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would melt away. Without gold and silver, commerce would stagnate, one by one our boasted arts and sciences would disappear, and the darkness of the stone age would overtake us. It is no exaggeration to claim that civilization rests upon a metallic basis.
The little army of miners is no longer insignificant. Who can withhold from its members an involuntary tribute of respect, when we view the smallness of their number, and the importance of their work; when we reflect upon the uncertainties, the hardships, the dangers which surround them; explorers of another world; sailors, who drive through seas of solid rock; soldiers, whose daily task is a battle with difficulties, danger, and sudden death—the advance guard of civilization, the salt of the earth!
THE EQUIPMENT OF ENGINEERING SCHOOLS.
(Introduction to a Discussion.)
BY ROBERT H. THURSTON,
The equipment of an engineering school has come to be, in these later years, a vastly more important, extensive, and costly accessory to the school than was dreamed of a generation ago. The fact has come to be recognized that the school or college of engineering, like those of law and of medicine, is properly and necessarily the place and the means of training young men for a learned and exacting profession; it is no longer regarded as a boy's high school in which a feeble general education should be supplemented by still more rudimentary lessons in science, the milder sort of “higher mathematics” and a suggestion of the simplest elements of surveying, if the course be distinctively civil engineering, or of draughting and kindergarten shopwork if one of mechanical engineering. The profession of engineering has not only been established as a learned profession in the generation just passed, but it has come to exact of its novices, where trained in the most advanced and successful school, a more extended preparation, a more arduous professional course, than are demanded, to-day, by the schools of either law or medicine; and this fact, if there were no other corroboration of the conclusion, has fully established the engineer in his position as a member of a profession, and of a learned profession.
The necessity of conducting the student, already proficient in the elements of the mathematical and physical sciences, through a course of instruction that shall give him familiarity with the principles underlying every operation which, as a practitioner, he must, later, conduct or direct, compels the schools to provide themselves with all the apparatus of instruction in the physical and chemical laboratories. This was admitted and practiced years ago in the better class of engineering schools, but of late it has come to be seen that a truly professional school in this department also must be prepared to give instruction in the methods and practice, in the actual conduct, of all those operations which involve the application of scientific processes and exact measurement; in all the standard methods of determination of the value and of the distinguishing characteristics of the materials employed in construction; and in the ascertainment of the efficiency of such motors and machines as the engineer employs in professional work. This necessitates an outfit which includes, in the case of civil engineering schools, not only the instruments of surveying and field engineering, but testing machines and apparatus of the laboratory for testing materials of construction. In the case of the school of mechanical engineering, a whole series of extensive laboratories and complete workshops are required, including the mechanical laboratory for testing materials and the experimental machinery, such as steam, air, and gas engines, steamboilers, and other costly apparatus peculiarly necessary in the instruction of an engineer whose province it is to design, to construct, to operate and to determine the value of all kinds of machinery. So extensive and so costly have become these equipments of the great engineering schools in the United States that it has come to be seen that only large capital can secure such an outfit as can now be made useful in undergraduate and in post-graduate work, and that, however large the available funds, only wisdom, experience, and the utmost care in selection can make the equipment of the best and most wealthy of these schools yield maximum returns. It is thus important to consider what principles should govern the officer in charge of this class of instruction in the planning of a proposed equipment, the selection of its elements and the employment of the whole in such a manner as shall give the largest amount of instruction at the lowest cost of annual operation. It is this problem that it is proposed here briefly to study, with the purpose mainly of inducing discussion and a comparison of views and experiences among those members of the Engineering Congress who are most interested in securing the best solution.
The nature of an equipment such as should be given an engineering school of the highest professional standing is by no means unanimously determined by either practitioners or professors. In Europe, comparatively few schools of this class have what would be considered, in this country, an equipment for professional instruction. A moderately good outfit in
physics and in chemistry, for example, is all that is possessed by one of the most famous of all the schools of France. Few German schools have what we term a “mechanical laboratory, for testing materials, open to students or used in regular instruction of students in engineering. No British school has yet approached our ideal of a satisfactory outfit; although a number have secured single large testing machines and experimental” steam-engines. One distinguished English authority and a professor in one of the most reputable of British schools of engineering explicitly declares that he does not consider such equipments as desirable. He would give the novice instruction in the mathematical and scientific principles underlying the practice of engineering construction and would then send the student into the field or into the office or the manufacturing establishment to obtain the remainder of his professional training. He would not even use a model, on the ground that the engineer deals with drawings and that the graphical representation, rather than the concrete substance, should be made familiar to him.
But it has come to be well recognized in this country, at least, and is coming to be seen abroad, as a result largely of our successful practice, that the more the young engineer is systematically and thoroughly trained in the professional as well as in the scholastic work distinctive of his field, the better engineer does he become. It is also coming to be seen that a month of this regular, scientific, systematic training in professional work, especially in the case of