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Engineering and the Mind's Eye Reprint Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0262560788
ISBN-10: 026256078X
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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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; Reprint edition (March 29, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 026256078X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262560788
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #640,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is great for students who are thinking of persuing a course in engineering. Ferguson adresses what makes a great engineer, and also states that many schools do not stress the courses they should. Using this book, students gain insight as to what they should expect from being an engineer, and what is imporant in the profession. I definately recommend this book to those who are about to be college freshman engineers or are thinking of changing over from liberal arts & sciences to engineering.
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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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Format: Paperback
...is more important than knowledge." This fine book examines the deep roots of this simple and wise truth. The author takes us on a journey of discovery within our [engineering] profession and shows us where we originated from, and [unfortunately] where we are headed. The author has the courage to come out and say what many, if not most, in the field of engineering would like to say, but for one reason or another have not: Academia is producing more and more clinical analysts, and less and less true engineers. He examines and clarifies the difference between the two and goes on to explain how we have arrived at this strange place so far away from the road that we should be on. He further offers some of, but certainly not all, the solutions for getting ourselves back on track as a profession.
I found this book to be wonderfully entertaining and incredibly insightful about the field(s) of engineering and how we think, communicate, advance in our profession(s). Being a graduating senior in a dying breed of EEETs at Montana State University, I have generally found the author profoundly on the mark, and recommend this book for everyone even associated with the field of engineering and most especially, the educators!
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A short, nicely written book. A must read for those with an interest in history of technology, engineering or education. Time well spent for almost any intellegent reader. A lot of "bang for your buck" with this one!
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Format: Paperback
Far from being a book solely for engineers or people who work with engineers, this book is a wonderful analysis of how solutions in any realm are reached. I am a photographer not an engineer and I found it not only fascinating but also useful to me as an artist. As Ferguson says,

"There is often no a priori reason to do one thing rather than another, particularly when neither has been done before. No bell rings when the optimum design appears. The principles and techniques of engineering design can never be fully articulated, however much those promoting a "design science" may believe that a designer's judgment can be incorporated in a general-purpose computer program.
—Engineering and the Mind's Eye, Eugene S. Ferguson, p. 9

The book urges total immersion in one's craft in an all inclusive way. He asks the engineer to use touch, hearing, and smell not just sight. This advice is equally relevant to the sculptor, the biologist, the house painter, the fine arts painter, and just about anyone who attempts to make, modify, or repair anything.
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Format: Paperback
This gave me a better understanding of the history of the my profession than any other book I have. It also pointed out gaps in my education which I hadn't even realized I had. All engineers should read this.
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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.
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