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Title: Opportunities in Engineering
Author: Horton, Charles M. (Charles Marcus), 1879-
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Harper & Brothers
Publishers New York and London


Copyright 1920, by Harper & Brothers
Printed in the United States of America
Published April, 1920


  CHAP.                                                    PAGE

     I. ENGINEERING AND THE ENGINEER                          1

    II. ENGINEERING OPPORTUNITIES                             9

   III. THE ENGINEERING TYPE                                 16

    IV. THE FOUR MAJOR BRANCHES                              24

     V. MAKING A CHOICE                                      31

    VI. QUALIFYING FOR PROMOTION                             38

   VII. THE CONSULTING ENGINEER                              48

  VIII. THE ENGINEER IN CIVIC AFFAIRS                        54

    IX. CODE OF ETHICS                                       62

     X. FUTURE OF THE ENGINEER                               68


   XII. THE PERSONAL SIDE                                    85




Several years ago, at the regular annual meeting of one of the major
engineering societies, the president of the society, in the formal
address with which he opened the meeting, gave expression to a thought
so startling that the few laymen who were seated in the auditorium
fairly gasped. What the president said in effect was that, since
engineers had got the world into war, it was the duty of engineers to
get the world out of war. As a thought, it probably reflected the secret
opinion of every engineer present, for, however innocent of intended
wrong-doing engineers assuredly are as a group in their work of
scientific investigation and development, the statement that engineers
were responsible for the conflict then raging in Europe was absolute

I mention this merely to bring to the reader's attention the tremendous
power which engineers wield in world affairs.

The profession of engineering--which, by the way, is merely the adapting
of discoveries in science and art to the uses of mankind--is a
peculiarly isolated one. But very little is known about it among those
outside of the profession. Laymen know something about law, a little
about medicine, quite a lot--nowadays--about metaphysics. But laymen
know nothing about engineering. Indeed, a source of common amusement
among engineers is the peculiar fact that the average layman cannot
differentiate between the man who runs a locomotive and the man who
designs a locomotive. In ordinary parlance both are called engineers.
Yet there is a difference between them--a difference as between day and
night. For one merely operates the results of the creative genius of the
other. This almost universal ignorance as to what constitutes an
engineer serves to show to what broad extent the profession of
engineering is isolated.

Yet it is a wonderful profession. I say this with due regard for all
other professions. For one cannot but ponder the fact that, if
engineers started the greatest war the world has ever known--and
engineers as a body freely admit that if they did not start it they at
least made it possible--they also stopped it, thereby proving themselves
possessed of a power greater than that of any other class of
professional men--diplomats and lawyers and divinities not excepted.

That engineering is a force fraught with stupendous possibilities,
therefore, nobody can very well deny. That it is a force generally
exercised for good--despite the World War--I myself, as an engineer, can
truly testify. With some fifteen years spent on the creative end of the
work--the drafting and designing end--I have yet to see, with but two or
three rare exceptions, the genius of engineers turned into any but noble

Thus, engineering is not only a wonderful profession, with the
activities of its followers of utmost importance, but also it is a
profession the individual work of whose pioneers, from Watt to
Westinghouse and from Eiffel to Edison, has been epoch-making.

For when James Watt, clock-repairer, tinker, being called into a certain
small laboratory in England more than a century ago to make a few minor
repairs on a new design of steam-engine, discovered, while at work on
this crude unit deriving its motion from expanded steam and the
alternate workings of a lever actuated by a weight, the value of
superheated steam for power purposes, and later embodied the idea in a
steam-engine of his own, Watt set the civilized world forward into an
era so full of promise and discovery that even we who are living to-day,
despite the wonderful progress already made in mechanics as represented
among other things in the high-speed engine, the dynamo, the airplane,
are witnessing but the barest of beginnings.

Likewise, when George Westinghouse, inventor of the airbrake, having
finally persuaded the directors of the Pennsylvania Railroad, after many
futile attempts in other directions, to grant him an opportunity to try
out his invention, and, trying it out--on a string of cars near
Harrisburg--ably demonstrated its practicability as a device for
stopping trains and preventing accidents, he also--as had Watt before
him--set the civilized world forward into an era full of promise and
discovery as yet but barely entered upon, even with the remarkable
progress already made in industry alone in the matter of regard for the
safety of human life--Westinghouse's own particular blazed trail through
the forest of human ignorance this same airbrake.

So with other pioneers--with Eiffel, in the field of tower construction;
with Edison, in the field of electricity; with the Wright brothers, in
the field of aerial navigation; With Simon Lake, inventor of the
submarine boat. All were pioneers; all set the civilized world forward;
all--though this perhaps is irrelevant, yet it will serve to reveal the
type of men these pioneers were and are--all overcame great
obstacles--Lake not the least among them.

Told that he was visionary, when Lake explained, as he did in his effort
to enlist capital with which to build his first submarine boat, that he
could safely submerge his invention and steer it about on the bed of the
ocean as readily as a man can steer an automobile about the streets of a
city, that while submerged he could step out of the boat through a
trap-door without flooding the boat, by the simple process of
maintaining a greater air pressure inside than the pressure of the water
outside--Simon Lake, discouraged on every hand, finally decided to build
a boat himself, and did build one, with his own hands--a boat fourteen
feet long and constructed of rough pine timbers painted with
coal-tar--in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. With this boat Lake
demonstrated to a skeptical world for all time that he was neither a
visionary nor a dreamer, but a practical doer among men--an engineer.

Of such stuff, then, were, and are, engineers made. Whether they
realized it or not, whether the world at large realized it or not, each
represented a noble calling, each was a professional man, each was
chiseling his name for all time into the granite foundations of a
wonderful profession even yet only in the building--engineering. Their
name is legion, too, and their names will last because of the fact that
their work, remaining as it does after them equally with the work of
followers of the finest of the fine arts, is known to mankind as a
benefit to mankind. Known by their works, the list extends back to the
very dawn of history.

For it was men of this calling, the calling of engineers, who in the
early days wrought for purposes of warfare--warfare then being the major
industry--the javelin, the spear, the helmet, the coat of mail, the
plate of armor, the slingshot; just as their later brothers, for a like
purpose, conceived and devised the throwing of mustard gas, the two-ton
explosive, the aerial bomb, the mortar shell, the hand-grenade--for the
protection, false and true, of the home. For the upbuilding of the home,
for the continuance of the home, men of this calling also it was who
conceived and shaped, among other things, the cook-stove, the chimney,
the wheel, the steam-engine, the spinning-jenny, the suspension-bridge,
the bedspring-oh, boy!--the bicycle, the sandblast, the automobile, the
airplane, the wireless.

Thus it will be seen that engineering is a distinctive and important
profession. To some even it is the topmost of all professions. However
true that may or may not be to-day, certain it is that some day it will
be true, for the reason that engineers serve humanity at every practical
turn. Engineers make life easier to live--easier in the living; their
work is strictly constructive, sharply exact; the results positive. Not
a profession outside of the engineering profession but that has its
moments of wabbling and indecision--of faltering on the part of
practitioners between the true and the untrue. Engineering knows no such
weakness. Two and two make four. Engineers know that. Knowing it, and
knowing also the unnumbered possible manifoldings of this fundamental
truism, engineers can, and do, approach a problem with a certainty of
conviction and a confidence in the powers of their working-tools nowhere
permitted men outside the profession.



The writer can best illustrate the opportunities for young men which
exist in engineering by a little story. The story is true in every
particular. Nor is the case itself exceptional. Men occupying high
places everywhere in engineering, did they but tell their story, would
repeat in substance what is set forth below. More than any other
profession to-day, engineering holds out opportunities for young men
possessing the requisite "will to success" and the physical stamina
necessary to carry them forward to the goal. Opportunities in any walk
of life are not all dead--not all in the past. A young man to-day can go
as far as he wills. He can go farther on less capital invested in
engineering than in any other profession--that's all.

The young man's name was Smith. He was one of seven children--not the
seventh son, either--in a poor family. At the age of sixteen he went to
work in overalls on a section of railroad as a helper--outdoor, rough
work. At seventeen he was transferred to the roundhouse; at nineteen he
apprenticed himself to the machinist trade. Engineering? He did not know
what it was, really. Merely he saw his way clear to earning a livelihood
and went after it. He was miserably educated. His knowledge of
mathematics embraced arithmetic up to fractions, at which point it faded
off into blissful "nothingness"--as our New-Thoughtists say. But he had
an inquiring mind and a proper will to succeed. While serving his three
years in the shop he bought a course in a correspondence school and
studied nights, taking up, among other things, the subject of mechanical
drafting. When twenty-two years of age he applied for, and got, a
position as draftsman in a small company developing a motorcycle. He was
well on his way upward.

He spent a year with this company. He learned much of value to him not
only about mathematics, but about engineering as a whole as well. One
day he decided that the field was restricted--at least, too much so for
him--and he left and went with a Westinghouse organization in
Pittsburgh. His salary was in the neighborhood of a hundred and ten
dollars a month. He remained with the company two years as a designer,
and then, having saved up sufficient funds to meet his needs, went to
college, taking special work--physics and chemistry and mathematics. He
remained in school two years. When he came out, instead of returning to
the drafting-room and the theoretical end of the work, he donned
overalls once more and went to work in the shop as an erecting man. Two
years afterward he was chief operating engineer in a small cement-plant
in the Southwest, his salary being three thousand dollars a year. A year
of this and he returned East, at a salary of four thousand dollars a
year, as operating engineer of a larger plant. Then came a better offer,
with one of the largest, if not the very largest, steel-plants in the
country, as superintendent of power, at a salary of five thousand
dollars a year. When the war broke out, or rather when this country
became involved in the war, my friend Smith, at a salary of ten thousand
dollars a year, became associated with a staff of engineers brought
together into a corporation manufacturing shells. And all before he was
barely in his thirties!

