Henry Petroski- "Engineering is not science"

Henry Petroski, famous structural engineering professor and author about failure analysis, has a neat opinion piece in IEEE Spectrum in which he argues that Engineering is Not Science:

Scientists might argue that the government needs to invest in basic scientific research that will lead to unspecified discoveries about energy, water, and waste. Although a good deal is already known about those things, it certainly would not hurt to know more, but what would really move things forward would be investments in engineering.

Throughout history, a full scientific understanding has been neither necessary nor sufficient for great technological advances: The era of the steam engine, notably, was well into its second century before a fully formed science of thermodynamics had been developed.

Issac Asimov similarly said: “Science can amuse and fascinate us all, but it is engineering that changes the world.” This sentiment deeply inspires me and closely fits my personal perspective—I’m more of an engineer at heart than a scientist. I really appreciate pieces like this that emphasize the practical impact of our work.

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