The Essential Engineer: Why Science Alone Will Not Solve Our Global Problemsby Henry Petroski
Pub. Date: 02/23/2010
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
From the acclaimed author of The Pencil and To Engineer Is Human, The Essential Engineer is an eye-opening exploration of the ways in which science and engineering must work together to address our world’s most pressing issues, from dealing with climate change and the prevention of natural disasters to the development of efficient/i>/i>/i>
From the acclaimed author of The Pencil and To Engineer Is Human, The Essential Engineer is an eye-opening exploration of the ways in which science and engineering must work together to address our world’s most pressing issues, from dealing with climate change and the prevention of natural disasters to the development of efficient automobiles and the search for renewable energy sources. While the scientist may identify problems, it falls to the engineer to solve them. It is the inherent practicality of engineering, which takes into account structural, economic, environmental, and other factors that science often does not consider, that makes engineering vital to answering our most urgent concerns.
Henry Petroski takes us inside the research, development, and debates surrounding the most critical challenges of our time, exploring the feasibility of biofuels, the progress of battery-operated cars, and the question of nuclear power. He gives us an in-depth investigation of the various options for renewable energy—among them solar, wind, tidal, and ethanol—explaining the benefits and risks of each. Will windmills soon populate our landscape the way they did in previous centuries? Will synthetic trees, said to be more efficient at absorbing harmful carbon dioxide than real trees, soon dot our prairies? Will we construct a “sunshade” in outer space to protect ourselves from dangerous rays? In many cases, the technology already exists. What’s needed is not so much invention as engineering.
Just as the great achievements of centuries past—the steamship, the airplane, the moon landing—once seemed beyond reach, the solutions to the twenty-first century’s problems await only a similar coordination of science and engineering. Eloquently reasoned and written, The Essential Engineer identifies and illuminates these problems—and, above all, sets out a course for putting ideas into action.
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.62(w) x 9.60(h) x 1.07(d)
Table of Contents
1 Ubiquitous Risk 3
2 Engineering Is Rocket Science 18
3 Doctors and Dilberts 29
4 Which Comes First? 45
5 Einstein the Inventor 59
6 Speed Bumps 71
7 Research and Development 93
8 Development and Research 105
9 Alternative Energies 124
10 Complex Systems 156
11 Two Cultures 173
12 Uncertain Science and Engineering 184
13 Great Achievements and Grand Challenges 198
14 Prizing Engineering 218
Illustration Credits 259
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Mr. Petroski does a good job outlining the differences between scientists and engineers and why engineering is essential to modern life and the solution to the global problems we face. Petroski is quite compelling in making the case for more emphasis on the "applied sciences" and engineering, both in funding and in the public eye. However, at points he seems to be whining about the perception of "second class citizen" status of engineers among scientists. As an engineer, I can relate...but whining about a problem generally doesn't solve it. Petroski does offer some good solutions to this and other problems, but it remains to be seen if he and his suggestions are taken seriously.