A young man still, what lies ahead of him can readily be surmised. Smith
will follow engineering on salary until he is probably forty, when he
will enter upon a consulting practice, and at fifty retire with
sufficient money to keep him in comfort the remainder of his days. Nor
will he be an exception, as I have stated in the opening paragraph. The
profession is crowded with men who have worked up from equally humble
beginnings. Indeed, one of the foremost efficiency engineers in the
country to-day began as an apprentice in a foundry, while another, fully
as well known in efficiency work, began life in the United States navy
as a machinist's mate. Automobile engineers, whose names, many of them,
are household words, in particular have gone big in the profession and
from very obscure beginnings. It is not stretching the obvious to say
that the majority of these men, had they entered upon any other work,
would never have been heard from nor have attained to their present
wealth and affluence. Smith was just one of many in a profession
offering liberal opportunities. The opportunities still exist and in
just as large a proportion as they ever existed. It remains but for the
young man to decide. The profession itself, almost, will take care of
him afterward.

However, not all of our engineers have gone upward by the overalls
route. Nor is it at all necessary to do this in order to attain to
success. The high-school graduate, entering a college of engineering,
has an equal chance. Some maintain that he has a better chance. Certain
it is that he is better qualified to cope with the heavier theoretical
problems which come up every day in the average engineer's work. There
is a place for him, side by side with the practical man, and his
knowledge will be everywhere respected and sought. But a combination of
the theoretical and the practical, as has frequently been declared,
makes for the complete engineer. Some get the practical side first and
the theoretical side later; some get the theoretical side first and the
practical side later. It matters little--save only that he who gets the
practical side first is earning his way while getting it, while the man
who goes to college is in the majority of cases being supported from
outside sources while getting what he wants. But in the end it balances.
Merely, the "full" engineer must have both. Having both, he has,
literally, the world within his grasp. For engineering is--to
repeat--the adapting of discoveries in science and art to the uses of
mankind. And both art and science reflect and are drawn from Mother

There is still a great scarcity of engineers. All branches feel the
need--civil, mechanical, mining, chemical, automotive, electrical--the
call goes out. It is a call just now, owing to the vast reconstruction
period confronting the world, lifted in strident voice. Engineers
everywhere are needed, which in part accounts for the liberal salaries
offered for experienced men. The demand greatly exceeds the supply, and
gives promise of exceeding it for a number of years to come. All
manufacturing-plants, all mining enterprises, of which of both there are
thousands upon thousands, utilize each from one to many hundreds of
engineers. Some plants make use of three or four different
kinds--mechanical, civil, electrical, industrial--some only one. But not
a plant of any size but that has need for at least one engineer, and
engineers are scarce. Therefore opportunities are ample.

To the young man seeking a profession, provided he be of a certain
type--possessed of certain inherent qualities, the nature of which I
shall set forth in the following chapter--engineering offers
satisfactory money returns and--more satisfactory still--a satisfactory
life. The work is creative from beginning to end; it has to do
frequently with movement--always a source of delight to mankind; a
source having its beginnings in earliest infancy, and it is essentially
a work of service. To build a bridge, to design an automatic machine, to
locate and bring to the surface earth's wealth in minerals--surely this
is service of a most gratifying kind.

And it pays. The arts rarely pay; science always pays. And engineering
being a science, a science in the pursuit of which also man is offered
opportunities for the exercise of his creative instincts, like art, is
therefore doubly gratifying as a life's work. I know--and it will bear
repeating--no other profession that holds so much of bigness and of
fullness of life generally. Engineers themselves reflect it. Usually
robust, always active, generally optimistic, engineers as a group swing
through life--and have swung through life from the beginnings of the
profession--without thought of publicity, for instance, or need or
desire for it. Their work alone engrossed their minds. It was enough--it
is enough--and more. And that which is sufficient unto a man is Nirvana
unto him--if he but knew it. Engineers seem to know it.



It is becoming more and more an accepted fact that engineers, or
physicians, or lawyers--like our poets--are born and not made. I believe
this to be true. Educators generally are thinking seriously along these
lines, with the result that vocational advisers are springing up,
especially in industrial circles, to establish eventually yet another
profession. Instinct leads young men to enter upon certain callings,
unless turned off by misguided parents or guardians, and as a general
thing the hunch works out successfully. Philosophers from time
immemorial, including Plato and Emerson, have written of this still,
small voice within, and have urged that it be heeded. The thing is
instinct--cumulative yearnings within man of thousands of his
ancestors--and to disobey it is to fling defiance at Nature herself.
Personally, I believe that when this law becomes more generally
understood there will be fewer failures decorating park benches in our
cities and cracker-boxes in our country stores.

The profession of engineering, therefore, has its type. You may be of
this type or you may not. The type is quite pronounced, however, and you
need not go wrong in your decision. All professions and all trades have
their types. Steel-workers--those fearless young men who balance
skilfully on a girder, frequently hundreds of feet in the air--are not
to be mistaken. Rough, rugged, gray-eyed; with frames close-knit and
usually squat; generous with money, and unconcerned as to the future;
living each day regardless of the next, and _living_ it--steel-workers
are as distinct from the clerical type--slender, tall, a bit
self-conscious, fearful of themselves and of the future--I say, the
steel-worker is as different from the clerical worker as the
circus-driver is from the cleric. Their work marks them for its own, if
a man lack it upon entering the work, just as the school-room marks the
teacher in time for its own. The thing is not to be mistaken.

The successful engineer must be possessed of a certain fondness for
figures. The subject of mathematics must interest him. He must like to
figure, to use a colloquialism, and his fondness for it must be
genuine, almost an absorption. It must reveal itself to him at an early
age, too, as early as his grammar-school days, for then it will be known
as genuinely a part of him, and the outcropping of seeds correctly sown
by his ancestors. Having this fondness for mathematics, which may be
termed otherwise as a curiosity to make concrete ends meet--the working
out of puzzles is one evidence of the gift--the young man is well armed
for a successful career in the profession. He will like mathematics for
its own sake, and when, later, in college, and later still, in the
active pursuit of his chosen work, he is confronted with a difficult
problem covering strains or stress in a beam or lever or connecting-rod,
he will attack it eagerly, instead of--as I have seen such problems
attacked more than once--irritably and with marked mental effort.

The successful engineer must be a man who likes to shape things with his
hands. He need not always do it, and probably will not after he has
attained to recognition, save only as he supervises or makes the
mechanical drawings--the picture--of the thing. But the itch must be
present in the man. And, like the desire within him to figure, it must
make itself manifest within him early in life. If a young man be of
those who early like to crawl in under the family buzz-wagon; tinker
there for half a day at a time; emerge in a thick coating of grease and
dust and with joy in his eye--such a young man has the necessary
qualifications for a successful engineer. He may never do this--as I
say--in all his engineering career. But the yearning must be as much a
part of him as his love for mathematics--so much so that all his
engineering days he will feel something akin to envy for the machinist
who works over a machine of the engineer's own devising--and it must be
vitally a part of him. To illustrate:

When only twelve years old the author, in company with several
playmates, decided one November day to build an ice-boat. From the
numerous building operations going on in the neighborhood, in the light
of the moon, he secured the necessary timbers, and from a neighbor's
back yard--also in the light of the moon--he got a young sapling which
served delightfully as a mainmast. With the needed materials all
gathered, it suddenly struck him that a plan of some kind ought to be
made of the proposed ice-boat, in order to guard against grave errors
in construction. To think was to act with this bright youngster. He got
him his mother's bread-board and a pencil and an ordinary school ruler,
and with these made a drawing of the ice-boat as he thought the boat
should be. Knowing nothing of mechanical drawing, and but very little of
construction of any kind, he nevertheless devised a pretty fair-looking
boat and not a bad working drawing. One of his playmates, whose father
was something or other in a manufacturing-plant, showed the drawing to
the family circle; with the result that the kid's father, laying a rule
upon the drawing, pronounced it an accurate mechanical drawing, drawn to
scale--which was one inch to the foot--and sent for the youthful
designer, meaning me.

"What do you know about mechanical drawings?" he asked the bashful
youngster, pointing to the drawing under discussion.

"I don't know nothing about it," replied the kid--meaning me again. "I
just made it with a ruler."

"But how come you made it to scale? That drawing is a complete plan and
elevation of an ice-boat, drawn accurately to scale." He looked
thoughtful. "I don't understand it. You ought to take up with drafting,
my boy, when you get a little older. I never knew of a case like it.
What does your father do?" he suddenly asked.

"He's an ice-dealer,"[1] replied the discomfited boy. "I just made
it--that's all. We need it, too, to go ahead." Turning to his playmate,
"Come on out, Jack; the gang is waiting."

Which terminated the interview.

Yet the thing was the beginning of a career for the boy. The boat in
time somehow got itself built and out upon the little river; but owing
to the fact that its materials were stolen, the river failed to freeze
over that winter, and for three winters following--not till the boat
itself had fallen apart from disuse and lack of care--which points its
own moral, as hinted at above. If you must build ice-boats, and you are
a kid with mechanical yearnings, pay for the material that goes into the
making of your product. But the thing--as I say--was the beginning of a
career for the lad. In time, through the kindly office of his playmate's
father, he became apprenticed in a drafting-room of a large
manufacturing-plant--and the rest was easy. In his first year, on paper,
he devised a steam-engine with novel arrangement of slide-valves, and
thereafter for years designed engines and machinery about the country,
always quite successfully.

