. It's distributed through on-line services, BBSs, and user groups. You're allowed to try it out and give copies to others, but if you want to keep using it, you must pay the registration fee.

A set of programs that allow Macromedia Director animation files to be played over the internet with a web browser.

Organization or facility where a host is located.

Through negotiations with a vendor, a renewable fee has been paid to allow a fixed number of copies of copyrighted software at one site.

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. Internet standard protocol for transferring electronic mail messages from one computer to another. SMTP specifies how two mail systems interact and the format of control messages they exchange to transfer mail.

The actual programs that make the computer operate. For instance; word processing, graphic arts, spreadsheets and device drivers.

Software Engineer
These engineers design, construct, and operate things like digital systems, operating systems, computer networks, and the software to run them. .

Refers to the practice of blindly posting commercial messages or advertisements to a large number of unrelated and uninterested newsgroups.

A number-related document whereby calculations and formulas are applied to the data organized in rows and columns of cells.

Subnet Address
An extension of the Internet addressing system that allows a site to subdivide a single Internet address to cover multiple physical networks. This is done by dividing up the host address part of an IP Address into a local network number and host address number.

The base material used to carry out or support an image, for example, paper or film.
Supervisors are responsible for overseeing everything that goes on in their respective division.  They are not concerned with the other divisions in the company.

T or Return to Quick Index

An AT&T term for a digital carrier facility used to transmit a DS-1 formatted digital signal at 1.544 megabits per second.

Formatting codes used in HTML documents. These tags indicate how the parts of a document will appear when displayed by a Web client program.

An area that runs across the bottom of the desktop that displays all running programs as buttons (or icons). The current window is usually highlightd or shown as a depressed button, all other applications are displayed as raised buttons.

Transmission Control Protocol. This is a transport layer protocol that establishes a reliable, full duplex, data delivery service used by many TCP/IP application programs. The TCP software uses the IP protocol to transmit information across the Internet.

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. A set of protocols, resulting from ARPA efforts, used by the Internet to support services such as remote login (TELNET), file transfer (FTP) and mail (SMTP).

The Internet standard protocol for remote login (terminal connection) service. TELNET allows a user at one site to interact with a remote timesharing system at another site as if the user's terminal were connected directly to the remote computer.

When a force pulls something apart.  The result of the compression on the upper portion of the deck causes tension in the lower portion of the deck. This tension causes the lower portion of the beam to lengthen.

Communication device that lets a user send information to a computer by typing on a keyboard, and prints responses from the computer on paper or a screen.

Terminal Server
A small, specialized, networked computer that connects many terminals to a LAN through one network connection. A terminal server can also connect network users to asynchronous ports or a host.

Thermal Wax Transfer
A printing process using small heating elements to melt dots of wax pigment on a carrier film, which are then transferred to paper or transparent film by contact. This differs from the dye sublimation process in that individual dots do not fuse together, so thermal wax transfer appears to be of a lower resolution.

In the context of Windows NT, a thread is sometimes used to refer to an NT service. Threading also refers to a low-level system architecture concept used in some multitasking operating systems.
Three View Drawings (also called: Mulit-View or Orthographic Projection Drawings)
A means of representing a three- dimensional object in two dimensions. It uses multiple views of the object, from points of view rotated about the object's center.  The three most common views are the Front view, Top view and Right Side view.
Through Truss
A bridge truss structure designed to have the truss members above the road bed.

Tag Image File Format. A graphic file format, TIFF files are also bit maps, but they can be any size, resolution, or color depth. It is the most versatile, reliable, and widely supported bit-mapped format and is the standard format for saving scanned images. However, the format does have several variations which means that occasionally an application may have trouble opening a TIFF file created by another program.

Title bar
The horizontal bar at the top of a window. The title bar shows the name of the window.

A collection of buttons that typically make the more common tools for an application easily accessible.
Transportation Engineer
Transportation engineers design streets, highways, and other transit systems that allow people and goods to move safely and efficiently. For example, before constructing a new sports stadium, city officials rely on transportation engineers to plan traffic patterns that will prevent major tie-ups after the game.
Transportation Subsystem
Subsystems are the parts that need to be in place to make up the whole.  For example: a transportation subsystem consists of the following - the structure, propulsion, suspension, control, and guidance.

