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said of its use in the expression “unit-stress,” which is so frequently found in modern engineering textbooks and specifications? The engineer specifies that the “unit stress” shall not exceed ten thousand pounds per square inch ; that the unit stress may range from five thousand pounds in tension to five thousand pounds in compression, etc., etc. Imagine him specifying that the unit length shall not exceed one foot, or that it may be anything between one foot positive and one foot negative. The absurdity is spreading. Authors, encouraged by the success of “unit stress, have begun to try the effect of “unit strain ” on the engineer. The matter is worthy of receiving some little attention from the unitary doctors.

PROFESSOR J. M. ORDWAY said that he had occasion recently to examine a new work on the chemical applications of electricity. The terms “ampere” and "volt,” which occurred in the first part of the book, were defined in terms of each other.

There was no absolute definition. The case was just like saying “a foot is twelve inches; an inch is a twelfth of a foot." It was not until the middle of the book that there was any idea given as to how the quantity of electricity was to be determined. It is quite important, whatever definitions we give, that they should be given in terms that have been previously defined.

PROFESSOR E. A. FUERTES said that it is not only in the definition of engineering terms that there is a vagueness and confusion. The lack of uniformity of meaning exists in engineering specifications for the construction of works, both as to volumes and weights, as well as to quality of work. Thus, a mason may bid

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$2.50 for a “perch of rubble masonry” in New York, containing, say, 164 cubic feet, and were he to bid for the same unit of work in Pennsylvania he would be required to build a larger volume for the same price. Then, again, the term employed to describe the nature of the work is equally vague. There is no authoritative definition of what “rubble work” should be, and although we may find, in the specifications for the Croton aqueduct, rubble ranged or levelled, and so forth, and so forth, a contractor bidding from a distance is not abl to know what is wanted, unless direct reference is made to work already existing. Then there is nothing definite about the meaning of the words “crandalled,” “patent hammered,” “pean or bush hammered,” and so forth, and so forth; and the same kind of surface work may be called by different names in different States, or different kinds of work may have the same name in other States.

There is a complete lack of uniformity and of that exactness in the definition of engineering terms that the advance made in our profession should already command. This vagueness of definition seems to be purely inherent to our country, probably on account of the fact that, even at the present day, we are in the habit of importing skilled laborers of various nationalities who introduce their own terms, and these are subsequently anglicized or changed in States remote from each other.

It seems desirable that the Committee on Uniformity of Symbols should keep this matter in view, for it is likely to become a fruitful and useful field in which to strive for the uniformity of standard terms in engineering nomenclature. While it is not probable that complete success will be attained at once, a very great deal can be done through the weight and influence of this Society to bring about this result, especially since, in addition to the fact that we can exercise professional pressure in various directions, we are charged with a duty of teaching those nomenclatures to future engineers. The seed planted in the class room will eventually bear fruit in the generalization of uniform symbols, definitions and specifications for accurately describing work.

PROFESSOR THOMAS GRAY said, in regard to Professor Galbraith's remarks on the unit, that the examples given by him are, of course, wrong uses of the word "unit" in complex quantities in which some one quantity necessary to make the specifications complete is omitted. There are a very great many examples of that kind of mistake, particularly in journalistic literature, and it was largely that kind of thing that was referred to in the paper when speaking of journalistic literature. There is an opportunity for reform in this matter while trying to secure uniformity. In regard to the remarks by Professor Fuertes, the speaker had particularly in mind just the same thing when he stated, at the end of his short paper, that there would be great advantage in securing uniformity in regard to specifications for contracts. The want of definiteness in this direction, which has been pointed out more fully by Professors Galbraith and Fuertes, shows the great advantage there would be in having some definite uniformity for everything in regard to contracts, so that it may be known exactly what is to be done when an agreement is made to do it.




Director of the Michigan Mining School, Houghton, Mich. It was my privilege to present, for your consideration last year, a paper on the elective system as adopted in the Michigan Mining School ; it is now my purpose to continue this subject by presenting some further particulars, and pointing out the conditions under which this system might with great advantage be introduced into other engineering colleges.

To establish a clear understanding between the auditor and the author, it is desirable to divide the matter up into heads which are regarded as cardinal points in the argument.

I. ENGINEERING IS A LEARNED PROFESSION. This will probably be admitted without discussion ; hence it clearly follows that studies forming an integral part of the course in all engineering colleges, are just as truly professional studies as are those given in schools devoted to Theology, Law and Medicine. Those who follow the last named professions have certainly not excelled the engineer, if they have equalled him, in the task of promoting the happiness, welfare and morality of mankind; nor can it be proven that success in either of these professions requires deeper study, higher intellect, more experience with men and things, or better balanced judgment, than is needed for the successful presentation of engineering projects. Why,

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then, does the public at large hold the engineering profession inferior to the others just mentioned? The answer is because we ourselves have set them the example, and they accept the engineer at our valuation. Educators have, unconsciously perhaps, but none the less truly, proclaimed their own conviction of the inferiority of an engineer's mental needs and equipment by the introduction and continued retention of


This mistake naturally arose from the fact that the early engineering schools or courses were planned in the now clearly erroneous assumption that their training must include a so-called liberal education, or else must prove itself to be the equivalent of the classical courses vogue. Further, most of these early engineering courses were grafted into older institutions, under the control of a literary or classical faculty, men whose very training and success in their chosen lines disqualified them to perceive that the study of engineering, if properly conducted, affords just as rigid, logical and powerful a mental training, as can be obtained through the study of any other subjects what

Nor has the day yet passed when men can be found who strenuously maintain that such utilitarian studies tend to warp and narrow the intellect; and in their laudable efforts to overcome an imaginary evil, they persist in injecting into engineering courses such subjects as Christian Evidences, British Essayists, History of English Literature, Ethics, Hygiene, Greek, etc. That these subjects are worthy of study and afford valuable educational training is freely conceded;


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