The successful engineer, while possessed of certain spiritual
characteristics, must also--if I may be so bold as to say so--be
possessed of certain physical characteristics. One of these is large,
and what is known as capable, hands. Short, spatulate fingers, with a
broad palm, appear to be a feature of the successful engineer. Of
course, there are exceptions, as there are exceptions to every rule, but
in the majority of cases which have come under the writer's observation
the successful engineer has had hands of this shaping. He likewise has
had wrists and arms to match with such hands, and--in the practical
engineer--that is, the engineer whose particular gift is coping with
ordinary problems of construction, as against the genius who blazes new
trails, like Watt and Westinghouse and Edison and Marconi and the Wright
brothers--a head whose contour was along the "well-shaped" lines. The
so-called genius usually has an odd-shaped head, I've noticed, but for
purposes of this book we shall confine ourselves to the average
successful man in engineering.

Thus you have, roughly, the engineering type. I have sketched only the
major characteristics. The minor characteristics embrace many features.
There is patience, for one--patience to labor long with difficulties;
concentration, for another; application, for a third; certain student
qualities, for yet a fourth. Many graduate engineers have gone off into
other work immediately after leaving college because of a clearly
defined dislike for detail in construction. The average successful
engineer will be a man interested in the shaping of the details of his
machine or bridge or plant. To many, details are irksome. If the young
man who is reading this book knows that he dislikes a detail of any
character whatsoever, unless he be possessed of the creative genius of a
Westinghouse or an Edison, he would better take up with some other
profession. For engineering, in the last analysis, is the manipulating
of detailed parts into a perfect whole--whether it be a bridge or a
machine or a plant.


[1] The boy's father always wanted to be a carpenter.



The four major branches of engineering are civil, mechanical,
electrical, and mining. I give them in the order of their acceptance
among engineers. Each is separate from each of the others, and each is a
profession in itself, and as distinctive from each of the others as is
the allopathic from the homeopathic among men of medicine, though not
with quite the same distinction. Whereas the several groups of
physicians seek to relieve pain and correct disorder by way of
diversified channels, the several groups of engineers each work in a
field of endeavor actively apart from each of the other groups.
Sometimes one group will lap over upon another group, in certain kinds
of construction work, but even then the branches will hold sharply each
to its own.

Civil engineering embraces, roughly, all work in the soil. The surveyor
is a civil engineer. He constructs dams, builds viaducts, lays out
railroads, and in the war, where he was known as a pioneer, he was
responsible for all tunneling and trench projects, besides keeping the
highways clear and the wire entanglements intact. Civil engineering is a
profession which keeps its followers pretty well out in the open. A
civil engineer will go long distances, and frequently must, in order to
get to his work, and, having reached the scene of his labors, enters
upon a rugged outdoor life in camp where he remains until the job is
completed. The Panama Canal was a civil-engineering job--probably the
largest of its kind ever undertaken--and its success, after failure on
the part of another government, is a high tribute to the genius of our
own civil engineers.

Mechanical engineering is a profession whose medium of endeavor lies in
the metals. Mechanical engineers shape things out of iron or steel or
brass or other metal compositions, and put these things into engines or
machines for service. All machinery, whether it be printing-presses or
automobiles or steam-engines, is the work of mechanical engineers,
though in the matter of automobiles this has become a profession by
itself, one of the minor branches known as automotive engineering. The
mechanical engineer as a rule works within doors, just as the civil
engineer works out of doors, and his work, consequently, is more
confining. In the pursuit of his profession he spends much of his time
supervising the design of mechanical units, and is the one man
responsible for correct construction and security against fracture of
the machine itself when in operation. Actually the mechanical engineer
has more opportunities in his daily routine for the exercise of his
creative faculties than has any one of the other kinds of engineers, for
the simple reason that no two machines even for the same
purpose--speaking of types, always--are exactly similar in construction.
Two lathes of like size and scope, if manufactured by two separate
organizations, will be different in their minor features, and each in
some particular will be the work of a mechanical engineer whose ideas
are at variance with those of the mechanical engineer who designed the
other type. Engineers, like doctors, often disagree, which accounts for
the many different types of machinery serving the same purpose which are
found on the market.

Electrical engineering is, as its name implies, a profession embracing
all construction whose basis is the electrical current. Any unit
whatsoever, so long as it utilizes or eats up or carries forward a
current of electricity, is the work of electrical engineers. The
profession is a comparatively recent one perforce, owing to the fact
that but very little of a practical nature was known about electricity
until a very few years ago. The wonderful progress in this field made
within the past twenty years is one of the marvels of the engineering
profession. Dynamos, motors, arc-lights, alternating current, the
X-ray--these are a few of the things which followers of the profession
have created for the uses of mankind. The field is yet practically
unexplored, and offers to engineering students an outlet for their
energies--provided they enter this branch of engineering--second to none
of the other branches. A fascinating study, doubly so because of the
fact that nothing is known about electricity itself--its effects only
being understood--electrical engineering should appeal to the
curious-minded as no other vocation can. It is a profession shrouded in
mystery, and not the least mysterious of its recent developments is the
wireless telegraph. What this one development alone holds for the future
nobody can say. All sorts of inventions can be imagined, however, and
among them I myself seem to see automobiles operated from central
stations--indeed, all mechanical movements so operated--to the end that
individual engines in time will cease to be.

The profession of mining engineering, last of the major branches,
embraces all work having to do with the locating and construction of
mines--coal-mines, iron-mines, copper-mines, diamond-mines, gold-mines,
and the like. Also it establishes the nature of the apparatus used,
though more often than otherwise the mechanical engineer in this regard
is consulted, since much of the machinery utilized in mining operations
is the direct work of mechanical engineers. Screens and hoppers are
mechanical devices the result of mechanical engineering genius; but the
work of shoring up, done with timbers, and the work generally of
supervision of all mine operations, rests solely with the mining man.
The shaping of these timbers, though--the cutting of tenons, for
instance--is the work, again, of the mechanical engineer; though the
placing of these timbers, to revert back once more, is the work of the
mining engineer.

There are many minor branches, and more are rapidly coming into
prominence. Chemical engineering is one of the older minor branches;
while industrial engineering--following closely upon automotive
engineering--belongs properly with the more recent of the newcomers.
Efficiency engineering is a branch which to-day is making a strong bid
for recognition as a profession, although the work as yet, lacking, as
it does, proper foundation in scientific truth, even though strongly
humanitarian in its motives, has still to prove itself acceptable among
the engineering groups. Structural engineering, on the contrary,
"belongs." Its work consists of the design and layout of modern steel
structures--this roughly--while the minor branch known as heating and
ventilating engineering, as its name would indicate, deals with the
proper heating and ventilating of buildings, and as a profession is
closely allied with that of structural engineering. Out of these minor
branches come yet other branches, more particularly groups, with each in
the nature of a specialty, such as gas engineering, aircraft
engineering, steam engineering, telephone engineering, and so on.

Students about to enter engineering colleges usually select one or
another of the major branches and then after graduating begin to
specialize. But infrequently Fate has much to do with this
specialization, since after leaving college the average young engineer
will turn to the nearest or most promising vacancy offered him in his
chosen field--a major branch--and in the work eventually become expert
and a specialist. If it be a concern manufacturing steam-turbines, say,
the young engineer in time becomes expert and a specialist in
steam-turbines. So, too, with graduates in mining engineering, in
electrical engineering, in civil engineering, although the opportunities
for specialization in any of these latter branches are not so good as in
the mechanical field. However, entering upon a certain kind of work, the
student usually follows this work to the end of his days, which is
probably what engineering schools expect. All strive to educate only in
the principles of each of the major branches. The rest is up to the
graduate, who is permitted, and generally does, the shaping of his own
career afterward.

It is a feature of our democratic form of government--thanks be! Germany
does--or did--the other thing. Germany made careers for her young men,
instead of young men for careers, with the result that she also made
machines out of them. America is a nation of individualists, which is
what makes America what it is, and our schools and school systems are



About to make a choice among the branches of engineering, the
prospective student, unless he have a decided preference to start with,
finds himself confronted with many difficulties. Engineering is
engineering, whether it be mining or electrical or civil or mechanical,
and this fact alone is not without its confusions. Yet if the young man
decides for a mining career, say, the choice may take him, after
graduating, off to South Africa, whereas if his choice lay in the
electrical field he may never get any farther from home than the nearest
electrical manufacturing plant in his town or state--and remain there
for the duration of his life. This making of a choice is a momentous
thing in a prospective engineer's life. It should be approached with all
caution, and with due regard for the nature of the life he would lead
after graduating from school. If he have a penchant for outdoor life,
then the choice, in a way, is easy. He should select mining or civil
engineering as his particular vocation. If he be of those who prefer to
remain more or less indoors in the practice of his profession,
mechanical or electrical engineering should be his choice.

These are the major advantages or disadvantages, depending upon the
point of view. The minor ones are not so easily stated. Speaking always
for the young man without a decided preference, it is the writer's
opinion that the prospective student should analyze his particular
feelings in the matter and decide accordingly. Large projects may
interest him more than smaller ones. In this regard, he will
find greater satisfaction in following the profession dealing
with large projects, which is, of course, the civil engineering
profession--although mining, too, has its large ventures, which,
however, do not "break" as frequently as they do in civil engineering.
On the other hand, the young man may find himself attracted to the
development of small propositions, such as adding-machines and
typewriters and sewing-machines, and the like. Finding himself attracted
to these no less important phases of engineering than the development of
mines or the opening up of new country, the young man can, of course,
make no better choice than to enter the mechanical or the electrical

It all depends upon the point of view. Nor is there any hard-and-fast
rule tying a man down to a single branch once he finds that he does not
like it, or finds that he likes one of the other branches better, after
he has given his chosen branch a trial in the years immediately
following graduation. Not a few mining graduates drift over into
straight civil work after leaving school, and, likewise, not a few in
the electrical branches find themselves in time pursuing mechanical
work. Fate here, as in the matter of specialization, works her hand. A
prominent publisher of technical magazines in New York took the degree
of Arts in Cornell in his younger days; and more writers of fiction than
you can shake a stick at once labored over civil-engineering plans as
their chosen career. Herbert Hoover is a mining man who best revealed
his capabilities in the field of traffic management--if the work which
he supervised in Belgium may be so termed. Certainly it had to do with
getting materials from where they were plentiful to where they were
scarce, which is roughly the work of the traffic manager.

