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Engineering and the Mind’s Eye

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1 Engineering and the Mind’s Eye
Author: Eugene S. Ferguson Presented by: Nikhil Singh

2 “the mind’s eye is a well developed organ that not only reviews the contents of a visual memory but also forms such new or modified images as the mind’s thought require” “The mind's eye, the locus of our images of remembered reality and imagined contrivance, is an organ of incredible capacity and subtlety. Collecting and interpreting much more than the information [entering the optical eyes], the mind's eye is an organ in which a lifetime of sensory information [in all its forms] -- is stored, interconnected and interrelated.”

3 The nature of Engineering Design
“the differences between the direct design of the artisan and the design drawing of the engineer are differences of format rather than differences of conception” Design has two principal purposes Show the designers how the ideas look on paper They show the workers all idea needed to produce the object Designs are based on practical judgments The case of design of airplanes

4 Design as Invention “invention causes things to come into existence from ideas, makes world conform to thought; whereas science, by deriving ideas from observation, makes though confirm to existence” “form follows function” is not true. Newcomen’s design of steam engine to power a water pump

5 Design as Invention “Because inventors and designers nearly always devise new combinations of familiar elements to accomplish novel results, links to known technology are inevitably present” “a creative technologist possesses a mental set of stock solutions from which he draws in addressing problems” Edison’s rotating drum or cylinder

6 The process of Design 1900 – designers were in touch with world they have designed, e.g. Ohio Railroad Late 1950s – “only sketches would suffice” 1961-Panoramic Design Technique Block diagram can’t explain the process as The idea is in engineer’s mind long before need being articulated Steps in design process maybe all going at once

7 The process design is not a totally formal affair, drawings and specifications come into existence as a result of a social process. Members of a design group can be expected to have divergent views of the most desirable ways to accomplish the work. Designers engage in informal negotiations, discussions, laughter, and banter as they wind their way to the final outcome. Like learning, design is a social process.

8 Origins of Modern Engineering
“at least 80 percent of engineers work with technologies have been around for decades or even centuries” Bronze water pumps used in Roman mines The secret of design For the plans to be effective the system being planned must be predictable and controllable 1720 – Artillery School, 1749 – Military Engineering, 1775 – School of civil work designing, 1794 – polytechnique in Paris

9 The tools of visualization
Pictorial Perspective (linear perspective) Fifteenth century “one eyed observer rooted at the spot” Orthographic projections – engineering drawing Shows three views of the subject Eighteenth century Study Models Acquaint observers with unfamiliar structures Fourteenth century

10 Tools of visual analysis
“the advantages of graphical statics are qualitative, presenting in the calculations a sense of “what's going on” a feel and permitting the engineer to build in the mind’s eye a vision of forces in a complex structure” Answer questions such as “Does it look right” and “Are the numerical answers reasonable”

11 Promise and Performance
Refers to Henry Petroski’s book The computer’s apparent precision, can give engineers “an unwarranted confidence in the validity of the resulting numbers” “Engineers need to be constantly reminded that all engineering failures result from faulty judgments rather than faulty calculations”

12 Summary/Quotes An engineering education that neglects nonverbal thinking, such as diagramming techniques and skills, produces a new breed of engineers who are dangerously ignorant of reality and the ways in which it differs from mathematical models constructed in academia engineers must "think and communicate visually."

13 Summary/Quotes "Elite engineering schools are increasingly turning out students more familiar with mathematics than machinery: graduates, as one working engineer told me a decade ago, 'who can't make anything, not anything I need.' That is about as cruel as you can be in talking about an engineer." “The real problem of engineering education is the implicit acceptance of the notion that high-status analytical courses are superior to those that encourage the student to develop an intuitive "feel" for the incalculable complexity of engineering practice in the real world.”

14 Thank you -- nikhil

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