« ÖncekiDevam »
his tests that contracts are being fulfilled, or specifications lived up to, in the interests of his client the consumer. While all three forms of the testing engineer may be and often are engaged in research, in investigating a knotty problem, or devising the means of demonstrating a point, it is perhaps more commonly the work of what may be called the “unattached testing engineer” to make investigations. The professors in colleges, especially those having a genius for experiment, and indeed independent investigators, who, as the result of business shrewdness or by good fortune, are so situated that they are not compelled to struggle for an existence, are continually adding to the sum of human knowledge by their tests and experiments while laboring in this field. They have no clients to satisfy, no employer's interest to defend, and no antagonisms to overcome, except perchance the unwillingness of nature to yield up her secrets. Their loyalty is to the truth alone; their stimulus, their zeal for knowledge, and their reward, the approbation of their fellows. These seem to be almost ideal conditions for securing the truth, and it would seem as though results obtained by such experimenters, or testing engineers, and under such conditions, ought to be accepted and acted on without question. But we venture to suggest that there is one desirable, not to say essential element, in the search for truth, that is lacking in the conditions outlined above. This is the element of human antagonism. Perhaps an example will best make the point clear. The subject for investigation we will say is a method for determining phosphorus in steel. The professor or independent investigator makes his studies and experiments, and publishes his results. During the whole investigation he has been actuated by no desires, except to get at the truth. There has been no temptation, except perhaps the desire to finish the investigation, to stimulate him to neglect any essential point, to give any results or draw any conclusions that the most rigid interpretation of the facts would not warrant, and hence so far as accuracy is concerned, it would appear as though no questions should be raised. And yet, so great is our belief in the value of human antagonism, where the truth is involved, that we cannot help saying that we would prefer a method which resulted from the contentions of two chemists, the one of whom was the employee of a consumer and who was trying to make out that the sample on which they were both working contained more phosphorus than the specifications allowed; and the other of whom was the employee of the producer, and who was trying to show that the phosphorus in the sample was below the requirements of the specifications, there being a large commercial transaction involved in the result. We cannot help feeling that every point in the method would receive much more severe criticism, and consequently if it survived would be much more worthy of confidence under these conditions, than if it was brought out by a single experimenter making investigations for the sake of publishing them. So greatly does the legal fraternity rely on the element of human antagonism as an essential feature in the development of truth, that we are entirely safe in saying that the whole structure of legal procedure is based on this foundation. It may not be amiss here also to quote from one of our instructors in chemistry, who had reached the philosophic age, and who in a very dry way used to say that during his active work he had tested many published methods in analytical chemistry, which, for some reason, not necessary to explain, always apparently gave better results in the hands of those who devised them than he was ever able to get from them. We fancy it hardly needs saying that in this matter there is no intention of questioning the integrity or reliability of investigators who are studying the truth for the truth's own sake. The point we had in mind was to suggest the thought that perhaps those who are accustomed to glorify pure science may have overlooked one fairly important element in the development of truth.
Returning to the testing engineer: As already indicated, the field of work of this important element in the industrial world seems to be either to find out new things, or to protect the interests of the producer or consumer. And there are three kinds of testing engineers to occupy these two fields, viz., the unattached engineer, the consumer's engineer and the producer's engineer. At first, there were apparently only two kinds of testing engineers, viz., the unattached and the consumer's. But it did not take long after consumers began to study and test materials and prepare specifications, before the producers found it necessary to protect their interests and defend their materials by means of testing engineers in their own employ.
It is perhaps hardly necessary to say that in this, our analysis of the scope and field of the testing engineer, we have not forgotten the various inspection bureaus and testing laboratories which are doing such excellent work in various parts of the country. As we understand the matter, these organizations, while perhaps not strictly covered by the definitions given, in that they do not derive their continuous sustenance in such a way as the unattached testing engineers, nor in the same way as those who defend the interests of the consumer or the producer, and in that they have an independent organization, and owe loyalty only where it is paid for; yet in a certain sense these independent organizations do perform exactly the same functions as the three classes of testing engineers which we have described. Any one of them will make investigations either in the interests of a client or for the sake of the truth alone; any one of them will temporarily, or continuously, if the retainer be sufficient, defend and care for the interests of a consumer, or will render a like service for a producer, provided, of course, that the interests of the two are not antagonistic at the same time. So that we cannot help feeling that the three kinds of testing engineers mentioned, the unattached, the producer's and the consumer's, fairly well cover the field.
What now shall be the cast of mind, and what the mental equipment of the testing engineer? Upon the first of these topics, it is difficult to say much that is positive. It is perhaps easier to say what kind of mind will not succeed in this branch of engineering, than to say what the positive requirements of a successful testing engineer are. We will perhaps all agree that he should be independent, self-reliant, gifted with the power of analysis of facts, as well as with the power of drawing conclusions from the data at hand. He should be ingenious in devising methods to demonstrate the points at issue, and a careful observer of data. He must keep himself free from bias or prejudice, and take especial pains that he does not deceive himself. He should be fond of experiment and have a genius for it. Many times during our nearly thirty years attempt to do something in the line of the work of a testing engineer, we have had occasion to paraphrase the Latin apothegm and say, "experimenters are born, not made.” He should keep constantly in mind the end to which his experiments tend, and understand clearly the effect of every step in the progress of his tests, and its influence on the final result. Above all, he should be a thinker. No man who, when a problem is presented to him, simply searches his memory for whatever he may have learned in the schools, or have perchance picked up in his reading which bears on his problem, has any especial call to be a testing engineer. We are quite ready to allow that the power of seeing analogies between your own problem, and one that some one else has had, and perchance successfully solved, is a legitimate and useful, not to say time-saving habit of mind, but the point we want to make is that the one who habitually and continuously approaches every problem through memory, or by studying up what others have done, is far less likely to succeed as a testing engineer, than one who habitually attacks a problem by an analysis of its elements.