And so it goes. The young man in this particular must decide for
himself. Actually, there is more of mystery and fascination in the
electrical field than in any of the other three branches, and to
prospective students this may be not without its especial appeal. To
others, the work of mining may possess its strong attraction, since this
work takes its followers into strange places and among strange people
frequently, where oftentimes the mining engineer must live cheek by
elbow with the roughest of adventurers. To yet a third group, civil
engineering, with its work of blazing new trails through an unknown
country, and wild outdoor existence through forests and over mountains
and across valleys--may have its strong attraction. While to a fourth
group of prospective students the quiet career, as represented in that
of mechanical engineering, always a more or less thoughtful, studious
life, may hold out its inviting side. The mechanical engineer, like the
electrical engineer, is a man who generally commutes, a man who comes
and goes daily between office and home, doing his work at regular hours
within the four walls of his office--a quiet, professional man. Such a
life would appeal to the man of family rather more strongly than either
of the outdoor professional branches. Yet the prospective student must
make his own choice.

To the young man who has no particular preference, and who would put it
up to the writer as to just which branch to follow--the young man more
or less in need--the writer unhesitatingly would advise mechanical
engineering. It is the one branch offering the largest and quickest
returns, and as a branch it fairly dominates all the other branches, for
the reason that whereas the mechanical engineer can get along without
the mining engineer or the civil engineer or the electrical engineer,
neither the mining engineer nor the civil engineer nor the electrical
engineer can always do without the services of the mechanical engineer.
No other branch so overlaps the other branches as does mechanical
engineering. The work of the mechanical engineer is seen in almost every
piece of construction reared by the civil man, just as it is seen in
every bit of construction work of the mining and the electrical
engineers. At first glance this may not appear to be true, but a close
analysis of different jobs will bring out the truth of this statement.

Thus mechanical engineering offers largest and quickest returns. It does
this for another reason. Because of this very overlapping upon the
other three branches, for every position open in the electrical field,
or the mining or the civil field, there are a dozen vacancies in the
mechanical field. It cannot but be otherwise. Not one of the other
branches but what has need at times for--as I have stated--a mechanical
engineer. The casings and base-plates and supports of motors, for
instance, while the motor itself--its windings and the like--is the work
of the electrical engineer, are due to the designing genius of some
mechanical man. Likewise, in the mining field, where shaking screens, to
name only one of the many mechanical units necessary in mining
operations, are an essential factor--units operated with pulleys and
belts and cams and levers--all the province of the mechanical
engineer--the mechanical man finds his uses. So in civil work,
especially in dam construction where gates are necessary; and in
chemical engineering--to drop into a minor branch--where tanks and vats
and ovens and stirring paddles and the like are used. No matter in which
branch a man may go, always he will find evidence of the presence some
time of the mechanical engineer. The mechanical engineer dominates all
the other branches, as has been said before. He is given second place
in the order of the branches merely because the civil engineer happened
to be the first and oldest kind of engineer to be given recognition as a
profession. This man made himself a professional man, just as did the
early practitioners of medicine--concocters of herbs in the beginning.

The proper selection will depend upon the young man's predilections and
tastes. If he selects wisely, following out his predilections and tastes
with a degree of accuracy, he cannot go wrong. He cannot go far wrong
even if he doesn't follow out his hunches, for the reason that he can
always swing over into any one of the other branches whenever he sees
fit to do so. The thing is done every day, and will continue to be done
throughout all time. Merely, it would be well for the young man, of
course, to select in the beginning that branch which most appeals to
him, and to stick to it like glue. Success is certain to be his. For in
no other walk of life are the rewards so sure and so ample and so
immediately responsive as in the engineering professions. These--like
the matter of his selection from among the four major branches--are
solely a matter up to the individual.



Immediately upon graduating--indeed, often several months before
graduating--the engineering student finds his first job awaiting him.
Frequently he finds a number of first jobs awaiting him and must make a
selection. For it is the custom with large manufacturing concerns to
send out scouts in the early spring of each year to address the
engineering student bodies, with the idea in mind of securing the
services of as many graduates as the scouts can win over for their
respective organizations through direct appeal. What is usually offered
the coming graduate is a brief apprenticeship in the shop, at a living
wage, with promise of as early and rapid promotion in the organization
as the work of the apprentice himself will permit, or improves.

These offers are generally splendid opportunities. The graduate may
learn much of a practical commercial nature which perforce has been
denied him in his student days, and also, having entered upon this
apprenticeship, he not only gets acquainted with production on a large
scale, but he is brought into touch with what constitutes most recent
acceptable practice as well. This, provided he be a mechanical or an
electrical engineer. Graduates in civil and mining engineering, while
offered positions from executives in these particular branches also,
have no such large opportunities offered them. The work itself does not
permit it. Yet in any of the branches there is never a scarcity of jobs
open to graduates upon their leaving college.

To qualify for promotion in any work, but more especially in the
professions, one must know one's business. That is a trite statement,
but it will bear repeating. The young graduate at first will not know
his business. His mind will be a chaos of theories based upon myriads of
formulæ which cannot but confuse him in the early days, when he is most
earnestly trying to apply one or more of them to the more or less petty
tasks which will be assigned to him. All he can do under the
circumstances--all anybody could do under the circumstances--is to wait
patiently, the while doing the best he can. Problems have a way of
working themselves out--the correct formula will present itself; its
true application will become manifest--and thus the young engineer has
learned something of a practical nature which need not forsake him
throughout the remainder of his engineering career.

Engineers are especially tolerant of one another's mistakes and errors.
They are much more so than medical men, for instance. In the field of
medicine one must show by many practical cases wherein a certain
treatment has proved effective before the fraternity at large will even
give the practitioner a hearing. This is not so among engineers.
Engineers turn to one another in difficulties with earnest desire to
help if they can help; and when one of their number is in trouble in his
efforts to solve a difficult problem the whole body will turn to him
with friendly encouragement and advice, if the latter is wanted. The
young graduate who is struggling with a problem come up in his daily
work, if he will but make the fact known to the engineers on the job in
association with him, will find himself surrounded by engineers every
one of whom will be seriously concerned for him and anxious to render

So the young graduate need entertain no fears on the ground of possible
errors when starting out. Merely he must go slow; take his own good
time on a job; ask all the questions possible of his engineer neighbors.
Frankness in engineering, as in any other walk of life, pays. The
bluffer is not wanted. No man knows it all, and certainly no engineer
knows all there is to know about his profession. Time was when this
might have been true; but it isn't true to-day. The work of engineering
research and development has become so complex that engineers are forced
to specialize. The engineering graduate, entering upon his first job,
will discover early that he, too, must specialize. This will not be
difficult, owing to the fact that his engineering education has been
general and designed to embrace in a liberal way all practice. Drawing,
as he will, from this liberal source that which he finds necessary in
the solving of his initial problems, he will find himself within a short
time becoming, willy-nilly, a specialist.

In the earlier years there should be considerable study done after hours
on the part of the graduate engineer. Because his education has been
general in the field, and he now holds a position with a company
manufacturing steam-turbines, say, he must "wise up," as the saying
goes, on the subject of steam-turbines. It will do him no harm to trace
back to its source all progress made in the field of turbine engineering
and construction. He will find no scarcity of books on the subject, and
with every hour spent with these volumes he will become more valuable to
the organization employing him. Likewise, if he find himself working for
an electrical manufacturing concern, and himself a graduate in
electrical engineering, if the product be only a single line, and so
small a thing as spark-plugs, it will profit him greatly to read
whatever has been printed on the subject of spark-plugs. So with the
mining graduate in the matter of the different processes of recovering
minerals; so with the civil graduate, especially in the concrete field
of construction, which has made rapid strides in the past few years--the
graduate should absorb as much as he can of the available works printed
on the subject. Indeed, this is the profession of it, in that the
practitioner must ever be alive and alert to what is being done and has
been done from the beginning in his chosen line of endeavor.

Next must come fealty. The graduate on his first job must believe--and
if he does not believe ought to change connections--that the product of
his company is the best in the market. This need not necessarily be
true; but he must feel that it is true. For only in this way can he put
the best that is in him into his work. Industry--and the engineer is the
backbone of industry--is a hotbed of competition. Any organization needs
all the enthusiasm it can get. Greatest enthusiasm of all must come from
within its own circles. Lacking this enthusiasm within its own family,
the organization as a whole suffers. The graduate must first of all
supply enthusiasm to the source of his employment, because at first he
can supply but very little else. He must be true to his trust in ways
other than the mere doing of what he is told or producing what he is
expected to produce. This attitude cannot but help him qualify for
promotion, and rapidly. It is a very important factor in any engineer's

Then there is the matter of patience. The writer knows of no other
qualification more fruitful of reward than patience. The word control is
frequently used in this regard--self-control. Its other name, however,
is patience--the thing that gives a man to try and try again until he
succeeds. Engineering is a difficult profession, though not more
difficult than other professions, and in the average engineer's
working-day many things occur which, if he be not possessed of infinite
patience, will serve to try him to a considerable degree. Patience with
those below him--patience with those above him--patience with
himself--these are all necessary and will prove helpful to him in
reaching the top. He must accept the petty tasks with a cheerfulness no
less apparent than he accepts the more important ones. He must present
his own ideas to his superiors with a degree of caution which, where the
ideas are rejected, will yet permit him to withdraw within himself
without giving the impression of being peeved. For engineering is above
all other things the interchange of ideas among men having an equal
training but a vastly different quality of experience. Men of diverse
experience thus drawn together make for a balanced engineering staff,
and a balanced engineering staff makes for a well-organized whole. The
young engineer must conduct himself in such a way that his superiors
will like him for what he is, as indicated by his personality, rather
than for what he knows or does in his daily work.

