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Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes.
- Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author
A - F
- Incorrigible humanity, therefore, led astray by the giant Nimrod, presumed in its heart to outdo in skill not only nature but the source of its own nature, who is God; and began to build a tower in Sennaar, which afterwards was called Babel (that is, 'confusion'). By this means human beings hoped to climb up to heaven, intending in their foolishness not to equal but to excel their creator.
- Only among those who were engaged in a particular activity did their language remain unchanged; so, for instance, there was one for all the architects, one for all the carriers of stones, one for all the stone-breakers, and so on for all the different operations. As many as were the types of work involved in the enterprise, so many were the languages by which the human race was fragmented; and the more skill required for the type of work, the more rudimentary and barbaric the language they now spoke. But the holy tongue remained to those who had neither joined in the project nor praised it, but instead, thoroughly disdaining it, had made fun of the builders' stupidity.
- When I looked at the science of engineering and saw that it had disappeared after its ancient heritage, that its masters have perished, and that their memories are now forgotten, I worked my wits and thoughts in secrecy about philosophical shapes and figures, which could move the mind, with effort, from nothingness to being and from idleness to motion. And I arranged these shapes one by one in drawings and explained them
- [Engineering concerns] the creative application of scientific principles to design or develop structures, machines, apparatus, or manufacturing processes, or works utilizing them singly or in combination; or to construct or operate the same with full cognizance of their design; or to forecast their behavior under specific operating conditions; all as respects an intended function, economics of operation and safety to life and property."
- American Engineers' Council for Professional Development (1941) as cited in: Danny Greefhorst, Erik Proper (2011) Architecture Principles: The Cornerstones of Enterprise Architecture. p. 9
- Engineers do not particularly like PR men.
- Algis Budrys, Hard Landing (1993), p. 188
- The civil engineer is the real 19th century architect.
- William Burges in: The Ecclesiologist, Vol. 28, 1867, p. 156:
- Engineers should press forward with development to meet the diversified needs of people
- A good scientist is a person with original ideas. A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few original ideas as possible. There are no prima donnas in engineering.
- I was originally supposed to become an engineer but the thought of having to expend my creative energy on things that make practical everyday life even more refined, with a loathsome capital gain as the goal, was unbearable to me.
- There are two laws discrete,
Law for man, and law for thing;
The last builds town and fleet,
But it runs wild,
And doth the man unking.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ode, Inscribed to William H. Channing
G - L
- Engineering is the conscious application of science to the problem of economic production.
- Halbert Powers Gillette (1910). cited in: T.J. Hoover & J.C. Lounsbury Fish. The Engineering Profession. Stanford University Press, 1941. p. 463
- The metalworker encourages the goldsmith,
and the one who smooths with the hammer
spurs on the one who strikes the anvil.
One says of the welding, “It is good.”
The other nails down the idol so it will not topple.
- It is a fight to the death between Big Oil and everybody else. Everybody else will benefit from HSR (high speed rail). It cleans up the air. It opens up all kind of new possibilities where you can live a more affordable life and get jobs further away...Everyone is going to benefit, except the oil industry, and that’s where the problem is.... There are some major changes needed to our transportation sector, which means that we need to electrify it. That will mean a whole lot of work for engineers...This is a huge project that the engineering profession needs to step up and be the leaders on.
It’s not just an opportunity that means lots of jobs. It means the engineering profession gets to be front and center when solving this humongous problem that everyone looks at as almost unsolvable. It’s not unsolvable. It’s very solvable.
- The world needs more engineers willing to solve problems and fewer rich philosophers who have run out of ways to spend money.
M - R
- Engineering is too important to wait for science.
- A good engineer is always a wee bit conservative, at least on paper.
- Architects and engineers are among the most fortunate of men since they build their own monuments with public consent, public approval and often public money.
- As a guide to engineering ethics, I should like to commend to you a liberal adaptation of the injunction contained in the oath of Hippocrates that the professional man do nothing that will harm his client. Since engineering is a profession which affects the material basis of everyone’s life, there is almost always an unconsulted third party involved in any contact between the engineer and those who employ him — and that is the country, the people as a whole. These, too, are the engineer’s clients, albeit involuntarily. Engineering ethics ought therefore to safeguard their interests most carefully. Knowing more about the public effects his work will have, the engineer ought to consider himself an “officer of the court” and keep the general interest always in mind.
