The Invisible Engineer

by Henry Petroski, (M.ASCE), Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Duke Univ., Durham, NC 27706,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1990, Vol. 60, Issue 11, Pg. 46-49

Document Type: Feature article


For all their contributions to society, engineers have worked largely behind the scenes, seldom remembered in the dedication ceremonies of bridges and tunnels and skyscrapers. Several factors have contributed to the invisible, if not inferior, status of the engineer in society. But there is reason to believe that the personalities and politics of engineers themselves have played and continue to play important roles in the almost total lack of recognition for their accomplishments by the general public. The article traces how advancing technology and the growth of specialized societies have robbed the profession of a single voice, a public image as clear-cut as a doctor's or lawyer's. For engineers to achieve a more visible role in society in the future, they must seize every opportunity to tell their story.

Subject Headings: Tunnels | Social factors | Professional societies | Political factors | Legal affairs | High-rise buildings | Bridge engineering

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