I recently came upon the book 101 Things I Learned in Engineering School by John Kuprenas and Matthew Frederick (May 2013, Grand Central Publishing). It is part of the “101 Things I Learned Series” (billed as “books for the sophisticated beginner”) which offers entries in architecture, business, engineering, law, urban design, among other professions.
Upon first glance, I thought this little book was written for a very elementary audience. It consisted of no more than a paragraph or two explaining each of the 101 “things”, accompanied by a simple drawing illustrating the concept. At best, I thought that it might be a good introduction that I could recommend to anyone I knew who was considering studying engineering.
But I quickly became absorbed in this book. These authors had gone to some engineering school! Because yes, there were many things that I, too, had learned in engineering school — but there were several more that I had learned only after engineering work experience had piqued my curiosity. There were more that I hadn’t even really ever thought about until reading them right here in this “elementary” book. But most importantly, in my opinion, it captured exactly what I have found to the magic of engineering, the essence of what makes our job so interesting. Continue reading