I STUMBLED ACROSS
this quote by the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot who said that “engineering is too important to wait for science”. Which may make perfect sense to you, dear reader, but seemed very odd to me, an engineering novice. After a bit of thought all I could come up with is that scientists explain something that already exists, while engineers are the other way around, they start with nothing and attempt to make it exist. Both groups must start a project giddy with excitement – scientists when they find something new to explain and engineers when they have something new to build. One deals in theories, one deals with the physical. However, there is apparently one area where scientists and engineers meet – conservation. In particular, the preservation of wetlands and other coastal environments. Here it is science that identifies a problem and engineers who fix it. Environmental problems are often time sensitive and cannot afford the experimentation style of problem- solving preferred by scientists, while engineers like to fix a problem immediately. While scientists busily identify the cause of a rising tide, engineers just get in and dam it. Perfect partnership.