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RE: Definition of Structural Engineering for High School Students

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From: Carlos Avila <cavila67(--nospam--at)>
Subject: RE: Definition of Structural Engineering for High School Students
To: seaint(--nospam--at)

“Structural engineering is the art of using materials that have properties which can only be estimated to build real structures that can only be approximately analyzed to withstand forces that are not accurately known so that our responsibility with respect to public safety is satisfied”

…… from an unknown author

I think the above quote is actually a paraphrasing of the following:

"Engineering is the art of modelling materials we do not wholly understand, into shapes we cannot precisely analyse so as to withstand forces we cannot properly assess, in such a way that the public has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance."
- Dr AR Dykes
British Institution of Structural Engineers, 1976.

A couple others of note:

"A good scientist is a person with original ideas. A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few original ideas as possible."
- Freeman Dyson

"Engineering ... to define rudely but not inaptly, is the art of doing that well with one dollar, which any bungler can do with two after a fashion."
- Arthur Mellen Wellington
The Economic Theory of Railway Location (1911)

My personal faves:

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools."
- Douglas Adams
Mostly Harmless

"An engineer is someone who is good with figures, but doesn't have the personality of an accountant."
- An Arts graduate's view of engineers

"Boring - see Civil Engineers."
-UK Yellow Pages

"Tell me, Mr Hoover, what are your interests?"
"Madam, I am an Engineer."
"Really? I took you for a gentleman."
- Herbert Hoover
Conversation on making the acquaintance of a lady on a steamship - apparently comment meant as a compliment

-Chad Grinsteiner

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