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University Student Quotes

Henry Petroski Quotes

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Science is about knowing; engineering is about doing  (Henry Petroski Quotes) All conventional wisdom has an element of truth to it, but good design requires more than an element of truth - it requires an ensemble of correct assumptions and valid calculations.  (Henry Petroski Quotes) Read and write with a sensitive ear. The craft of writing is very important. Practice the craft.  (Henry Petroski Quotes) The space shuttle was designed, at least in part, to broaden our knowledge of the universe. To scientists, the vehicle was a tool; to engineers, it was their creation.  (Henry Petroski Quotes) Everything we do is designed, whether we’re producing a magazine, a website, or a bridge. Design is really the creative invention that designs everything.  (Henry Petroski Quotes) Too much redesign has to do more with fad and fashion than with fitness and function. It is change for the sake of change. Such redesign is not only unnecessary, it is all too often also retrogressive, leading to things that work less effectively than those they were designed to replace.  (Henry Petroski Quotes) I have always been fascinated by the way things work and how they came to take the form that they did. Writing about these things satisfies my curiosity about the made world while at the same time giving me an opportunity to design a new explanation for the processes that shape it.  (Henry Petroski Quotes) Although engineers want always to make everything better, they cannot make anything perfect. This basic characteristic flaw of the products of the profession’s practitioners is what drives change and makes achievement a process rather than simply a goal.  (Henry Petroski Quotes) The definition of ‘safe’ is not strictly an engineering term; it’s a societal term. Does it mean absolutely no loss of life? Does it mean absolutely no contamination with radiation? What exactly does ‘safe’ mean?  (Henry Petroski Quotes) We call the fates of the Titanic and the Concordia - as well as those of the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia - ‘accidents.’ Foreseeing such undesirable events is what engineers are expected to do. However, design trade-offs leave technological systems open to failings once predicted, but later forgotten.  (Henry Petroski Quotes) Indeed, an engineer designing a structure is not unlike an artist painting one. Both start with nothing but talent, experience, and inspiration. The fresh piece of paper on the drawing board is as blank as the newly stretched piece of canvas.  (Henry Petroski Quotes) I’m a firm believer that no matter how small an object is, you can find interesting things out about it and its history.  (Henry Petroski Quotes) A common misconception about how things such as space shuttles come to be is that engineers simply apply the theories and equations of science. But this cannot be done until the new thing-to-be is conceived in the engineer’s mind’s eye. Rather than following from science, engineered things lead it.  (Henry Petroski Quotes) Many of the familiar little things that we use every day have typically evolved over a period of time to a state of familiarity. They balance form and function, elegance and economy, success and failure in ways that are not only acceptable, but also admirable.  (Henry Petroski Quotes) I was always told that I was good in mathematics, and I guess my grades and standardized test scores supported that. My worst subjects were those that generally involved a lot of reading - English and history. So, having good test scores in math and mediocre ones in reading, I was naturally advised to major in engineering in college.  (Henry Petroski Quotes) I employ case studies of failure into my courses, emphasizing that they teach us much more than studies of success. It is not that success stories cannot serve as models of good design or as exemplars of creative engineering. They can do that, but they cannot teach us how close to failure they are.  (Henry Petroski Quotes) My first book, ‘To Engineer Is Human,’ was prompted by nonengineer friends asking me why so many technological accidents and failures were occurring. If engineers knew what they were doing, why did bridges and buildings fall down? It was a question that I had often asked myself, and I had no easy answer.  (Henry Petroski Quotes) Design is nothing if not decision making  (Henry Petroski Quotes) There’s so much written about the Titanic, and it’s hard to separate what’s fact and what’s fiction. My understanding is that the way the Titanic was designed, the emphasis was placed on surviving a head-on collision  (Henry Petroski Quotes) The Book of the Heart provides a fresh perspective on the influence of the book as artifact on our language and culture. Reading this book broadens our appreciation of the relationship between things and ideas  (Henry Petroski Quotes) We can’t simply blame the engineers when things go wrong because, no matter how well they plan, things don’t always go according to plan  (Henry Petroski Quotes) For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by things large and small. I wanted to know what made my watch tick, my radio play, and my house stand. I wanted to know who invented the bottle cap and who designed the bridge. I guess from early on I wanted to be an engineer.  (Henry Petroski Quotes) Failures are much more dramatic than successes, and people like drama. I think this is why automobile races draw such crowds. People expect spectacular crashes, which we tend to find more interesting than cars just racing around the track. The same is true of bridges, buildings, or any structure or machine.  (Henry Petroski Quotes) The most amazing achievement of the computer software industry is its continuing cancellation of the steady and staggering gains made by the computer hardware industry  (Henry Petroski Quotes) Engineers are not superhuman. They make mistakes in their assumptions, in their calculations, in their conclusions. That they make mistakes is forgivable; that they catch them is imperative. Thus it is the essence of modern engineering not only to be able to check one’s own work but also to have one’s work checked and to be able to check the work of others  (Henry Petroski Quotes) Any design, whether its for a ship or an airplane, must be done in anticipation of potential failures  (Henry Petroski Quotes) I emphasize that virtually every engineering calculation is ultimately a failure calculation, because without a failure criterion against which to measure the calculated result, it is a meaningless number  (Henry Petroski Quotes) What is commonly overlooked in using the computer is the fact that the central goal of design is still to obviate failure, and thus it is critical to identify exactly how a structure may fail. The computer cannot do this by itself  (Henry Petroski Quotes) A failed structure provides a counterexample to a hypothesis and shows us incontrovertibly what cannot be done, while a structure that stands without incident often conceals whatever lessons or caveats it might hold for the next generation of engineers  (Henry Petroski Quotes) Case studies of failure should be made a part of the vocabulary of every engineer so that he or she can recall or recite them when something in a new design or design process is suggestive of what went wrong in the case study  (Henry Petroski Quotes)
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