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Engineering and the Mind's Eye (MIT Press)

Engineering and the Mind's Eye (MIT Press)

Engineering and the Mind's Eye (MIT Press)
By Eugene S. Ferguson

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Book Description

In this insightful and incisive essay, Eugene Ferguson demonstrates that good engineering is as much a matter of intuition and nonverbal thinking as of equations and computation. He argues that a system of engineering education that ignores nonverbal thinking will produce engineers who are dangerously ignorant of the many ways in which the real world differs from the mathematical models constructed in academic minds.


Book Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #799989 in Books
  • Brand: Brand: MIT Press
  • Published on: 1994-03-29
  • Ingredients: Example Ingredients
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 8.50" h x .44" w x 6.25" l, .78 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 264 pages

Editorial Reviews

Review

A sophisticated, thoughtful, and provocative analysis of thenature of engineering.

(Steven Lubar Science)

Like many a 'little book' by a master, the reader will find it overflowing with ideas and insights. It is a book that will reward many rereadings.

(Henry Petroski, Duke University)

From the Back Cover
In this insightful and incisive essay, Eugene Ferguson demonstrates that good engineering is as much a matter of intuition and nonverbal thinking as of equations and computation. He argues that a system of engineering education that ignores nonverbal thinking will produce engineers who are dangerously ignorant of the many ways in which the real world differs from the mathematical models constructed in academic minds.

About the Author

Eugene Ferguson is Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Delaware.


Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
5Well-Written and Well-Argued
By Jiang Xueqin
In "Engineering and the Mind's Eye," Eugene Ferguson offers a compelling argument that the way we perceive and educate engineers today is at odds with the way the reality of being a good engineer:

"Necessary as the analytical tools of science and mathematics most certainly are, more important is the development in student and neophyte engineers of sound judgment and an intuitive sense of fitness and adequacy.

"No matter how vigorously a 'science' of design may be pushed, the successful design of real things in a contingent world will always be based more on art than on science. Unquantifiable judgments and choices are the elements that determine the way a design comes together. Engineering design is simply that kind of process. It always has been; it always will be."

This book is an urgent plea to restore engineering education as one of tinkering and artistry -- and the author is absolutely right.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
5I was looking for a "popular engineering" book,...
By Stephanie Goldbach-Aschemann
I was looking for a "popular engineering" book, not one solely about history of engineering or of the "how does it work?" kind, but one like the many there are on popular science. This is an essay which delineates the history of mechanical and civil engineering from a special perspective. The author shows how the approach and teaching of engineering moved back and forth between a scientific or analytical and a more practical or nonverbal kind of view. There are many examples and different kinds of illustrations. But there is no single right" solution to the design of a machine like there is one solution to a mathematical problem. The engineer has to use the nonverbal mind's eye. Ferguson not only emphasises the need for nonverbal thinking and communication, but also that the mind's eye and a feeling or intuition for design can only be developed by doing and practice.

This book is interesting for engineers as it gives a sort of overview that can be easily lost solving particular problems during training or working as an engineer. I learned a lot about engineering, its relation to science, its history and about technical rawings and can recommend it to everybody who works with engineers.

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful.
5How to put Design and Experience back into Engineering
By John C. Dunbar
This book should be required reading for all engineers. It reviews how the art, practical and design type courses were taken out of the engineering schools in the 1950's and how those schools are now correcting the situation.
The author reviews the importance of practical experience and the ability to sketch... particularly for chief engineers.
Most impressive and perhaps most important was the panoramic history of engineering, design and creativity. The book has beautiful pictures and an extensive bibliography.
I found interesting that Leonardo's notebooks were only part of the many notebooks prepared during the Renaissance. And, that many of them copied drawings of earlier works. Lots of pictures of these notebooks are included, along with pictures of the extensive use of models (mostly fortifications) used at this time... and all the way up to WWII.
The author discusses how CAD systems really help on the productivity but include so many limiting asssumptions that they may stifle creativity. Particularly bad from the author's point of view is the over reliance on math. He points out that most engineering problems are messy, and not amenable to a clean mathematical solution. And, that we have all these younger engineers looking only for clean problems so they can put their math training to work. Unfortunately, nature is not so co-operative.
His solution: more drawing and more practical experience. For example, budding engineers should get out into the field and go see the problem, or visit other plants. They should build prototypes and learn how to operate a lathe. In this regard he likes Dutch and German engineering schools best.
This is a great book that any engineer should add to his permanent collection.
John Dunbar
Sugar Land, TX

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