What engineers know and how they know it: analytical studies from aeronautical history

Front Cover
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990 - Science - 326 pages
2 Reviews
"The biggest contribution of Vincenti's splendidly crafted book may well be that it offers us a believably human image of the engineer."-- Technology Review. Johns Hopkins Studies in the History of Technology. Merritt Roe Smith, Series Editor.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - SoSaySo - LibraryThing

The most thorough and insightful historical study of how engineering research was and is done. Vincenti has the advantage of having worked as a researcher in aeronautics before switching to writing ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - lorin - LibraryThing

Through the use of case studies in aerospace engineering, Vincenti illustrates how engineering knowledge accumulates over time, often contrasting it with how scientific knowledge advances. Vincenti coined the terms "normal design" and "radical design". Read full review


The Davis Wing
ControlVolume Analysis

4 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1990)

Walter Vincenti is professor emeritus of aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford University and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. He is an acknowledged authority on transonic, supersonic, and high-temperature gas flows, and on the history of technology, particularly the epistemology of engineering. Vincenti was instrumental in establishing an interdisciplinary program for engineering and nonengineering students at Stanford University. This program is devoted to historical, ethical, and social studies of technology and engineering. He is regarded by his colleagues as one of the wise men of engineering, a constant source of inspiration and support, and he is held in similar high regard by his peers around the world. His outlook on engineering and engineers is admirably demonstrated in his book, What Engineers Know and How They Know It (1990), "now the starting point for anyone trying to understand engineering, especially the character of engineering knowledge." (Jane Morley) For Vincenti, engineering design knowledge is generated through a varying process, sometimes scientific and theoretical in character, other times independent of science and rooted in experience and craft. Engineering knowledge and methods are thus partly indigenous, and their influence on society is enormous and must be exerted responsibly. In recent years, Vincenti has worked to further the history of engineering as an important subfield of the history of technology. Vincenti's awards include a Gold Medalist Pi-Tau-Sigma (1948), a Rockefeller Public Service Award (1956), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1963), and an Usher Prize (1984).

Bibliographic information