Transportation System
Transportation, like all other technologies, can be viewed as a system.  It is a series of parts that are interrelated.  All the parts work together to meet a goal. A transportation system uses people, artifacts, vehicles, pathways, energy, information, materials, finances and time.   ie: A complete facility consisting of the means and equipment necessary for the movement of passengers or goods.

U or Return to Quick Index

Send a file to another computer using a modem.

Uninterruptible Power Supply. A unit that switches to battery power whenever the power cuts out.

Uniform Resource Locator, a string of characters that represents the location or address of a resource on the Internet and how that resource should be accessed. World Wide Web pages are assigned a unique URL. Each hyperlink on a web page contains the URL of the page to be linked to. is the URL for this page.

A network of newsgroups. There are thousands of newsgroups available through USENET. Each one covers a specific topic or subject area.

User Id
The string of characters that identifies you. The name by which you are known to the network. Also known as username.

V or Return to Quick Index

A 12-inch disk that's similar to an audio CD but holds visual images (such as high-quality movies) as well as music. Also called a laserdisc.

A program that replicates itself from one file or disk to another without your consent. They are spread through floppy disks, networks, and on-line services and can go undetected (unless you have an antiviral utility) until something goes wrong. Some viruses deliberately destroy data, and even those designed to be benign can cause crashes, slowdowns, and file corruption.

Video RAM. A type of memory dedicated to handling the image displayed on a monitor. VRAM is built into many Macs, and it also comes on display cards.

W or Return to Quick Index

Wide Area Information Server. WAIS is best at searches for various sources of academic information that has been indexed based on content. Its indexes consist of every word in a document and each word carries the same weight in a search.

A graphical pattern displayed on the desktop.

Web browser
Also known as a Web client program, this software allows you to access and view HTML documents. Netscape, Mosaic, Lynx, WinWeb, and MacWeb are some examples of Web browsers.

Web page
A document created with HTML that is part of a group of hypertext documents or resources available on the World Wide Web.

A person or group of people who maintain and administer a web server. Webmaster also refers to a standard Email address at most web hosts where comments and questions can be sent.

Wide Area Network (WAN)
Network spanning multiple geographic distances, usually connected by telephone lines, microwave, or satellite links.

A character (usually * or ?) that can stand for one or more unknown characters during a search.

Microsoft software that adds a Mac-like graphical user interface to IBM PCs and compatibles.

Wind Tunnel
A wind tunnel is a device that simulates an object moving through air.  Most wind tunnels use powerful fans at each end to push and pull air through an enclosed area, called a tunnel.  An object can then be placed inside and tested for DRAG and LIFT.  Wind tunnels are an important tool for engineers when testing for the following criteria:  to measure amount of liftan object has (car, airplane wing, golf balls, etc.), to measure drag, estimate fuel efficiency of automobiles, estimate noise levels of automobiles, measure downforce on racecars, etc.
Witness Lines (or Leaders)
Witness lines are parallel lines that indicate what a dimension is measuring. The arrows of the dimension will point at these lines. Witness lines should never actually touch the shape it is dimensioning. (These lines are sometimes referred to as Leaders or Brackets)

Word Processing
Entering, editing and formatting text with the use of spelling checkers, outlining, tables, footnotes, and tables of contents.

A networked personal computing device with more power than a standard IBM PC or Macintosh. Typically, a workstation has an operating system such as UNIX that is capable of running several tasks at the same time. It has several megabytes of memory and a large high-resolution display.

World Wide Web or W3 is the hypermedia document presentation system that can be accessed over the Internet using software called a Web browser.

What you see is what you get. The image you see on the screen matches what will print on paper. Pronounced wizzy-wig.

X or Return to Quick Index

A data communications interface specification developed to describe how data passes into and out of public data communications networks. The CCITT and ISO approved protocol suite defines protocol layers 1 through 3.

Z or Return to Quick Index

A way of compressing a program or documents onto a small storage media.

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