- Hyman G. Rickover in The Rickover Effect (1992) by Theodore Rockwell.
S - Z
- The transition to renewable energy can be greatly accelerated if the world’s governments finally bring the engineers to the fore... I was recently on a panel with three economists and a senior business-sector engineer. After the economists spoke... the engineer spoke succinctly and wisely. “I don’t really understand what you economists were just speaking about, but I do have a suggestion... Tell us engineers the desired ‘specs’ and the timeline, and we’ll get the job done.” This is not bravado.... The next big act belongs to the engineers. Energy transformation for climate safety is our twenty-first-century moonshot.
- Jeffrey Sachs in For Climate Safety, Call in the Engineers, Project Syndicate (20 December 2018)
- A key characteristic of the engineering culture is that the individual engineer’s commitment is to technical challenge rather than to a given company. There is no intrinsic loyalty to an employer as such. An employer is good only for providing the sandbox in which to play. If there is no challenge or if resources fail to be provided, the engineer will seek employment elsewhere. In the engineering culture, people, organization, and bureaucracy are constraints to be overcome. In the ideal organization everything is automated so that people cannot screw it up. There is a joke that says it all. A plant is being managed by one man and one dog. It is the job of the man to feed the dog, and it is the job of the dog to keep the man from touching the equipment. Or, as two Boeing engineers were overheard to say during a landing at Seattle, “What a waste it is to have those people in the cockpit when the plane could land itself perfectly well.” Just as there is no loyalty to an employer, there is no loyalty to the customer. As we will see later, if trade-offs had to be made between building the next generation of “fun” computers and meeting the needs of “dumb” customers who wanted turnkey products, the engineers at DEC always opted for technological advancement and paid attention only to those customers who provided a technical challenge.
- Edgar H. Schein (2010). Dec Is Dead, Long Live Dec: The Lasting Legacy of Digital Equiment Corporation. p. 60
- A man should build a house with his own hands before he calls himself an engineer.
- Engineers simply refuse to eliminate a thing they call “safety factor.” They will deliberately over-design and over-build by a factor ranging from two to ten, depending upon the magnitude and seriousness of the consequences if something goes wrong. This does not mean that they have no confidence in their work. It is their statement of reality because they know good and well that sooner or later (a) somebody is going to goof, forget instructions, panic, or try to stretch the design, and/or (b) something in the system is going to malfunction.
- Engineering: The art of organizing and directing men, and of controlling the forces and materials of nature for the benefit of the human race.
- Henry Gordon Stott. Presidential address, 1908, to American Institute of Electrical Engineers. Cited in: Halbert Powers Gillette (1920) Engineering and Contracting. Vol. 54. p. 97
- Also attributed to National Engineering Societies Library (1907) in: T.J. Hoover & J.C. Lounsbury Fish. The Engineering Profession. Stanford University Press, 1941. p. 463
- Any job I do—if it doesn’t work, somebody pays. Possibly hundreds or thousands of somebodies. That’s the price of good engineering; nobody notices you did your job right.
- Engineering is the art of directing the great sources of power in nature for the use and convenience of man.
- These experiences are not 'religious' in the ordinary sense. They are natural, and can be studied naturally. They are not 'ineffable' in the sense the sense of incommunicable by language. Maslow also came to believe that they are far commoner than one might expect, that many people tend to suppress them, to ignore them, and certain people seem actually afraid of them, as if they were somehow feminine, illogical, dangerous. 'One sees such attitudes more often in engineers, in mathematicians, in analytic philosophers, in book keepers and accountants, and generally in obsessional people'.
The peak experience tends to be a kind of bubbling-over of delight, a moment of pure happiness. 'For instance, a young mother scurrying around her kitchen and getting breakfast for her husband and young children. The sun was streaming in, the children clean and nicely dressed, were chattering as they ate. The husband was casually playing with the children: but as she looked at them she was suddenly so overwhelmed with their beauty and her great love for them, and her feeling of good fortune, that she went into a peak experience . . .
- Colin Wilson in New Pathways In Psychology, p. 17
- Civil engineering
- Critique of technology
- Electrical engineering
- Engineering ethics
- Mechanical engineering
- Software engineering
- Systems engineering