Engineering and the Mind's Eye

Engineering and the Mind's Eye
by Eugene S. Ferguson

The MIT Press
YA-T, GA **


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This book is a contemplative revelation of engineering and technology, resulting from an article that appeared in Science magazine about nonverbal thinking. Now retired, the author shares a lifetime of experience and insights about the "mind' s eye," a term that designates the visual capabilities of humans. The book contains a generous assortment of historic sketches and drawings and presents well-chosen topics, including a glimpse into the history of engineering, from its earliest beginnings to its current status, interspersed with the major role played by the mind's eye. The author emphasizes the unique nature of engineering design, namely that it is not a science, but rather an art that produces many beneficial items. Furthermore, the author concludes that this has always been and will always be the case. The design aspect of engineering, however, receives less recognition than does its scientific nature. Design is a process that necessarily is infested with uncertainties because one can never fully predict its outcomes. However, the path taken by the design process is predictable even though modern tools like computer-aided design programs are utilized. The preparation of engineers has varied little throughout history and is based upon the applications of science and mathematics. There is a chapter-by-chapter list of references for the more serious reader.

--Reviewed by Terry Ishihara in Science Books and Films, 28/9 (December 1992), p. 269.