Engineering Insight


Periodically, an aspersion is cast on an Engineer for their approach to a problem. I came across this quote a number of years ago ( about when I started Engineering ), and it always makes me smile in recognition.
“Engineering is the art of modeling materials we do not wholly understand, into shapes we cannot precisely analyze, so as to withstand forces we cannot properly assess, in such a way that the public has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance.” --attributed to Dr. A.R. Dykes ( at British Institution of Structural Engineers 1976 ). I think this pretty much applies to any type of Engineering.


I think that when the whole intersection of materials/structures/performance is well known, it’s called “building.”


engineer (en-je-neer’) 1. n. An individual who turns abstractions into malfunctions.


Speaking of imperfect knowledge in engineering, if you haven’t already read it, you might enjoy this book:

We learn more from failure than from success.


Optimist: "The glass is half full."
Pessimist: "The glass is half empty."
Engineer: “The glass is twice as big as it should be.”


We had a saying in the Navy about maintenance on those multi-million dollar fighter jets. It takes a high school diploma to fix what a college graduate broke.


PhD Researchers discover interesting breakthroughs that they have no idea what to do with. Engineers take those interesting breakthroughs and make stuff that works out of it.
Toolmakers make the tools to build those things and complain about the engineers who designed it.
Technicians fix those things and complain about the engineers who designed it.
Smart engineers talk to the toolmakers and technicians and redesign it to address those complaints - and reduce the work available for those toolmakers and technicians because the product is cheaper and better. Sad, but true.


Parts man ; The glass is the wrong part number for the application.
Lawyer ; Who’s fault is it the glass doesn’t fit the water ?

Then there’s me …( who needs more facts )
’‘Well, that depends’’ ( drives ‘em nuts )
’‘on what ?’’ they concede.
’’ on whether you’re in the process of filling it and stopped halfway, then it’s half full.
Or if it was full and you poured out half, then it’s half empty.’’