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An Engineer's Alphabet: Gleanings from…

An Engineer's Alphabet: Gleanings from the Softer Side of a…

by Henry Petroski

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Henry Petroski’s Engineer’s Alphabet is a book only an engineer could love. He basically runs through the entire field, culling together an alphabetic list of terms, phrases, and lists that embody the field. In it, you get an interesting idea of the world that engineers inhabit. From asphalt cookies to engineer fight songs to the patent system to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and everything in between, there’s a whole panoply of fun and interesting entries covering the entire history of engineering. Here are few of my favorites:

• Two U.S. Presidents have associated with engineering: Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter.
• Glenn L. Martin Hall, one of the engineering buildings at the University of Maryland, was built to look like a slide rule when viewed from above.
• Murphy’s Law was the rule of thumb of Captain Ed Murphy, an aircraft engineer.
• Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a British engineer responsible for the Great Western Railway as well as the ship instrumental in laying the first transatlantic cable, ranked above Princess Diana and William Shakespeare in a 2002 poll to list the greatest Britons in history.

This one isn’t a quick book, but it did have its fair share of witty asides and intriguing tidbits. If you have a friend or relative who’s in the field, this one would make a fine addition their library. ( )
  NielsenGW | Dec 13, 2013 |
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"Written by America's most famous engineering storyteller and educator, this abecedarian is one engineer's selection of thoughts, quotations, anecdotes, facts, trivia, and arcana relating to the practice, history, culture, and traditions of his profession. The entries reflect decades of reading. writting, talking, and thinking about engineers and engineering, and range from brief essays to lists of great engineereing achievements. This work is organized alphabetically and more like a dictionary than an encyclopedia. It is not intended to be read from first page to last, but rather to be dipped into here and there as the mood strikes the reader. In time, it is hoped, this book should become the source to which readers go first when they encounter a vague or obscure reference to the softer side of engineering"--… (more)

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