Aesthetics & Motivations and Beauty in Engineering

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acap
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Aesthetics & Motivations and Beauty in Engineering

Post by acap » Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:49 pm

This topic is on the top of my mind these days. The chief motivation in engineering is providing something tangible to the society by the use of maths & science. In this process, we see a pattern in problem solving in engineering. One pattern is "simplicity" and it works in an excellent way as far as engineering is concerned.

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Re: Aesthetics & Motivations and Beauty in Engineering

Post by Chris Peterson » Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:52 pm

acap wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:49 pm
This topic is on the top of my mind these days. The chief motivation in engineering is providing something tangible to the society by the use of maths & science. In this process, we see a pattern in problem solving in engineering. One pattern is "simplicity" and it works in an excellent way as far as engineering is concerned.
Modern engineering, perhaps. But humans are engineers by nature, and we were engineering things useful to us long before math and science became tools at our disposal.
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Re: Aesthetics & Motivations and Beauty in Engineering

Post by acap » Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:00 pm

It may be feared that simplicity may compromise on cost/safety/etc. But if simplicity is adopted in a judicious way and supported by research, it can reduce costs and provide a workable solution. I see this in may areas of Civil Engineering (the Mother of all modern engineering disciplines) and am fascinated by the same. Further, Codes of Practices are in abundant numbers available and they too contribute to simplicity, ease of application etc without compromising on cost and safety.

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Re: Aesthetics & Motivations and Beauty in Engineering

Post by Chris Peterson » Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:06 pm

acap wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:00 pm
It may be feared that simplicity may compromise on cost/safety/etc. But if simplicity is adopted in a judicious way and supported by research, it can reduce costs and provide a workable solution. I see this in may areas of Civil Engineering (the Mother of all modern engineering disciplines) and am fascinated by the same. Further, Codes of Practices are in abundant numbers available and they too contribute to simplicity, ease of application etc without compromising on cost and safety.
Have you read any of Petroski's work on engineering? He studies engineering failures, and has described the history of much engineering (particularly civil engineering) as the path of making something (e.g. bridges or buildings) lighter and simpler until something finally breaks, which sets a new limit on simplicity.
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acap
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Re: Aesthetics & Motivations and Beauty in Engineering

Post by acap » Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:15 pm

Chris Peterson wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:06 pm
acap wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:00 pm
It may be feared that simplicity may compromise on cost/safety/etc. But if simplicity is adopted in a judicious way and supported by research, it can reduce costs and provide a workable solution. I see this in may areas of Civil Engineering (the Mother of all modern engineering disciplines) and am fascinated by the same. Further, Codes of Practices are in abundant numbers available and they too contribute to simplicity, ease of application etc without compromising on cost and safety.
Have you read any of Petroski's work on engineering? He studies engineering failures, and has described the history of much engineering (particularly civil engineering) as the path of making something (e.g. bridges or buildings) lighter and simpler until something finally breaks, which sets a new limit on simplicity.
I am thinking of use of simplicity in many ways in engineering - not just the complete structure. As a matter of fact I consider that many engineering solutions are available and/or being widely used beacause it is simple. This does not mean complex solutions have no place in engineering. The use of computers have made it possible to use complex methods in small problems also and offer workable solutions.
Thanks of the information on Petroski's work. I have not heard of the same but will now definatly get to know of it.

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Re: Aesthetics & Motivations and Beauty in Engineering

Post by Nitpicker » Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:15 pm

I think it was Nevil Shute who said it best: "an engineer does for five shillings what any fool can do for a pound" *. It is more about efficiency.

*25 cents to the dollar

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Re: Aesthetics & Motivations and Beauty in Engineering

Post by acap » Tue Jan 15, 2019 1:35 am

A modern construction manager/engineer juggles with 5 Ms - Money, Materials, Manpower, Machinery & Management to deliver projects to the client. Efficiency is the chief motivation in each of the 5Ms otherwise he is out of business.

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Re: Aesthetics & Motivations and Beauty in Engineering

Post by acap » Thu Jan 17, 2019 1:49 pm

For a Modern Engineer, time is also important because time is money. The engineering solution / project must use minimum time & it should be predictable. The time is also monitored to keep it on the path.
Complex engineering projects are managed by breaking them into small works and are linked. They are monitored and controlled.

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Re: Aesthetics & Motivations and Beauty in Engineering

Post by Nitpicker » Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:24 pm

The design phase of an infrastructure project, is where most of the creativity is to be found, in my (probably biased) opinion. The bulk (ideally all) of the design phase occurs pre-construction, and typically represents a small fraction of the overall cost of the project. Decisions made in the design phase can have a significant impact on the overall project, yet the design engineers are normally only paid for the design phase. In a competitive environment, more effort in the design can yield less profit, or even a loss for the design engineers, but a better project overall. In my experience, this leads to design firms only ever teaming up with construction firms commensurate in size, so that they can afford to sue each other when one or the other (or both) lose money on a project. So, it often boils down to insurance, which I don't find particularly motivating.

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Re: Aesthetics & Motivations and Beauty in Engineering

Post by acap » Sat Jan 19, 2019 12:10 pm

Nitpicker wrote:
Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:24 pm
The design phase of an infrastructure project, is where most of the creativity is to be found, in my (probably biased) opinion. The bulk (ideally all) of the design phase occurs pre-construction, and typically represents a small fraction of the overall cost of the project. Decisions made in the design phase can have a significant impact on the overall project, yet the design engineers are normally only paid for the design phase. In a competitive environment, more effort in the design can yield less profit, or even a loss for the design engineers, but a better project overall. In my experience, this leads to design firms only ever teaming up with construction firms commensurate in size, so that they can afford to sue each other when one or the other (or both) lose money on a project. So, it often boils down to insurance, which I don't find particularly motivating.
That is why we have "Design-Build" & EPC contracts

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Re: Aesthetics & Motivations and Beauty in Engineering

Post by Nitpicker » Mon Jan 21, 2019 3:21 am

Yes, I agree that contracts that get the designers and builders working more closely together, are better in this regard.