Recommended Reading List

August 16, 2016

R2A maintains a focus on our directors’ continued personal and professional development. One key area of this is exploring new and historical ideas from the wider engineering context.

We often find interesting ideas in our reading, with relevant ideas for engineers, especially as they relate to due diligence and good decision-making.

Our recent blogs have discussed titles such as:

A current source of interest is Edwin T. Layton, Jr.’s 1971 award-winning historical classic The Revolt of the Engineers. This seminal text explores the emergence of the non-military engineering profession from the conglomerate of trades and technical workers in mid-19th century USA through to the 1960s.

There are many intertwining themes in this text, but perhaps the most influential is the tension that arose (and still exists) between the engineer’s role as a businessperson, and the engineer’s role as an independent expert (similar to a doctor). This conflict was played out through the formation and interplay of the various engineering societies with their differing agendas, and generated an unsuccessful push to place engineers at the centre of public decision-making.

This excellent and concise book describes the conditions that led to this episode, and illuminates the need for and role of engineering societies such as The Institute of Engineers Australia. While perhaps not providing definitive answers on how the professional-businessperson tension may be resolved, Layton at least asks the right questions. It is recommended reading for all engineers and engineering students.

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