1.1 Why Write This Book?
Most aspiring engineers would like to see their name attached to a product, such as a car or plane, or a structure, such as a building or bridge – they want to make their mark. In the early stages of their careers, their contribution might just be a minor element of the whole; later, they would hope to take the lead, possibly even emulating Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Sir Frank Whittle, or Steve Jobs. But how does a product get from the glimmer of an idea to the finished item?
This book is concerned with the way that new research and technology ideas are converted into products that can be manufactured and sold to satisfied customers. Its emphasis is on engineered products but the principles can be applied more widely. It might be thought that this subject would already have extensive coverage, given that engineering has been taught in European countries as a degree‐level subject for over 200 years.
École Polytechnique in Paris, for example, was set up in 1794 specifically to address, amongst other things, the dearth of qualified engineers at that time (Ref. 1). The University of Glasgow was the first in the United Kingdom to set up a school of engineering with the appointment of Lewis Gordon (1815–1876) as Regius Professor of Civil Engineering and Mechanics at the University. He was in the post from 1840 until 1855, when he resigned to pursue his successful business interests – thus providing an early demonstration of the economic value of ...