A Century of Innovation: Twenty Engineering Achievements that Transformed Our Lives
George Constable, Bob Somerville
Joseph Henry Press, Jan 1, 2003 - Technology & Engineering - 248 pages
The scope and speed of technological change during the past 100 years have been astonishing. In large part we must credit the world's engineers with these advances. To recognize the most influential of their accomplishments, the National Academy of Engineering has compiled the 20 greatest engineering achievements of the 20th century. While one might expect the list to be a catalog of momentous and highly visible engineering feats like the moon landing, the lineup is largely composed of more commonplace advances that ultimately had a profound and widespread effect. Indeed, most of the items on the list are so much a part of our lives that we hardly stop to think about them. At the very top of the list is electrification. More than half of the "Top 20" would not have been possible without it. Electrification changed America's economic development and gave the rural population the same opportunities and amenities as people in the cities. If anything shines as an example of how engineering has changed the world, it is clearly electric power. Each achievement is covered individually in separate chapters, structured so that there is a full history of the engineering achievement as well as a description of the impact it had on our lives. Accompanying each chapter is a "Perspective" written by a notable engineer connected with the achievement. Among others, Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, writes for the chapter on computers; Kent Kresa, CEO and chairman of Northrop Grumman, writes for the chapter on airplanes; and Dr. E. Linn Draper, Jr., chairman, president, and CEO of American Electric Power, writes on electrification. Complete with photographs and drawings, the drama of invention anddiscovery is brought vividly to life.
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