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4.1 out of 5 stars
Engineering: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides)
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 3 November 2010
The opening line of the Preface of this splendid little book reads "What is an engineer? What comes to mind when imagining an engineer?". A most pertinent question. Many, of course, would give an answer relating to washing machine repair or car maintenance; others might suggest a relationship with science - or should that be applied science? I suspect that a lot of people asked who do they think design and manufacture mobile phones, televisions, laptops and so on would likely not say "engineers" - but probably "the Chinese". And as for bridges, buildings, food and medicines, Bugatti Veyrons, roads, fresh water, sewage processors, aircraft, wind turbines - the list is endless - there would be lots of shoulder shrugs.

Engineering: A Beginner's Guide cuts through all the doubt, misunderstanding and ignorance to reveal the real nature of the engineer and engineering and provide the truth that so many do not appreciate - that engineering pervades all aspects of society and of our daily lives. For "Beginner's Guide" read "People's Guide" for this is a beautifully written book that should be compulsory reading for everyone. And if not all members of society, then certainly politicians, those working in the media, teachers, parents, young people - so perhaps everyone after all. It is certainly the case that in the UK and the US and probably elsewhere, the lack of awareness of the substantial contribution that engineering makes and will make in solving the most important global challenges that we face now and in the future is preventing sufficient of those with the greatest ability to engage at all levels of engineering practice - from Professional Engineers to Engineering Technicians.

This is a really good read for those without any knowledge of the subject, but also in providing context for those with an awareness of perhaps just part of the rich spectrum of engineering activity. It also provides a real 'feel good factor' for those like me who have been steeped in engineering for most of their careers. There is something for everyone - the history and evolution of engineering; engineering's place in society; the approaches to engineering; and the distinction and relationship between engineering and science.

A much recommended book!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2010
I knew nothing of engineering when I read this and wasn't sure what I would get from it but I finished by looking at the world differently. It highlighted the moral dilemmas created by the engineering we take for granted and made me think of engineering in a completely different way. Not only has it shed light on what engineers do but it has enabled me to think a little bit like an engineer when I face reality. It is a book about humanity solving some big problems and creating others. And its a quick read!

There is something really nice about the way McCarthy writes. Simple. Clear. To the point. Insightful. Erudite. But never preaching nor condescending. It is as if a wise person is guiding you through places you needed to see but never knew you did.

I thoroughly recommend this book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 3 August 2012
Sure it's an easy and entertaining read. It is mostly about what engineers do from a sociological perspective with little of the inner workings of the problem solving. The specific examples are focused on everyday consumer items such as VCRs and vacuum cleaners (e.g., Dyson). Where it does get technical, it's unreliable. Marie Curie did not discover x-rays (p. 53)--it was Roentgen. In the same passage, it is correct to say that MRI evaluates fat, muscle and other tissue , but half-right to say it is made possible through the quantum mechanical properties of water since: 1) it is the properties of the hydrogen nucleus that generate clinical MRI imagery; and 2) if it were just water, you would not be able to image the fat tissue which the author correctly notes is present in MRI images.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 28 June 2011
This is my second One World Beginners Guides about a subject that I did not know much about and I now feel I have a much better understanding of engineering in everyday life and many other engineering related challenges (in terms of ethics, practices, limitations and future areas of growth). It is not technical at all, easy to read and a good structure of the issues involved in this topic. There are certain books which make one more fulfilled after reading them and this book certainly qualifies in this regard.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2013
A pleasant read about engineering for non-engineers, using plain language and avoiding jargon.
It describes the work of an engineer and that it is more than wielding a big hammer. A little repetitive for me
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 April 2015
Not what I expected, very little about engineering.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 November 2014
A no-nonsene book that sets itself a difficult task, explaining the conceptual framework of engineering, and steadily tackles this task throughout the book. No, by the end you are not an expert on Engineering but what it offers are real insights into the nature of the field made based on experience not beautiful-sounding but hollow grand-schemas.
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on 17 August 2015
Interesting reading for engineers
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 December 2012
it's an okay book if you're interested in engineering history. I did get a lot of knowledge reading it anywho :)
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on 20 March 2015
Great book, great service
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