The Making of an Expert Engineer: Reviews

From time to time, readers send their comments.  See also 5 star reviews published at

Software Engineer (2019)

I am reaching out to express my admiration for your book.  I’m a computer scientist working for a research-focused company (our output is generally research prototypes for our clients), but my original degree is in mechanical engineering, and what you’ve written certainly resonates with my experience as a practicing engineer.  

Even working in a company that is structured more like a think tank than a product company, I’ve found myself pointing out to junior research engineers that they need to get used to the fact that they’re going to spend about half their time in formal or informal discussions with colleagues and stakeholders trying to figure out “Just what are we doing for the client?” and the related question “Do we all have the same mental model of what we’re doing for the client?”  I love how you’ve taken the care and the time to surface all the unspoken and tacit aspects of engineering practice – it’s been a pleasure to read (and reread!) your book.

David Burke

Design Professor (2015)

I think you did a great job of getting beneath the usual superficial descriptions about engineers and engineering. You have a lot of interesting material. The sheer quantity took me by surprise.

When I talk about what I learned as an undergraduate at the City College of New York, I say that the main thing was to sit on my ass and not go to sleep until I got the problem sets finished. You also include learning to plan out my time – you are absolutely correct, I never thought about it in that level of detail.

I very much like your concept of “expert” engineer and also the use of the price of water as an indicator of the quality of engineering in a society. 

I hope you have a lot of success and pleasure from having created such an in depth and authoritative work. 

Dr. Bernard Roth
Rodney H. Adams Professor of Engineering
Academic Director,
Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (aka, the
Stanford University

Young engineer (2015)

I am writing to you after reading your book and I hope you don’t mind a young engineer offering his thoughts.

Firstly, my background – I completed my double degree in mechatronics and computer science at the University of Melbourne a few years ago. I was very fortunate to find a job before graduating and moved here with my wife, taking up a role as a Drilling Engineer. I’ve recently embarked upon an MBA.

As an engineering student I used to think engineers were superior at solving the world’s problems and believed any problem that was non-technical in nature was not worth my time. If you’d asked me what career I was likely to end up in, I would have said Defence, hoping I would be working on robotics or aerospace projects.

While my attitudes were probably still entrenched 3 years on, I think I eventually began to realise the problems with these views and wise up to the realities of engineering. It is in stating the common misconceptions of engineers, along with evidence of what engineering actually is, that I found your book most valuable. I realised that I was at some level already aware of the truth of what was being said, I had just never really actively acknowledged the lessons I had learnt over the previous years. In essence, the book has helped me understand why there is a gap between what I have experienced of engineering practice and the popular image of engineering.

I read your book during a 2-1/2 week overseas holiday, almost cover to cover and found it enjoyable. I must admit I skipped over most of the activities and chapters 13 & 14, but I will certainly be looking to apply ideas such as discovery learning and keeping the importance of social interaction in the front my mind in future.

Another young engineer (2015)

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank you for your excellent work in writing your book, The Making of an Expert Engineer.

I could not have come across it at a better time in my life. I’ve just graduated from my university in mechatronics. I’m starting my first job soon and your book will certainly make the uni-to-work transition much more exciting and rewarding.

Engineer with 40 years of experience (2015)

I just happened to listen to your ABC interview while driving  and was so impressed that I asked our librarian to obtain a copy of your book  ‘The Making of an Expert Engineer’.  I was surprised that your book covered exactly what we do in carrying out our engineering business.  A recent merger has swelled our company ranks to something like 40,000 personnel.  While the firm’s core business is oil & gas, and nuclear, our office is predominately mining and processing oriented and undertakes project work in many countries.  I have promoted the book as recommended reading for all our engineers particularly  the younger graduates.  Your presentation of ‘high value engineering centres’  in Asia aligns closely with our experience.  Thank you for a valuable insight into the engineering  profession and congratulations on a successful book.

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