To sum up, then, the young engineer, having entered upon his first job,
must do three or four things in order quickly to qualify for promotion.
He first of all must spend time in study after his day's work is
done--absorb all information having to do with the company's own
product; hold himself ever alert to the company's own methods of
production; watch for an opportunity whereby this production may be
improved upon or the methods of production themselves improved upon. The
young engineer must proceed slowly in everything he undertakes; when
brought to a halt through difficulties he should instantly appeal to one
or another of his associates or superiors; he must be absolutely frank
in all his dealings with these associates and superiors. In this regard,
also, it might be said that the young graduate, following a habit become
almost second nature with him in his school-days, must keep a note-book
covering his activities throughout each working-day, a book wherein he
will jot down everything of value to him which comes up in the day's
work. Such books often form the basis of complete text-books in after
years, and, indeed, are acknowledged to be the foundation of more than
one recognized authority. Though in this regard, further, such a
practice is sometimes discouraged in some organizations, since it is
apparent that these note-books often contain facts which the
organization does not wish to have made public, being, as these notes
often are, in the nature of trade secrets. However, the student with a
conscience will effectively guard the secrets of his employer as
contained in his note-book, holding its contents for his own use in
furthering the interests of the company which employs him.

And finally--in the matter of personality--patience and regard for the
foibles of others will go far toward advancing the young engineer toward
success. He must never forget in his earlier years that he is embryonic
in the profession; that the profession is a difficult one and with many
ramifications; that if he was able to live through three normal lives he
would yet know only a very little of what there is to know about his
chosen work. Thus he will conduct himself in a manner designed to win
the interest and affection of men who are superior to him. Life to-day
consists more than ever of service, and no man can go the path alone.
Service--assistance one to another--makes up the sum total of life. No
engineering graduate--no young man in any walk of life--can progress far
without assistance, however brilliant as a student and capable as a man
he may be. If he will but bear this last in mind--this and the other
even more important truth, that as a man gives so shall he
receive--that a dollar spent in charity means two dollars in the bank--I
mean that exactly--then the heights themselves will beckon to him at an
early age.

"Early to bed and early to rise"; "take care of the pennies and the
dollars will take care of themselves"; "a bird in the hand is worth two
in the bush"--we don't need--the engineering graduate does not
need--that form of admonition. It means nothing and is false. What alone
counts for success is a considerable regard for the rights and
privileges of others, the unfortunate as well as the fortunate. Greed
never brought success that was lasting to any one, and certainly it
breeds unhappiness. Engineering is a work of service--service to
others--and to the graduate who "gets" this truism will come all things
of this life, not the least of which will be material rewards.



The consulting engineer represents the pinnacle, as it were, of
professional success. The inventor is something else--a wilding in the
profession--and as such cannot be considered in a paper of this kind,
save only as to say that he is the presiding genius among engineers, the
Shakespeare or Milton among his kind, a man whose path to the heights is
nowhere known of men. The consulting engineer, on the contrary,
representing, as he does, the zenith of slowly attained power in some
certain branch of engineering, a vantage--point open freely to all, is
the embodiment of the goal toward which all graduates should strive. The
consulting engineer has perfected himself in his chosen field; he has
become an authority in his branch of engineering; his word is accepted
as final in court and privy council. Having gained to this enviable
position only after prolonged study and protracted and wide experience
in his particular specialty, the consulting engineer has well earned
whatever accrues to him in the way, among other things, of generous fees
for his services.

Still, there are consulting engineers who have become so through
accident. The writer personally knows a consulting engineer who was
following a general engineering practice when called upon one day to
advise a group of capitalists in the matter of a garbage-disposal plant
of new design for a large mid-Western city. His services were sought not
because he was a garbage expert, but rather because he was expert in
intricate pipe layouts and the like. However, once he got his hand into
garbage disposition on a large scale, he remained in this branch of
engineering, eventually traveling about the country supervising the
design of similar plants whose object was the economical disposal of
municipal refuse. Practically alone in the field, his writings soon
became accepted as authoritative, and yet the whole thing began with
that first call, quite by chance, in a matter foreign to the subject.
Like other professional men, engineers never know when the heavens will
open for their particular benefit.

Yet these cases are rare. The average consulting engineer is a man who
has won to pre-eminence only through protracted study and hard work in
one line. He is a specialist with a high reputation for accuracy and
skill in that line. The basis of this skill, of course, lies in a broad
general engineering experience, upon which is built a peculiar knowledge
of a certain, and not infrequently isolated, branch of engineering.
Heating and ventilating engineers are but specialists grown to such
large numbers as to form a definite branch of engineering. Likewise,
automotive engineers are men who have specialized through long years in
this branch. The man who knows more about building dredges, say, than
any other man among his engineering brothers is a man who will be most
frequently sought by industrial powers feeling the need for a dredge,
just as a man suffering eye-strain will seek out the best specialist
known to the medical fraternity. He goes to the one acknowledged
authority in this line, and in doing so but follows a sane inner

And that is consulting work. The individual of money who would launch
into manufacturing, knowing nothing of manufacturing, will, after
deciding as to which branch of manufacturing he wishes to follow,
enlist the services of a consulting engineer big by reputation in this
branch. The capitalist may wish to enter the paper-manufacturing field.
Straightway he will put himself in touch with a consulting engineer
whose specialty is paper-manufacturing plants, and, having informed this
man as to the amount of money he is willing to spend on the venture,
together with the location where he wishes, within certain prescribed
limitations, to have his plant stand, may withdraw from the thing, if he
choose, until the plant is built and in operation. The consulting
engineer has done the rest. He has gone out upon location, seeking sites
with an eye to economy both of power and transportation; he has
supervised the design of the plant and the location in the plant of the
necessary machinery; has enlisted the service of a builder whose task it
is to follow these plans from foundation to roof in the work of actual
construction. For this work the consulting engineer receives a fee,
usually based upon a percentage of the cost, and then turns to other
clients--waiting in his outer office--who would enlist his services in a
similar capacity.

The consulting engineer has other sources of revenue. Like the lawyer,
he is frequently retained by traction and lighting interests to guard
the rights of these interests, service for which he receives payment by
the year. His testimony is valued in matters of litigation, sometimes
patent infringements, sometimes municipal warfare between corporations,
but always of a highly specialized nature. He is an authority, and when
I have said that I have said all. His retainer fees are large; his work
is exact; he is a man looked up to by those in the profession following
a general practice. He has his office, and retains a staff of engineers,
usually young engineers just out of college, who, like himself at one
time, are on their way upward in the game. He is rarely a young man;
generally is a man of wide reading; is a man respected in his community
not for what he knows as an engineer, but for the standard of living
which he is able to set by virtue of his income. Besides the sources of
revenue which are his, and as I have set forth above, he is sought by
technical editors to contribute to magazines powerful in his field, and
this is a pleasurable source of income to any man in any walk of life.
The consulting engineer is a man to be admired and emulated by all
engineering students.

As to the time in life when an engineer feels qualified to enter upon
consulting work, that is something which must come to him from within.
Usually the engineer knows that he has become a factor in his chosen
branch or specialty when he finds himself becoming more and more sought
in an advisory capacity among his fellows. He can judge that he has
become an authority in his work by the simple process of comparing
himself and his work with others and the work of these others in the
field. If he finds that he is designing a better plant or automatic
machine, or more economically operated mine or more serviceable lighting
station than his neighbor, and, together with this knowledge, perceives
also that capitalists are beating a deeper path to his door than to the
doors of his competitors--to warp an Emersonian phrase--then the
handwriting on the wall should be clear to him--to quote the Bible.
Having sufficient capital to carry him through a year or two of personal
venturing in the consulting field, he will open an office and insert his
professional card in the journals in his field--and fly to it. If he be
a man of righteous parts, he will succeed as a consulting engineer--and
can go no higher in the profession.

The game is certainly worth the candle.



Much has been written of late of the engineer as a citizen--of his civic
responsibilities, of his relation to legislation, to administration, to
public opinion, and the like. It is timely writing. The engineer is
about due for active participation in civic affairs other than a yearly
visit to the polls to register his vote. He has not done much more than
this since his inception. His work alone has sufficed, for him, at
least, though the time is past when he can bury himself in his
professional work and, in the vernacular, get away with it. Men of the
stamp of Herbert Hoover have demonstrated the very great need for men of
scientific training in public affairs. Such places heretofore have been
filled with business men and lawyers. These men served and served well.
But since administration of public affairs to-day is largely a matter of
formulation and execution of engineering projects, it is assuredly the
duty of engineers to take an active part in these public affairs.

Exact knowledge, which in a manner of speaking is synonymous with the
engineer, is needed in high places in our nation. Men of technical
education and training have demonstrated their fitness as servants of
the people in the few instances where such men have taken over the reins
of administration in certain specified branches of our government.
Trained to think in terms of figures and the relation of these figures
to life, engineers readily perceive the true and the untrue in matters
of legislation and administration, though as a body they have never
exerted themselves to an expression of their opinions on matters coming
properly under the head of public opinion. Engineers have felt that they
have not had the time. Or, having the time, that the public at large,
chiefly owing to the engineer's self-imposed isolation, would not
understand a voice from this direction, and so engineers have kept
silent. The day has arrived, however, when this silence on the part of
engineers must be broken.

