Book Name : Invention by Design : How Engineers get from Thought to Thing
Author : Henry Petroski
Genre : Non- Fiction
What is it about? : This book is about the nature of Engineering. How Engineers think of a problem or a necessity and try to meet it. It does this by presenting a few case studies. Starting from the common paper clips to Bridges it covers a huge range of things designed by Engineers.
How I came to read it : I had this book in my wish list for a long time now. I remember I first came to know about it some 5 years back while I was in my first job. A major hindrance to getting my hands on it was the cost and its unavailability on major online book stores. Here in Vancouver I could easily get it from the University library thanks to a friend.
Did I like it?
Moderately. The style and a bit of dry writing made it a mildly boring book to read. I had so much expectations on this one.
The content is, without a doubt, hugely informative. The development of the things presented in the case studies are shown in a such a way so as to throw light on the different facets of Engineering like Design, analysis, failure, economics etc. They also touch on different engineering fields like Aeronautical, Civil, Computer, Electrical, Mechanical and Structural Engineering. The case studies are of the following items: Paper clips, Pencils Points, Zippers, Aluminum Cans, Fax, Airplanes, Water networks, Bridges and Buildings.
I never knew that the development of paper clips involved a lengthy Engineering process. You would be amazed to know how many designs were suggested for the simple purpose of holding a bunch of papers together. There was an important point mentioned that Engineers spot problems that the general public cannot see. The development of a lot of everyday products is the result of this ability of the Engineers. The other case studies reveal a lot about the issues in developing a product and how engineers go about solving them.
All in all, had it not been for the drab writing this book would have been a powerful magnet for attracting people to Engineering.