I STUM­BLED ACROSS

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - PRODUCT WATCH - JANE WAR­WICK

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.

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