The World War has been an awakening in this as in other directions.
Lawyers and politicians have successfully dominated our government from
its beginning, with a single beautiful exception in George Washington at
one end and another admirable exception in Woodrow Wilson at the other.
Washington was a civil engineer, and Wilson, while trained as a lawyer,
was an educator. In between these two men there may have fallen a
scattering of others who were not lawyers or politicians; the writer is
not sure. Of one thing he is sure, however, and that is that engineers
in the future will dominate politics to the betterment of the nation as
a whole. For engineers are idealists--otherwise they would never have
entered upon an engineering career--and idealism has come, as it were,
into its own again. The man of vision of a wholesome aspect, the man who
can so completely forget himself in his work of service as to engage in
tasks whose merits nobody save himself and those pursuing like tasks can
or will understand--which is pre-eminently the engineer--is the one man
best fitted to administrate in public affairs. More important still than
this statement is the fact that the world at large is beginning to
realize the truth of it. Engineers as a body stand poised upon the rim
of big things. Nor will they as a body stoop to the petty in politics,
once they are fairly well launched in active participation of civic
affairs. Neither their training nor their outlook, based upon their
training, will permit it. For engineers, more than any other group of
professional men, are given to "see true." And seeing true, being, as it
is, the essence of a full life, is what is needed in our public

Engineers in the past who have become more or less prominent in the
public eye--and there are some who have--have demonstrated their ability
to see things as they are. Westinghouse was the first man in this
country to foresee the coming of the half-holiday Saturday as an
innovation that promised general adoption. He granted it to all his
employees at a time when lesser industrial captains believed him to be
at least "queer." Ford set the pace for a minimum rate of five dollars a
day in his plant, and lesser captains still frown upon him for having
perpetrated this "evil." Edison, among other things, has told of the
importance of loose clothing--loose shoes and collars and hats--to a man
who would enjoy good health. The list is not long, but the insight of
those who form this short list cannot but be recognized. What these men
have said and done concerning matters freely apart from the subject of
engineering reveals them as members of a fraternity well qualified to
lead public opinion rather than to follow it, as has been the province
of engineers in the past. Each when he has spoken or entered upon action
having the public welfare in mind has pronounced or demonstrated a truth
which fairly crackled with sanity.

Engineers belong in civic affairs. The world of humanity needs men of
their stamp in high places. Humanity needs men in control of state and
national affairs who would hold the interests of humanity sacred.
Engineers are such men. Not that engineers more than any other
professional men are sprouting wings--not that. But engineers do see
things in their true light--cannot see them in any other light than the
one imposed by the law of mathematics, which is that two and two make
four, never five or three--and this involuntarily would admit of
decisions and grant graces from the point of view of absolute truth,
which is, of course, the point of view of humanity--the greatest good
for the greatest number. With such men occupying high places in the
nation's affairs, the world of men and mankind would leap forward
ethically and spiritually at a pace in keeping with the pace at which
civilization has progressed under the impetus of engineering thought
since the days of Watt. Nobody can deny _that_ progress. Nobody could
well deny the fact that ethical progress under engineering guidance
would be equally great.

I hold a brief for engineers, of course. Engineering has been my major
work for twenty years and more. It has been my privilege to associate
intimately with two men--yea, three--possessed of great engineering
ability. The third man failed of great repute, owing chiefly to his
advanced--rather too much advanced--visionings. He wanted to talk across
the ocean by telephone at a time when the cable interests successfully
prevented him from commercializing his apparatus. And he died a
disappointed inventor. But he had the stuff in him, the thing that makes
for human greatness, just as had the other and more successful two men
with whom I as a designer was privileged to work. All were men of kindly
spirit, of broad outlook, of unselfish devotion to worldly interests.
Each was a humanitarian. Each saw things as they are, and each saw
things as they should be, and each thought much on problems of human
welfare and betterment. Of such men in civic affairs the nation, and
indeed the entire world of nations, has had but a sad too few in the
past. It is to be hoped, and it is the belief of the writer, that
engineers will become more plentiful in civic life in the future.

I have always believed that the man who reached an advanced age without
a sizable bank-account is a fact which would well serve as a definition
as to what constitutes an idealist. There are many such men--meaning, of
course, men having a level set of brains, and not mental incompetents.
Such men are inclined to things other than the accumulation of
bank-accounts. They strive toward goals which to them are more worth
while--self-improvement, for instance, spiritual growth being a better
term. Of such men were the world's acknowledged saviors. A man who can
wilfully thrust oars against the current of a stream flowing
currency-wise, in such a way as to force himself into a back eddy or
pool more or less stagnant, is a man pronouncedly great among men. The
world is loath to recognize such a man for what he is; yet such men have
lived and still live and will continue to live, always more for others
than for themselves--seeing life in the true, in other and more gracious

Engineers, in the abstract, are such men. The accumulation of money is
secondary with them. Their work holds first place in importance.
Possessed of that professional pride which will not permit a man to set
aside his work and enter a more lucrative and materially satisfactory
field of endeavor--if he starve in his obstinacy--engineers are men of
the temperament, aside from the training, to minister to public needs
and desires. Self-effacement is the engineer's chief characteristic. He
views largely and without bias. He can see things from the other
fellow's angle because he is not an engineer if he has not the gift of
imagination. The successful engineer has this most precious of
endowments, and, having it, cannot but be possessed also of kindliness
and sympathy, which are imagination's own brothers. Kindliness and
sympathy are needed in the high places of our government for the people
by the people. And because men in time gravitate to their rightful
sphere of usefulness through the workings of an all-wise Providence,
engineers already have turned and are turning toward the administration
of public affairs.



All engineering societies have a code of ethics for the guidance of
their membership bodies. In each case it is a code based upon other and
older codes, codes long in practice among professional men, such as
lawyers and doctors. It is a code built up on Christian principles, as
it should be, and rarely is it ignored among men of the profession. To
do unto others as you would have others do unto you is the basis of its
precepts, though more concretely it aims to guide the engineer in his
business intercourse with other men in such a way as to give all an
equal chance without transgressing the law. The so-called building codes
in effect in large cities are intended to hold engineers to restrictions
for the greatest good of the greatest number, and the code of ethics in
practice among each of the engineering professions likewise was devised
toward this end. There seems to be need for it.

Perhaps by pointing out where engineers sometimes transgress, the
writer more effectively can indicate the need of a code and the
principles of which the engineering code of ethics consists. Even to-day
there are engineers digressing from the path indicated by the
professional body, though in such a way as to benefit still by the
protection of the law, and to be not openly susceptible to admonition
from the engineering societies' committees. Engineers of this stamp at
best are but tricksters. Actually, they should be debarred from
practice, just as the legal fraternity takes effective action against
members of the bar who go outside the pale, though nothing is ever done
to engineers. Engineering organizations in this regard are weak. The
man's name should at least be posted, or, better still, published in the
society's bulletin, so that the fraternity at large could know, and,
knowing, could warn men with capital to invest--the trickster's especial
prey--for its own welfare.

There was an engineer brought to the attention of the writer whose
activities were devoted to securing for his clients men of no mechanical
knowledge who yet wanted something done by machinery. A manufacturer of
paper dolls, say, having entered upon this phase of manufacturing only
because he had money to invest and not because he was interested in
mechanics, would see the need in his plant for additional mechanical
devices to cut down manufacturing costs. The engineer to whom I have
reference would find this type of manufacturer his particular "meat,"
because of the man's ignorance of mechanics, and, after clinching him
with a contract drawn up by the engineer's lawyer, would undertake to
devise for this manufacturer a perpetual-motion machine, if that
happened to be what the manufacturer wanted. The engineer conducted a
machine-shop in connection with his "consulting" office, where, at a
dollar an hour for the use of his machine-tools, he would "develop" his
ideas, as passed upon by the manufacturer who knew no more of
construction or the reading of mechanical drawings than he did of the
chicanery of the engineer, and in this way roll up the costs against the
unfortunate. In the end the engineer might and might not produce a
satisfactory working machine. There was nothing in the contract about
this--save only as it protected the engineer. What was indeed produced
was a list of costs for the development often of several designs of a
given idea that to say the least were heartrending.

Then there is the engineer who for a consideration will bear false
testimony against his neighbor, or his neighbor's ox. This happens most
frequently in municipal traction or lighting wars, set before tribunals
under the caption of "The People _vs._ the S. S. Street Railway
Company," or in a battle of alleged infringement of patent rights. There
are engineering experts, just as there are legal experts, who deem it
within their code of ethics to address themselves and their energies
toward the refutation of such claims, however wrong or right these
claims may be. Engineering is an exact science. It is based on
principles hardly refutable. Yet there are engineers who will and can
confound these principles before a court of law in such manner as to win
for their clients a decision of non-suit where the facts point glaringly
to infringement--in the matter of mechanics--or to win for their clients
a favorable decision in the matter of costs of maintenance and operation
of a railway, in a case of this kind. As has been said, figures don't
lie, but figurers sometimes do.

Other instances of breach of engineering ethics, however otherwise
secure from the clutches of the law, occur to the writer, but the two
just cited ought to serve. At best, the topic is unpleasant and by no
means indicates the character of the profession as a whole. Where there
is one engineer who will perjure himself in the fashion as set forth
above there are many thousands of engineers who could not be bought for
this purpose at any amount of money. The profession of engineering is
notably clean; its code of ethics rigidly adhered to; the rights of
others, both in and out of the profession, regarded with something akin
to sacredness. Engineers, as a body, for instance, possess a peculiarly
rigid idea concerning themselves in relation to branches of the
profession outside their own and yet intimately close to their own.
Called in as an expert in the matter of heating and lighting a building,
say, the heating and lighting engineer will rigidly confine himself to
this phase of the engineering venture and to no other, however he may
find his work again and again overlapping the work of the structural
engineer or the industrial engineer--phases concerning which he may
possess important knowledge. He regards these things as strictly none of
his business, and in doing so conserves the esteem and friendship of his

The code of ethics is a liberal one among the engineering groups. It has
been laid down with an eye to fairness both for the practitioner and
the client. Rigidly held to, it will admit of no engineer going far
wrong in the practice of his profession, and, broken, will not land him
in jail. It is presupposed that engineers are men of intelligence. A man
of intelligence will hold himself to the spirit of the Ten Commandments
if he would attain to success, and to the letter of them if he would be
happy during the declining days of his life. Most engineers realize this
and accept it as their every-day working creed. Life to them, like the
medium through which they give expression to their ideas, is a matter of
mathematics. Two steps taken in a wrong direction mean an equal number
of steps forcibly retraced--or the whole problem goes wrong. Engineers
rarely take the two steps in the wrong direction. When they do take
wrong steps they are quick to right them. For the code is always before
their eyes.



