Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Engineering is the art of construction. As a profession, or class of professions, it includes metal-working and machine manufacture; the design and construction of roads, railways, canals, harbours, and docks; the building of bridges of wood, masonry, or metal; of masonry or earthwork embankments and dams; of trenches and military fortifications; the design and carrying out of systems of water supply, including storage, transit, filterage, etc.; of systems of drainage, irrigation, and sewerage; and, lastly, the production of electrical power and its disbursal, the construction and working of electrical instruments and of dynamo-electric machinery of all kinds. Thus the distinct professions in engineering are numerous: military, mechanical, civil, marine, hydraulic, hot water, gas, mining, locomotive, sanitary, chemical, and electrical engineering. All these require special training, and the whole field is too vast to be within the grasp of one individual. The mechanical engineer has the greatest technical knowledge; he understands the nature and behaviour of materials, the method of their treatment, and their applicability to various structures. His knowledge of weak points in structures, the wisest modes of strengthening them, and of the plans to be adopted at the crises when they fail, is entirely practical and derived from experience that the highest theory could not with confidence teach him. Nevertheless, he cannot move onwards without theory; the principles of dynamics, physics, and mathematics are all-important to him, and if not sufficient to explain all his practically-acquired facts, they at any rate support such facts and enable him to predict others. Every engineer should if possible have a certain probation as a mechanic; those who have so served are taken in preference even where their intimate knowledge of handicraft and material are of no direct use. Such a knowledge is becoming more important every year in electrical woi-k, which in its great advances must go hand in hand with mechanical engineering Civil engineering may not in many connectione demand much of this special technical knowledge, as, for example, in the laying-out of railways, or the construction of simple roads, canals, or other waterways. But even in these the mechanical engineer comes to the front, as when heavy bridge-wofk occurs on the road or railway, and aqueducts, locks, or sluices on the waterways. The ideal. course for any engineer who is to design and construct at all should involve two years' theoretical work in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and engineering, and three years' practical training in some works, after which he should specialise in the one industry that he means to make his own.