Communications

10 Books Engineers Should Read in 2018

03 January 2018

Happy New Year engineers! With the New Year come New Year’s resolutions. One of the most popular resolutions is to read more. But in order to start reading more, you need to have a great lineup of books you are excited about. This list is here to help. Below are 10 great books that engineers should read in 2018.

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us from Missiles to the Moon to Mars (Source: Amazon)Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us from Missiles to the Moon to Mars (Source: Amazon)

1) Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt

If you enjoyed watching Hidden Figures in 2017, then Rise of the Rocket Girls should be the first book on your nightstand. Often people think of space exploration as a male-led sector. But there were plenty of women computing and researching. This novel gives a history of the role of women in space exploration, computing, building space shuttles and satellites, and more in the 1940s and '50s.

Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead (Source: Amazon)Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead (Source: Amazon)

2) Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead by Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman

2017 gave us the first commercial driverless car and self-driving car tech is getting more advanced every day. Tesla has announced its self-driving trailer truck, both Lyft and Uber have been testing driverless cars for their customers, and Ford has teamed up with Dominos to test driverless pizza delivery. Clearly driverless cars are the future. Driverless was released in 2017 and this book gives the reader understanding of the risks and benefits of driverless cars. Engineers need to have all this information in their heads because it is practically guaranteed that self-driving cars will affect their jobs.

3) The Making of an Expert Engineer by James TrevelyanThe Making of an Expert Engineer (Source: Amazon)The Making of an Expert Engineer (Source: Amazon)

This book from 2014 provides the reader with the principles of engineering practice and knowledge that the author has gathered from his decade of research in the engineering field. A lot of expert engineering knowledge has been passed down by word of mouth, from engineer to engineer. Trevelyan decided to write down this knowledge, and this book was created. Young engineers can now learn from the many experts in one book.

4) Engineering Legends: Great American Civil Engineers by Richard WeingardtEngineering Legends: Great American Civil Engineers (Source: Amazon)Engineering Legends: Great American Civil Engineers (Source: Amazon)

This book gives engineers a lesson in American engineering history. This novel doesn’t focus so much on the engineering achievements in American civil engineering, but it focuses on the engineers behind them. The book explores the lives and progress of 32 American civil engineers from the 1700s to early 2000s. This is a great read for engineers because knowing the people who have developed your craft to where it is today is important.

5) Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee VanceElon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (Source: Amazon)Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (Source: Amazon)

Elon Musk is one of the leaders behind many of the recent inventions and engineering innovations we have seen in the last year or so. He is also the man who is behind many of the innovations we will see in the coming years. This New York Times Bestseller chronicles Musk’s life and his inventions and companies that have made him the leader in innovation. Engineers should be paying attention to Musk, starting with this book about his life.

Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies -- and What It Means to be Human (Source: Amazon)Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies -- and What It Means to be Human (Source: Amazon)

6) Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies – and What it Means to be Human by Joel Garreau

This book may not appear to be specifically about engineering, but don’t let the artsy cover fool you. Radical Evolution is all about how humans are engineering the next stage of our evolution. The book talks about advances in genetics, robotics, information and nanotechnologies, and how they are altering the human mind, memories, metabolism, personalities and more. This book says that engineering is behind the next phase in human existence and it is a fascinating read for any engineer.

The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artifacts-- From Forks to Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers-- Came to be as They Are (Source: Amazon)The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artifacts-- From Forks to Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers-- Came to be as They Are (Source: Amazon)

7) The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artifacts-From Forks to Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers-Came to Be as They Are by Henry Petroski

Engineers are behind more than machinery. Engineering is behind even the smallest things in everyday life, like a paper clip. The Evolution of Useful Things gives the reader a history of small things that they may not have given a second thought. While giving the history of these items, Petroski provides his theory of technological innovation and why engineers and innovators develop items.