Just at present the future of the engineer is more richly promising than
it might otherwise have been but for the war. Due to the period of
reconstruction now confronting the world, a work almost wholly that of
the engineering professions, engineers for a period of a decade at least
are destined to be overburdened with projects. Nor will any one branch
be occupied to the exclusion of any other branch or branches. Civil and
structural engineers will, as a matter of course, have the first call;
but with the work of these men well under way--consisting of the
reconstruction of towns and cities--mechanical and electrical men will
necessarily be called upon, with, no doubt, liberal demand for mining
engineers. Each branch will have its place and serve its usefulness in
the order as the reconstruction work itself will fall, with the result
that all branches of the profession will be busily occupied.

Manufacturers have been ready or are getting ready for this
unprecedented promised activity for some little time. Representatives
are flocking abroad on every boat sailing from these shores with schemes
and plans for the rapid upbuilding of devastated Europe. These men, for
the most part, are engineers embracing all branches of the profession,
and each is a man especially well qualified to serve in his branch. In a
way he is a specialist. He may represent a giant structural
organization, or a machine-tool manufacturer, or an electric-lighting
and power concern--any one of the many fields of industrial enterprises
whose product is needed to place demoralized France and Belgium back
upon a productive basis. For when the construction period is over with
there will be need for machine-tools and equipment for operating these
tools, such as engines and boilers and motors, all of which come
properly under the head of engineering productive enterprises.

Engineers--especially American engineers--will be in great demand, as
they are already. Nor will the close of the reconstruction period
witness an abatement of this demand. Having once entered the foreign
field on a large scale, they will of necessity continue to be in demand
not only for the furtherance of industrial projects, but for purposes of
maintaining that which has been installed at their hands. Machinery has
a way of needing periodical overhauling--even the best of machinery--and
this will entail the services of many engineers for long after the
machinery itself has been set up. The services of erecting engines,
operating engineers, supervising engineers--known more properly as
industrial engineers--following, as the need will, close upon the heels
of the constructing and selling men--will keep the many branches alive
and in foreign trade for much more than a decade--or so it seems to the
writer. Other nations may, of course, whip into the field and in time
crowd out the more distant--meaning American--engineers and engineering
products. But I don't think so, because of the acknowledged supremacy of
American engineers in many directions. The war itself taught the world
that we possessed such a supremacy, and the world will be slow to
forget--especially the purchasing side of nations themselves so crippled
of man-power as to be for a generation well-nigh helpless.

So the immediate future of the engineer is richly promising. It is so
rich with promise that a young man could hardly do better than to enter
upon engineering as a life-work, provided he has no particular choice of
careers, and would enter upon an attractive and scopeful one. His work
is already laid out for him. Taking up a course of study leading to the
degree of M.E., or C.E., or E.E., in four years, upon graduating, he can
retrace his way, or the way of his brother, over the battle-fields of
Europe, a constructive rather than a destructive agent now, a
torch-bearer, a pilgrim, a son of democracy once again advancing the
standard in the interests of humanity. He may do this as a mechanical
engineer, as a civil engineer, as an electrical engineer, as a mining
engineer; it matters not. What does matter is that he will be carrying
Old Glory, in spirit if not in the letter, to the distant outposts--the
especial province of the Anglo-Saxon race, anyway, from the beginnings
of this race--and so serving to maintain the respect and affection
already established in these countries by our soldiery. To the writer
the thing looks mighty attractive.

Yet the young engineer's future need not lie in distant places
necessarily. He may stay at home and still have his work cut out for
him. The promised unparalleled activity in the field of engineering on
the other side cannot but enlarge and accentuate the activity on this
side of the water. Plants will be operating full blast to catch up with
the demand imposed by this abnormal activity, and thus the engineer will
perforce bear the burdens of production. He will bear them in all
directions, since industrial activity means engineering activity, and
the work of production cannot go on without him. In the mines, the
mills, the quarries, the foundry, the machine-shop, the pattern-shop,
the drafting-room, the engineering offices, the consulting
divisions--all these, necessitating as they do the employment of one or
more engineers in at least a supervising capacity, will have urgent need
for his services. Constructive work always, he will grow as his work
grows, and because the growth of his work under these abnormal
conditions will be of itself abnormal, his own growth under these
conditions will be abnormal. He will find himself a full engineer before
his rightful time.

Right here it would be well to point out to the young graduate the
importance of getting under a capable engineer. For, much as the writer
dislikes to admit it, there are engineers who are not capable and who
yet occupy positions of great responsibility. The young engineer, fresh
from college and a bit puzzled as to the game as a whole, if he accept a
connection under an engineer, for instance, whose inventive ideas are
impractical, will unwittingly absorb such a man's viewpoint on
construction, and so spoil himself as an engineer for all time to come.
Cases like this are not rare. The writer personally knows of more than
one young man who enlisted under an engineer whose ideas on
administration probably accounted, being as they were good ideas, for
his position of authority over matters not strictly of an administrative
nature. The man wanted to exercise his authority over all things within
his department--not the least of which was machine design--with the
result that the young graduate's normally practical viewpoint on matters
of construction became warped into that of the man over him, and
continued warped for so long as he remained under this man, and
frequently longer, indeed, to the end of his engineering career. The
young engineer must pick his boss as our young men are facetiously
advised to pick their parents. The wrong selection will prove disastrous
to him in after-life.

Which is but an aside--though a very important one. To emulate a
weakling in whatever walk of life, be it painting or writing or
engineering, means to begin wrong. Everybody knows the importance of a
right beginning. It is no less true of the young engineer than of

And what with the example set by Herbert Hoover and other dollar-a-year
men, mostly engineers, in the nation's administrative affairs during the
war, the future of the engineer looks bright in these quarters as well
as in quarters embracing engineering constructive work wholly. The
engineer of the future undoubtedly will take active part in municipal
and national affairs, more likely than not in time entering upon a
political career as a side interest, as the lawyer enters upon it
to-day, within time--so it seems to the writer--members of the
engineering professions occupying positions of great trust, such as
state governorships and--who knows?--the Presidency itself. Certainly
the hand points this way. More and more engineers are coming into
prominence in the public eye, and with every member of the profession so
coming, the respect for men of his profession multiplies among laymen.
It is not too much to say, therefore, that engineers are destined to
fill places of great political power. It is to be hoped that they are.
Whether they do or not, the future at this writing amply promises it,
and so forcibly that it may well be included as existing for the
engineer, as being a part of the future of the engineer.



A graduate of Cornell, in the class of '05, after placing away his
diploma where it could not trouble him through suggestiveness, accepted
a position with a large manufacturing concern in western Pennsylvania.
He was twenty-three years old. He went into the shop to get the
practical side of certain theories imposed upon his receptive nature
through four long years of study in a mechanical-engineering course. The
concern manufactured among other things steam-turbines, and this young
man, having demonstrated in school his particular aptitude for
thermodynamics--the study of heat and its units in its application to
engines, and the like--entered the erecting department. Donning
overalls, and with ordinary rule in his hip pocket--as against the
slide-rule with which he had worked out his theoretical calculations
during his college years--he went to work at whatever was assigned him
as a task by his superiors--shop foremen, assistant superintendent,
occasionally an engineer from the office.

This young man did many things. He helped to assemble turbine parts;
carried word of petty alterations to the proper officials: assisted in
the work of making tests; made detailed reports on the machine's
performance; screwed up and backed off nuts; in short, got very well
acquainted with the steam-turbine as manufactured by this company. He
knew the fundamentals of machine construction, and an understanding of
the details of this particular type of turbine therefore came easy to
him. He worked shop hours, carried his lunch in a box, changed his
overalls every Monday like a veteran. Usually his overalls more than
needed changing, because he was not afraid of the grease and grime with
which he came into contact throughout the day. He liked the work and
went to it like a dog to a bone. He was applying in a practical way what
he had learned in college of a theoretical nature, and finding the thing
of amazing interest.

He made progress. In time his work was brought to the attention of the
chief engineer, and one day, when the president of the company, who was
also an inventor of national repute and responsible for the design of
the turbine being manufactured by the organization, wanted to make
certain bold changes in the design, the chief engineer sent for the
young engineer whose work in college in thermodynamics had won for him
certain honors, with the result that our hero found himself presently
seated opposite the president at a table in the latter's office, engaged
in working out calculations on his slide-rule--calculations beyond the
powers of the president, because he was not a heavy theoretician. This
call was a big advance indeed, for it marked him as a man of promise--a
"comer"--in the concern. The president liked the ease with which the
young engineer "got" him in the matter of the proposed changes, and
quite before either realized it both were talking freely, exchanging
ideas, in the field of turbine construction generally. The young man
unconsciously was driving home the fact that he was a capable engineer,
one who, while still lacking in broad experience, was nevertheless
possessed of the proper attitude toward engineering as a whole to compel
the interest and attention of his superior.

