Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/81

This page has been validated.

for solution is a double one, and that it requires the aid of both the scientist and the mechanist in its solution.

But it is sufficiently evident that, before the engineer can determine what form of machine will best yield to him full control of these forces of Nature, he must have sufficient knowledge of science to be able to understand what scientific principles are to be rendered available, and what phenomena of Nature are operating in the production of the power which he is to seize upon and usefully to apply. Otherwise, he will grope in the dark, and will only learn, by the bitter experience of costly failures, to make slow progress toward perfection.

We have seen that the larger proportion of the principal improvements which have yet been effected in the steam-engine were due to the united engineering skill and experience and scientific attainments of James Watt. We have seen that his improvements followed a long course of intelligent and truly scientific research; and that, directed by the results of this investigation, the engineering talent and the mechanical knowledge of the great inventor accomplished more in a single lifetime than had been previously accomplished in the whole period embraced in the history of civilization.

This great example confirms what we should infer from the nature of the problem itself, that—

He who would accomplish most in the profession of the mechanical engineer must best combine scientific attainments—and especially experimental knowledge—with mechanical taste and ability and a good judgment refined by engineering experience.

As one of our oldest engineers[1] tells him, he must "cultivate a knowledge of physical laws, without which eminence in the profession can never be securely attained." He must become familiar not only with science and the arts, but he must train himself to make the one assist the other; he must learn just how to make use of scientific principles in planning his work, and how to do his work most thoroughly, efficiently, and economically, when he has determined his general design. He must be able to determine how far standard designs are in accordance with correct scientific and mechanical principles, to detect their defects and the causes of those defects, and to provide a remedy correct in principle and mechanically efficient. Science and Art must always work hand-in-hand.

But how are the rising generation of engineers to acquire this proficiency in both branches of knowledge? How are they to be made mentally and manually accomplished; how fitted for the great work which is laid out for them?

The time has gone by when, in any art, the ignorant and merely dexterous workman can compete with even a less skillful shopmate, who possesses and uses brains as well as hands, and knows how to make the one direct and aid the other. We to-day find him occupying a

  1. Charles Haswell.