Cheif Engineer: Washington Roebling, The Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge (Source: Amazon)Cheif Engineer: Washington Roebling, The Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge (Source: Amazon)

8) Chief Engineer: Washington Roebling, The Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge by Erica Wagner

This book landed in Amazon’s Best Science Books of 2017 list. Chief Engineer is a full biography of Washington Roebling, who built the Brooklyn Bridge. Roebling is often forgotten, even though his bridge is an iconic New York structure. Engineers should read this biography of Roebling to know the engineer behind the bridge.

9) Design Paradigms: Case Histories of Error and Judgment in Engineering by Henry PetroskiDesign Paradigms: Case Histories of Error and Judgment in Engineering (Source: Amazon)Design Paradigms: Case Histories of Error and Judgment in Engineering (Source: Amazon)

Another book from Petroski, but this time it is about failures in engineering over the years. Petroski says that engineers learn more from a design failure than a design success. This book covers some of the greatest errors in the history of engineering, and how engineers have learned from them. A great history book that engineers should read in order to know how their industry has evolved from failure.

10) The Existential Pleasures of Engineering by Samuel C. FlormanThe Existential Pleasures of Engineering (Source: Amazon)The Existential Pleasures of Engineering (Source: Amazon)

This book explores how engineers think and feel about their profession. Florman’s aim with this book was to break the myth that engineering is cold and passionless. Florman wanted to celebrate engineering because it is a vital part of life. This book gives the reader a practical, creative and amusing story of engineering that will give any engineer pride.

Any of these books are great reads for to get a jumpstart on your New Year’s resolution, or if you just want to learn more about engineering. Now read away!

To contact the author of this article, email Siobhan.Treacy@ieeeglobalspec.com


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Discussion – 4 comments

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Re: 10 Books Engineers Should Read in 2018
#1
2018-Jan-03 11:53 PM

Where's the cook book ? Engineers got to eat when they ain't engineering. Besides cooking is sorta engineering.

Re: 10 Books Engineers Should Read in 2018
#2
In reply to #1
2018-Jan-04 10:53 AM

Engineers use a different kind of cookbook. Their cookbooks won't be found in the food/diet section. It seems to me that when they ain't engineering, they ain't cooking either. Even cooking food is an engineering event. After all, how good can food be if it's not engineered properly?

Re: 10 Books Engineers Should Read in 2018
#3
2018-Jan-04 8:46 PM

There are so many more engineering fields these days that it's hard to keep track of them. There's social engineering, aerospace, biotech, communications, instrumentation, nuclear and manufacturing engineering, etc. Every new technology creates a new branch of engineering. I remember when there was only mechanical, electrical and chemical engineering.

Re: 10 Books Engineers Should Read in 2018
#4
In reply to #3
2018-Jan-05 8:16 AM

Same as me. I started out without any secondary school certificates when I was 15, where the choice was bricklayer, plumber, carpenter and electrician. I chose the latter and got a job as an apprentice - 5 years training on low pay that turned into 6 years because union rules meant you could not be qualified and on full pay until you were 21. The low pay linked to "your'e paid for what you know, not what you do".

So I set about 'learning' to better myself. It took me a further 10 years of day-release and night school and book-learning homework to get an HNC.

Which at the time was not good enough by itself to gain entry to the IEE where 15 years of work experience counted for nothing.

I abandoned electrical contracting to branched out into compressed air mechanical engineering - with further 5 years study and research - that was dismissed by the IEE because " it is not electrical engineering ..".

What crap! Stuff them! Meanwhile I did eventually qualify for the IET, but that is a long story.

It is the opposite today however - in fact it is unlikely you will qualify for entry without valuable experience in associated engineering disciplines - re emphasis on brownie points for Continued Professional Development - CPD.

They even take voluntary unpaid social work in engineering projects into account.

I have done it all, but too late for me. The point is: specific to the topic: ...where do engineers get all this knowledge from unless they have access to modern literature and jobs that link numerous disciplines.

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