Book Report: Engineer Engages in a Process

Pages: 10 (2802 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Engineering  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] A terrorist can, and will attempt to take down commercial liners with shoulder mounted surface to air missiles, leaving the passengers and the design engineers without recourse. However the reality of terrorism had opened a new reality for the airline designer. The issue of detecting explosives or designing safer cockpit doors has presented questions which are important for engineers to consider. Necessity is the mother of invention and in a world affected by terrorism, the necessity for safety introduces new problems to be solved by the engineer.

The other four factors are all directly related to the engineer. Human error can never be eliminated from the equation, so from a design perspective, the question is "what processes and systems can be introduced to minimize human error, and act to catch, and counter act human error when and if it does occur. Multiple redundant backup systems, warning systems, fly by wire controls - these modern systems all had their genesis in the need to back up the possibility of human errors. Designers cannot control the weather, but knowing the stresses which adverse weather can place on a plane and the danger of random electrical storms introduces into the design process elements which require the engineer's consideration. An airliner can be instantaneously subjected to dynamic stresses that are hundreds of times the design parameters. These short and unexpected weather related forces must be addressed as part of the design process.

If there is one failure factor which will land directly on the engineer's desk, it is mechanical failure. The design process itself will likely not be the reason for mechanical failure (unless an incompetent team was involved). Rather it is the documentation and maintenance schedules which the engineer is ultimately responsible to contribute to that have a direct effect on the potential for these types of air line failures. Finally, airline collisions are a function of failure in the three above areas. Human errors, design specification, weather conditions, and mechanical limitations of the equipment all can contribute to air ship collisions. During the design process, the engineer must take each of these three areas into consideration individually, and in multi-factored simulations in order to safely create the desired products.

Critical Issues

The critical issues of this book did not clearly address any specific aspect of engineering. As mentioned, the book covered so many crashes in shallow detail that design and engineering issues were not addressed. Ten lines to a page or so of information was not enough print to dig into the technical aspects of airliner failure. However, the book presents enough information for the engineer to ask "why, what happened? Was it a hard engineering issue, or a soft human issue?" Depending on the answer to those questions, the engineer can and should learn from this book indirectly. The engineer can look to the future, and ask himself what can be designed into the products to avoid or prevent these types of crashes.

The facts regarding transportation fatalities have been discusses for decades. It is safer to travel in an airliner across the country than in a car. Each year, there're more traffic related injuries and fatalities than in 5 years of air travel. However, the spectacular and cataclysmic nature of an air crash absorbs the attention of the media and consumer public. The reality of airliner failure presents circumstances that are subject to physical laws and dynamic forces that can bring instant and disastrous results. For all of these reasons, when there is an air crash, the media and the public forget the safety record or the airline industry. The idea of being in an airliner, helplessly subject to the laws of physics and gravity creates a higher level of intolerance for design failure.

Critical to the subject of airline safety are facts such as these. Human error has caused over 70% of airline accidents since 1950. The other important areas of air safety are finding better and more accurate ways of predicting the weather, and designing into the air vehicle failsafe systems if their do encounter unexpected adverse conditions.. Security needs to be increased in the ways of detecting weapons and explosives in our modern age of suicidal terrorists the final area of air safety that needs to be improved is the detection of mechanical failure.

Author's style

The author's style for this book, again, was tempered by his brevity. So much more information could have been collected, but different books are written for different reasons. With the large amount of photographs in the work, this book was meant to appeal to a wide audience through visual content, and broadness of coverage. The engineer is left with only bits and pieces of usable information.

For example the learning channels production called "Survival in the Sky" was a program dealing with tragedies in the airline industry. The series of four one-hour shows profiled a number of well-known and deadly disasters. While the program is devoted to sorting out the sometimes maddening causes of the calamities, there are notes of optimism about the commercial-airline industry's safety record. This program was a great format for wide and shallow coverage of these types of events. As a reader, I would have liked to see Mr. Sharpe go into deeper detail of the events, which is a treatment that printed media will allow.

Common Values between the two books

These two books provide the engineering student with bookend views of his career and responsibilities. Designing Engineering offers a real life view of the engineering process. The human, or soft systems involved in the engineering process must be included as driving factors of the engineers thought process. Identifying the 'what' of a design project is only part of the process, because ultimately the project or product will be used by people. In order to facilitate positive use by the und user, the engineer must also uncover and identify the 'why' of a project, and 'how' it will be used. 'Where' a product will be used is affected by the culture of the community, and the cultural expectations of the end user. Even 'when' the product will be utilized must be answered in order to design and create a useful product. The design specifications, and requirements for the human interface change if the product is used in summer, or winter, if it is will be used during the day, or in the night, if the product will be subject to continuous use, or intermittent application.

Air Disasters gives the engineer a real life look at the consequences of his design decisions. This book is helpful to prompt the student to brainstorm, and look beyond the existing parameters to uncover factors that 'could' exist. "What happens if..." is the most helpful idea that comes from this book. What if there was an advanced warning system regarding pending or potential mechanical failure? What if there were increasing amounts of weather detection and prediction equipment? What can the airline and airline industry to increase the amount and effectiveness of baggage screening? What if the airline boarding crew had the ability to detect amount of explosives being illicitly smuggled onto a plane at the point of entry?

Each of these questions has their roots in issues of technology and human interaction. Finding answers to any of these questions would improve the field of mechanical engineering by allowing design, designer, and end user functionality to interface more seamlessly. These two books, rather than spelling out the static process of engineering, help expand the engineer's horizon to include people and how his products and projects will affect the customers who pay for his design services and the end user who could be affected for the rest of their life.

Works Cited

Bucciarelli, Louis. Designing Engineers. 1996. Mass:… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Book Report:

APA Format

Engineer Engages in a Process.  (2003, September 17).  Retrieved June 17, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Engineer Engages in a Process."  17 September 2003.  Web.  17 June 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Engineer Engages in a Process."  September 17, 2003.  Accessed June 17, 2019.