Engineers: I need your help

I have taken on the job of editing a short book – 30 Second Engineering being published by Ivy Press.  The aim is to provide non-engineers with a quick introduction to what engineering is all about.

The book is part of a widely published, popular series and is likely to be translated into many languages.

Part of the challenge is to describe everything about engineering a non-engineer might want to know in 50 paragraphs of 220 words, each encapsulating a separate engineering topic!

Here’s a draft for mechatronics, just to give you an idea of the content we are aiming for.

I need your help with suggestions for famous engineers to be featured in the book, particularly engineers from Asian or other countries and not so well known in the English-speaking world. Preferably, each nominee:

  1. Should have had a long and distinguished engineering career. If still living, there is minimal risk that anything could emerge that could damage their reputation (and that of the book!);
  2. Should be readily recognizable, either because their achievements are well known, or because the individual is well known;
  3. Sufficient information about their achievements and career is available to write 300 words about them; and
  4. Helps maintain a gender balance: we need women and men nominated.

Please send your suggestions to  Please share this post with your networks as I need lots of suggestions for this.

I am assembling an international team of contributors to write each of the topics.  We are still looking for contributors for the following topics, particularly contributors from the USA.  If you know someone who has the necessary depth of knowledge and ability to write a short but informative piece on any of the topics below, please let me know…


Thank you.


Wind energy (mechanical engineering chapter)

Composite carbon fibre blades, compact gearboxes and tiny refrigerators built into windmills enable cheap renewable energy from the wind.

Plastics and fertilizers (chemical engineering chapter)

Plastics preserve food, cheap to make and manufacture, and modern biotechnology is eliminating the plastic waste nightmare. Fertilizers are critical for food production.  Both reflect a century of chemical engineering technology development.

Nanotechnology (electrical, electronic, computer engineering)

An extension of integrated circuit manufacture, how scale influences dominant influences, limitations, how nano-insects need not be feared. Laboratories on a chip.

Remote sensing (electrical, electronic, computer engineering)

From radar to LIDAR to laser spectroscopy, signal processing principles and applications.

Great railways (transport engineering chapter)

Mechanical engineering principles enabled the great railways of the world and high speed trains.  Should contain references to high-speed trains in China, Japan, France.

Great ships (transport engineering chapter)

Marine engineering and fundamental buoyancy dynamics, lessons learned from the Titanic and other marine disasters, enable safe shipping that provides cargo deliveries world-wide. Possible focus on Prelude LNG production platform.

Flight (transport engineering chapter)

Aerodynamics, structures, engines and propulsion, fuel storage and management, payloads, take-off and landing, recovery, drones. Fundamental principles of aerodynamic lift.

Aerospace materials (transport engineering chapter)

A Comet airliner broke up mid-air and engineers learned about metal fatigue, fundamental material properties and safety in the air today is built on those principles.  Today’s aircraft are increasingly made from composite materials.  Fatigue can be accurately predicted by computers, but composite structures for aerospace have to be built full scale and tested for long periods because we don’t yet have satisfactory computer models.  Aerospace demands the strongest, lightest and most durable materials for structures.

Lessons from space (transport engineering chapter)

Challenger and Columbia, two space shuttle disasters, have been painstakingly analysed and teach us valuable lessons in the search for reliable space travel and all engineering endeavours.  Fundamentals of propulsion and energy systems, radiation and micro meteorite protection.

Self-driving cars (transport engineering chapter)

Localisation and obstacle avoidance, driving strategies, testing and reliability development

Scarce resources (engineering futures chapter)

Discarded waste is becoming a richer source of raw materials than many traditional mines, creating a new recycling and reuse economy.

Feeding our world (engineering futures chapter)

Improved food storage and processing can boost agricultural productivity enough to feed the world’s growing populations.

Future transport (engineering futures chapter)

Self-driving cars, ships and aircraft will provide faster, safer and more reliable transport more cheaply than has ever been possible till now.

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