Invention by Design: How Engineers Get from Thought to Thing

In "Invention by Design", Henry Petroski (Professor of Civil Engineering and History at Duke University) describes the creative process by which objects as ubiquitous and as familiar as paper clips, aluminum soda cans, zippers, and "lead" pencils have arisen. In so doing, he invites the reader into the human activity of engineering. The invitation is made explicit with a short essay near the end of each chapter, in which he poses open-ended problems remaining to be solved. About half of the book discusses massive design problems: airliners, bridges, skyscrapers, water resources and waste disposal. This book would be an excellent choice for your students who are considering careers in engineering, without being quite sure what engineers do. Unfortunately, Petroski sticks with mechanical, civil, architectural, and aeronautical engineering, and does not deal with chemical engineering in this volume, so your students will have find out about that elsewhere.

Pick Attribution: 

Henry Petroski

Publication Date: 
Monday, January 1, 1996