‘Fashions‘ in engineering

  • Eric R. Laithwaite
Chapter

Abstract

An engineer is first and foremost a scientist. He is undoubtedly an applied scientist and one whose ultimate objective is the profitable manufacture of articles for himself or for the organisation which employs him. Academic engineers may argue that they are as concerned with profitable concepts as they are with hardware and that the concept is more important than the machine. To this extent they run alongside the pure scientist, seeking the advancement of knowledge for its own sake, yet with at least half an eye on the profits and with problems many orders of magnitude greater in complexity than any with which the pure scientist is concerned. An engineer may be faced with a problem whose solution lies in a set of 19 simultaneous differential equations which contain perhaps 82 variables known to the engineer and possibly a further 63 which are relevant to the problem but unrevealed to him. He must of necessity fix the values of all but perhaps 21 of the unknowns and then seek the use of a computer to find the best solution formally. But no-one can tell him which 21 to choose, nor even whether his 19 equations have even interpreted the problem correctly.

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Copyright information

© Eric R. Laithwaite 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric R. Laithwaite
    • 1
  1. 1.Imperial CollegeLondonUK

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