The young man eventually was sent out upon the road as an erecting man.
In this work he discovered certain operating faults in the design, and,
reporting these faults to the home office, observed that not a few were
remedied in subsequent designs. He moved about the country from place to
place, setting up and operating steam-turbines, until there came the
blissful day when he was called back to join the engineering staff in
work covering design. Laying aside his overalls, he emerged as a crisp
young engineer in a linen collar and nifty cravat--although not till
later did he don a cream-colored waistcoat--and thereafter his hours
were seven instead of nine. With a desk and a stenographer he entered
upon work of a somewhat statistical character. He followed the designs
of rival companies as best he could through their advertising and
articles covering their respective designs appearing in the technical
journals, and about this time also applied for admission, and was
granted it, in the foremost engineering society embracing his particular
branch of the profession. He was still making progress.

Likewise, he was rapidly becoming an expert in the field of
steam-turbines. His work in the shop, together with his experience on
the road, both as an erecting man and operating engineer, had eminently
fitted him for valuable service in the home office as an engineer
overseeing design. His work in charge of design, where his knowledge of
what had given service both good and bad in details of construction
while he was in the field, was extremely valuable to the designer
himself, was rapidly rounding him out as a steam-turbine man. His salary
had gone up apace with his progress; he had met the right girl at a club
dance in the suburban town where he had taken modest quarters; he was
rapidly headed toward success both as an engineer and a citizen. He had
been out of school probably six years, and was still a very young man,
with all the world practically before him.

One day he was asked by the chief engineer of the concern to journey to
New York, and read a paper before his engineering society at one of the
regular annual meetings, on the subject of thermodynamics in its
relation to the company's own product--the turbine. He tipped over his
chair in his eagerness to get out of the office and on the train. He
realized the importance of this opportunity. He was to appear before his
fellow-engineers--the best and most capable and prominent in the
profession--and to appear as an authority on his subject! The thing was
another step forward. He prepared a paper, basing it on his six years'
experience in steam-turbines, and when he reached New York had something
of value to tell his brother engineers. The meeting was held in the
afternoon, and, dressing for the part, he stepped out upon the platform
before a gathering of some eight or nine hundred engineers and delivered
himself of his subject with credit to himself and to his organization.
Not only that. In the rebuttal, when engineers seated in the auditorium
rose to confound him with questions--engineers representing rival
turbine concerns--he proved himself quick at the bat and more than once
confounded those who would confound him.

He was making his mark on the industrial times. His paper was reviewed
in the technical journals and almost overnight our young hero found
himself recognized as an authority in his chosen branch. He was sought
out for other articles by technical editors, his associates in the home
plant generously commended him for his work; his salary received another
elevation; he called on the girl that night and had her set the date.
Then he plugged for salvation--further knowledge as a turbine
man--harder than ever. Having won the full confidence of the officials
of the company by this time, he was given free voice in all matters
having to do with the design of their product, and shortly after his
first little boy was born was promoted to the position of assistant
chief engineer. He served in this capacity for two years, and then,
realizing that he had gone as far up in the organization as it was
physically possible to go, owing to the fact that the chief engineer was
the president's sister's husband--or something like that--he accepted an
offer from one of the rival concerns manufacturing turbines and entered
the organization as chief engineer at a salary too big to mention. Our
young friend had at last arrived.

Yet his success was not quite complete, nor will it be complete, until
he sets up, as he assuredly will some day, as a consulting engineer.
When he at last does this, when he swings out his shingle to the breeze,
he will then have attained to the maximum of possible success as an
engineer. Already recognized as being possessed of a fine discrimination
in matters of engineering moment, especially in thermodynamics as
related to turbines, he has but gone up in channels early laid out for
him, and indicated to him, in his college days. His direction even then
was clearly marked. All he had to do, and all he did do, was to develop
himself in this single direction. He did nothing that would be
impossible to any other engineering graduate. Merely he hewed to the
line--persisted in remaining in the one branch of the game--met with his
reward in time just as any young man would meet with it. There was
nothing of phenomenal character, nothing of the genius, revealed in what
he did. His way is open to all. And it is a way both worthy and
admirable, for to-day this engineer stands high in his profession and is
meeting with financial reward in keeping with his position among

There you have in the tracing of one engineer's progress to success
precisely what constitutes engineering success. The details may differ,
but the principles and the rewards will be the same, whether you enter
upon civil or mechanical or mining or electrical engineering. Success in
engineering constitutes certain satisfactory money rewards and an even
more satisfactory recognition by one's associates and fellows. Success
in anything is that. A man must work for them, however. There never was
and never will be a rainbow path to the heights. Toil and an abiding
faith in one's own capabilities--these make for success. Success makes
for happiness, and happiness, as everybody knows, is all there is to
this life.

I wish all men happiness.



As to the personal side of engineering as a career, if it would be a
source of gratification to you to know that you were helping to build up
the civilized world, then you should enter the engineering profession.
Because men differ in their ideas as to what constitutes a full
life--some placing ideal homes above all things, some seeking
continuously diversified sources of pleasure, some wanting nothing
better than a fine library or freedom to cultivate taste in pictures,
some wishing only to surround themselves with interesting people, some
wanting nothing but an accumulation of dollars, some wishing but for
power of control over others--all men would not find the full life in
engineering. Yet the majority of men would, because the profession holds
that which would appeal to a great many different ideas as to what a
complete life consists of. Engineering as a profession is scientific,
idealistic, constructive, profitable. It is combative--in the sense
that it shapes nature's forces--and it calls for a sense of artistry in
its practitioners. Added to these, it embraces a certain kind of
profound knowledge the possession of which is always a source of pride
to the owner.

Let me explain this last. The engineer, being as he is a man who views
things objectively, notes details in everything that comes under his
eye, be it dwelling or automobile, or bookbinding or highway. The layman
does not. The layman, outside his work, sees only the thing itself, when
looking at it--the general outline. But the engineer, trained to note
details in construction, observes detail at a glance, and does it almost
subconsciously, if not immediately after leaving school, then assuredly
later, after he has been practicing his profession for a time. His
outlook is objectively critical. Entering a house for the first time,
and trained as a mechanical engineer, he will note the character of the
woodwork, the decorations, the atmosphere, the arrangement of the
furnishings, all with the same facility that he will note details upon
entering for the first time a power-station or a manufacturing
plant--things within his own province.

Nor is this faculty confined to the concrete. Engineers are of that
deeply instinctive race of folk who perceive cause in effect with the
lightning swiftness of a wild animal. If they are not this when entering
upon the profession, assuredly they become so after a period spent in
the work. Something about the practice of engineering breeds it--breeds
this objective seeing and abstract reasoning--and to be possessed of it
is to get more out of life than otherwise is possible. Which possibly
accounts for the fact that engineers as a group seem to have a
common-sense viewpoint of things, one that is frankly acknowledged and
drawn upon when needed by men in other walks of life. Engineers are
extremely practical-minded, and this makes for a certain outlook that
will not permit of visionary scaring away from the common sense and the
practical on the part of its possessor. Engineers know why things occur
without having witnessed even the occurrence itself. Their powers of
reasoning are developed to degrees beyond the average--or they seem to
be--and out of this comes one of the sources of gratification on the
personal side to the man who pursues engineering as a profession.

The thing spreads out as I contemplate it. I would make so bold as to
say that the man of engineering training will see more at a glance when
first viewing the Grand Cañon, say, than will any other professionally
trained man. Should the Cañon collapse, he would know instantly why it
collapsed. He could give an opinion on the wonderful color effects that
would interest the artist, and he would know without hesitation how best
to descend to the bottom and wherein to seek the easiest trail. All
this, without his being a civil or a mining engineer, understand; merely
a man trained in constructive mechanics. On the other hand, the mining
or the civil man would view the wreckage of a locomotive accident and
see in the debris, select from the snarl of tangled wheels and
driving-arms and axles a ready picture of the nature of the accident and
how much of the wreckage offered possibilities for repair. Again, the
engineer sees in a tree, with its tapering trunk, the symbol of all
tower construction, just as he sees in the shape of a man's arm the
pattern to follow when devising a cast-iron lever for an automatic
machine. He sees things, does the engineer; sees objectively; follows
nature throughout.

All this being true, the engineer has a rather interesting life of it.
For not only does he see a little more clearly than otherwise would be
possible to him without his education and training, but also he does
things with his hands that come easy to him without previously having
undertaken them. The engineer can do much around his own home, if he so
choose, that of itself is a source of great satisfaction. Engineers can
swing doors, build fireplaces, landscape, erect fences, make garden, and
can perform these tasks with a degree of neatness and skill that brings
favorable comment from journeymen whose vocations this work is, and do
the work without training whatsoever in the work. Wall-papering,
painting, carpentering, laying up of brick, or the placing of a dry
wall--plastering, glazing--the list is endless that as side-plays are
possible to the man with an engineering training. He need not do these
things, ever; but if he wants ever to do them, he finds that he can do
them and do a creditable job of each, and this without his ever having
turned his hand to the work before.

Which sums up in a measure the personal side. The engineer is not a
superior being. Merely he is a man possessed of a highly specialized
education and training which peculiarly fits him for any practical work,
and out of this work, for practical thinking of the kind known as
constructive. Being constructive with his hands, he cannot but in time
become constructive with his brain. Being constructive as a thinker
first, he cannot but become constructive as a doer later. The one hinges
closely on the other, and having both, as the engineer must who would be
a successful engineer, he has as much of the world under his control as
comes to any man, and, in a great degree, more than is the favorable lot
of most men. For the engineer is both a thinker and a doer. Ponder
that--you. Men are either one or the other--most men--and rarely are
they both. Either side of their brain has been developed at the expense
of the other side. Not so with the engineer. The successful engineer is
both thinker and doer--must be in his profession. It seems to me that
engineering has many beautiful attractions as a profession.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Opportunities in Engineering" ***

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