Flying Buttresses, Entropy, and O-Rings: The World of an Engineer

Flying Buttresses, Entropy, and O-Rings: The World of an Engineer
by James L. Adams

Harvard University Press
YA-T, GA **


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This text was written to provide a general audience with access to the subjects of engineering and technology. It is a superb book for high school students who are considering engineering as a major in college, for liberal arts majors who want to understand engineering, and for those who manage or work with engineers. The text begins with a history of technology and engineering and proceeds with a discussion of engineering--its complexity and the difficulty of both defining it and making generalizations about it. The last of three introductory chapters reviews why engineers focus on specific types of problems. The other 11 chapters address the major aspects of engineering, including design and invention, mathematics, research, development and testing, manufacturing, money and business, regulation, and future challenges. The writing is clear and contemporary and the diagrams are lucid and uncomplicated. Discussions of the Challenger tragedy, the balcony collapse at the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City, a DC-10 crash, teflon, velcro, bandwidth, and other technical topics make the book readable, convincing, and enjoyable. Mathematics is used sparingly and nothing beyond elemental algebra is required of the reader. This easily accessible book informs, explains, and inspires.

--Reviewed by G. William Troxler in Science Books and Films, 28/2 (March 1992), p. 46.