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Henry Petroski, April 30th

Blog topics: 

Another interesting speaker coming to Northwest Ohio - Henry Petroski, Monday, April 30, 6:30 PM, Nitschke Auditorium, University of Toledo. "To Engineer is Human" is the title of the talk. Sponsored by the U of T College of Engineering.

Local announcements: (will add more as I find them)

To help me understand what Henry is all about, I did some research into what my user experience colleagues have said about him.

If Josh and Peter and Don have read him, then I think it will be worth going to see him.


It was all about engineering, but I saw some parallels to questions IAs have been asking for a while.

  • Talk focused on "engineering is a great profession."
  • Process: Imagination - Aid of science - Plans - Realization in stone and metal - Quality of life, economic / political / social implications. (Replace "stone and metal" with "software and information" and you might have an OK view of the IA process.)
  • Engineering aided by science but it is not science - and not just applied science. Science asks "What is it?" Engineers create what never was.
  • Engineers and architects - very hard to separate them. Architects get the credit when it works, engineers get the blame when it does not.
  • Lots of examples of engineering failures...
  • 7 wonders of the modern world? Bridge, Dam, Skyscraper, Computer, Internet.
  • When did engineering become a profession? When the work was more important than who you worked for.
  • Green engineering? Fad?
  • Humility vs. pride - will not get it right the first time. Know your history and current events.
  • "Drive the train" engineers have the legit rights to the term. Do not get hung up on the words. Perverting the term - "Financial engineers" - do not take it seriously.