I have pasted the Happy Pontist’s comment concerning my previous post on a book club below. (great comment and I am sitting in a vet’s office with a lame dog, typing on an iPhone)
I think HP should be given a book deal as soon as possible!
When I started thinking about the bridge design process I typically do not start with an idea about how it will be used. I start with how many lanes, how many spans, skew, materials, etc.
I think an engineer should read some books on Art, architecture, and some on how people interact with the built environment.
But check out HP’s advice below and give him a book deal!
I’ve been thinking about doing a series of posts on “ten great books for bridge engineers” ever since I started the blog, but never quite got around to it. Yes, I do read books other than about bridges (just finished the last in Stieg Larsson’s excellent Millennium trilogy, and before that a book on the science of evolution), but I won’t be featuring them on the blog!
As a typical engineer, I think anything that educates us about art or the human condition is valuable. It equips us to understand that bridges are the result of a complex social negotiation and have an impact on life beyond the functional. It also equips us better to have dialogue with other partners in the bridge design process.
There are a few novels which feature bridge designers in a central role – I’m particularly looking forward to reading Max Eyth’s “The Bridge Builder”, a thinly-disguised novelisation of the Tay Bridge disaster by someone who was himself an engineer and seems to have been well-informed. Mavis Cheek’s “Patrick Parker’s Progress” is also on my list to read, the eponymous Parker being a not especially likeable bridge engineer.
Setting aside books specifically on bridge engineering, I think bridge engineers can always benefit from exposure to other fields of engineering and design e.g. books on engineering history including the likes of Henry Petroski; architecture and design (especially those that go against the grain, like Stewart Brand’s “How Buildings Learn”); advances in structural and geometric design (like Martin Beckthold’s “Innovative Surface Structures”); engineering & architectural biography; etc.
Purely personally, I can’t read books on project management and commercial issues, I’ve been exposed to enough of that through work.