My father was an engineer and I like to think that if I was not dyslexic, with the resulting poor academic record at school, I would be one too. In any event, I ended up being a technician (mainframe computer), which meant that I got to hang out with a lot of engineers, thereby developing an abiding respect for that profession.
Why We Need Engineers
My father used to say that an engineer is someone that can do for ten shillings (say 50 cents) what any damned fool can do for a pound (dollar).
But there is more to it than that. Engineers understand the world around us in a way that the rest of us don’t. They don’t rely on intuition, guesswork, and yes, bullshit. They can draw, calculate and envision the world as it really is. And it is amazing how often what is “obvious” to us lay people about how something works, or will work, turns out to be totally wrong when exposed to an engineer’s analytical skills.
Having said that, engineers are not infallible and empirical information gathering by experienced lay people has value too, as does pure design—products from Apple Computer are the embodiment of that last point.
A Big Thank You
Which brings me to Matt Marsh, full time staff engineer here at Attainable Adventure Cruising Ltd, World Headquarters. Seriously, Matt is a young engineer with an interest in boat design who lives in Ontario. He has been a steady presence in the comment streams on this site. When technical subjects have got beyond my understanding, Matt has been there to explain the engineering reality clearly and concisely. Thanks Matt.
Matt has also made a huge contribution, both in the comments and behind the scenes, to our Adventure-40 project. Thanks again, Matt.
A Great Source
Lately, Matt has been writing about boat design. If you go to sea in a sail or motorboat, or aspire to, I urge you to head on over to Matt’s site. You will be better informed and much less susceptible to bullshit afterward.
Everything Matt writes is interesting, useful and informative, but the following articles are particularly germane to offshore sailing and the Adventure-40 project:
Also check out the very cool and innovative motor boat that Matt designed for himself and is in the process of building.
A Quick Rant
One other thing: I believe that the single most important thing we, as a society, can do to tackle the miserable situation the developed world is in today is create education systems that produce more engineers like Matt Marsh. If for no other reason than we need a lot more rational analysis, like this, to combat the ignorance, stupidity and political grandstanding that is preventing us from getting to grips with the world’s pressing problems.
Or, to put it another way, we need fewer MBAs and lawyers, way fewer bankers and finance professionals, and a lot more professional engineers. More people properly trained for a trade, like I was lucky enough to be (thank you NCR Corporation), would not be a bad idea either.