Written by America's most famous engineering storyteller and educator, this abecedarium is one engineer's selection of thoughts, quotations, anecdotes, facts, trivia and arcana relating to the practice, history, culture and traditions of his profession. The entries reflect decades of reading, writing, talking and thinking about engineers and engineering, and range from brief essays to lists of great engineering achievements. This work is organized alphabetically and more like a dictionary than an encyclopedia. It is not intended to be read from first page to last, but rather to be dipped into, here and there, as the mood strikes the reader. In time, it is hoped, this book should become the source to which readers go first when they encounter a vague or obscure reference to the softer side of engineering.
Henry Petroski is the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and a professor of history at Duke University. He has written broadly on the topics of design, success and failure, and the history of engineering and technology. His fifteen books on these subjects include To Engineer Is Human, The Pencil, The Evolution of Useful Things, Success through Failure and The Essential Engineer. In addition to his books, which have been translated into more than a dozen languages, Petroski has written numerous general-interest articles for publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, and he writes regular columns for both American Scientist and ASEE Prism. Petroski is a distinguished member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and is a fellow of both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Institution of Engineers of Ireland. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.