Sayfadaki görseller

Mosaic regulations claim notice, as well as the method pursued by Hercules in cleaning the stables of Augeus. In hydraulics, the numerous controversies regarding the laws of flowing water, which have existed among the earliest as well as among later writers, give especial material for interesting allusions.

Next in importance to the historical development is what may be called the personal element in engineering. A great structure is erected by means of the thought and labor of the designer. The story of the life of a famous engineer, of his struggles to overcome difficulties, of his success in accomplishing his work, together with a statement of his character and habits, always lends interest to a contemplation of the engineering problems connected with his name. So it is with books. If a student be told some fact or anecdote connected with its author, a certain degree of personal acquaintance is invoked whereby interest is inspired. “Not things, but men,” is a motto which implies that human characteristics form, after all, the elements of greatest universal interest. Thus the instructor should try to bring before his classes not merely the names of great authors and engineers, but as far as possible the men themselves.

It is also the duty of the teacher to give frequent remarks concerning the current technical literature which appears in books, periodicals, and the transactions of engineering societies, particularly regarding those points which are exciting the greatest interest among engineers. There is scarcely a lecture or recitation whose subject matter is not in one way or another illustrated or discussed in the columns of the technical press during a period of a year or two, and if the teacher be able to quote these or to read extracts from them, a live interest is excited whereby the daily exercises of the class room are made to directly connect with the real practice of the profession. Students should be encouraged to subscribe for and to read regularly an engineering journal, as well as to consult the columns of those which are taken in the library. The various indexes of literature should be pointed out to him and instructions be given in their use.

In the regular work of the class room something can be done to form habits of precision which will be valuable in technical literary work. For instance, in lecture notes, computations, reports on field work, estimates, and other papers which students are called upon to present, an orderly, neat, and systematic arrangement should be required. It has been the writer's custom for many years to require such papers to be written with ink, as he has found that when this is done the student feels a higher degree of responsibility and produces better work than when a pencil is used.

The graduating theses of students give especial opportunity for literary work. The subjects of these are generally selected during the first term of the senior year, and before undertaking actual designs or experiments each student should make a thorough search over the literature which relates to his special work. These researches often give rise to interesting and valuable discussions among students, and theses are sometimes produced which are most creditable to their authors.

But what is most beneficial in training students in technical literary work is yet to be mentioned. This is to encourage them to actually undertake the preparation of discussions and the writing of articles, not formally as an exercise of the class room, but of their own voluntary act in their own associations. Engineering clubs, institutes, or societies, formed by students and entirely under their own control, exercise a great influence in this direction. Papers prepared by students are read and discussed, debates are held, visits of inspecțion made, prizes are given for the best articles, while an annual banquet gives opportunity for the feast of reason and flow of soul. Such organizations are now formed in most of the technical schools of the United States and many of them publish annually or quarterly a journal containing articles prepared by its members. As an instance with which I am familiar there may be mentioned the Engineering Society of Lehigh University which was founded in 1873, and which, except two interruptions of about a year each, has been actively at work since. The number of members is about fifty, consisting of men in the junior and senior classes, by whom the society is officered and controlled. During the past eight years it has published a quarterly journal, each number of which generally contains from five to ten original articles, most of which are written by undergraduate students and a few by alumni and instructors. It is of course true that some of these

[ocr errors]

articles are of little professional value, but it can safely be said that no student can prepare an article under the responsibility of publication without having received very great benefit. The only way to learn to write is to write, and the best training for a student in technical literary work is to prepare technical articles to be published over his own signature. Under this stimulus the student is urged on by the ambition of receiving commendation, and by the fear of unfavorable criticism, to put forth his best efforts and thus trains himself to produce good technical literary work.



Professor of Civil Engineering, Washington University, St. Louis.

The current literature on all technical subjects is becoming as vast as it is valuable. It is quite beyond the powers of any one person to even scan it all in any one field, much less to read it. But the reading of all of it is probably as undesirable as it is impossible. The mind of an engineer should be a workshop and not a warehouse. If he knows where to go for a piece of information when he needs it, until it is needed it is better out of his mind than in it. The impossibility of reading all the valuable engineering literature, therefore, should not lead to its neglect. There is but one satisfactory solution to the problem. This vast store of professional wealth must be properly classified and made accessible. It is accumulating in all technical libraries, public and private, and it must be made accessible by proper indexing. No simple name or title index will serve the purpose, since in the course of a few years the number of articles under one name will be so great as to discourage investigation. The indexing must be done by technical experts, with discretion, · taking only such matter as has permanent value, and

« ÖncekiDevam »