Falling Down Is Part of Growing Up
...We are all engineers of sorts, for we all have the principles of machines and structures in our bones. We have learned to hold our bodies against the forces of nature as surely as we have learned to walk. We calculate the paths of our arms and legs with the computer of our brain, and we catch baseballs and footballs with more dependability than the most advanced weapons systems intercept missiles…And though many of us forget how much we once knew about the principles and practice of engineering, the nursery rhymes and fairy tales of our youth preserve the evidence that we did know quite a bit....
American engineer, author, and educator. A New York City native, Petroski received his bachelor's degree from Manhattan College and his doctorate in mechanics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Currently he teaches civil engineering and history at Duke University, specializing in failure analysis. Having a particular knack for explaining engineering to the non-specialist, Petroski delights in revealing the technological complexity behind everyday objects like pencils and toothpicks. He is a frequent contributor to the magazines American Scientist and Prism; his dozen books include To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design (1985), The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance (1990), Invention by Design: How Engineers Get from Thought to Thing (1996), and a memoir, Paperboy: Confessions of a Future Engineer (2002). Petroski's most recent book is The Essential Engineer: Why Science Alone Will Not Solve Our Global Problems (2010). See also cee.duke.edu.