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engineers were able to secure not only far more than their pro rata share of the work involved, but practically all the important jobs for several years. The hold that they then secured on the engineering work of the world has never since been broken; although, as the European countries commenced to recuperate, their engineers began to get their organizations into better shape, thus reducing somewhat the preponderating influence of the American technicists.
Another reason for that preponderance is that after stupidly doing practically nothing to secure the trade of Latin-America for several years after the war started in Europe, the American bankers, manufacturers and business men finally awoke to the fact that their golden opportunity had arrived, consequently they bestirred themselves and became firmly established in Central and South America, and to a lesser degree in China, before the European manufacturers could get fairly well started again. The smaller success in China was due to the foresight and energy of the Japanese, who established themselves securely in that country while the fighting was still going on. tematic and combined efforts of American bankers, manufacturers, business men and engineers, applied at the psychological time when nearly all the other peoples of the world were exhausted physically, mentally and financially, resulted ultimately in making the United States the great creditor nation, the American dollar the universal unit of value, and New York City the world's money-center.
In making this retrospect I have been forcibly struck by the greatly increased personal effectiveness of the individual engineer of to-day as compared with that of the individual engineer of the previous half-century. By effectiveness I refer to the extent of the valuable work that a man accomplishes in his entire lifetime. To-day the effectiveness of a high-grade engineer is fully three times as large as it was fifty years ago. For this there have been several causes, among which may be mentioned longevity, education, economics, research, development of a spirit of loyalty, governmental restriction of wasted effort, cessation of war, systematization of technical literature, and increase in number and sizes of technical libraries. I shall take up in the above order and discuss each of these causes.
LONGEVITY Thanks to the efforts and hard study of biologists, surgeons and physicians, the ordinary limiting life of man has increased from the biblical three score years and ten to a full century. The studies of the biologists, combined with the coercive work of the Bureau of Sanitation at Washington, have resulted in cutting down nearly to zero the death-roll from all insect-borne diseases, such as typhus fever, malaria, yellow fever, bubonic plague, hookworm, meningitis and mountain fever, as well as other scourges such as smallpox, pellagra, typhoid fever, cholera and leprosy.
The iron hand of the law, combined with a forced enlightenment of the public of all ages and both sexes through the newspapers and the schools, has succeeded in reducing the evil effects of venereal or vice diseases to a very small fraction of their former virulence.
The investigations of the dietetists have taught humanity how best to eat, drink and exercise, not only so as to prolong life but also so as to enjoy it by the possession of good health; and the schools of all grades have taught these doctrines so thoroughly that the unscientific eating and drinking of three or four decades ago is now exceedingly rare. The almost universal adoption of the practise by physicians of giving preventive medicine, instead of trying to overcome disease after it has secured a hold on the patient, has resulted in materially increasing longevity and improving the status of the general health of the community.
The total prohibition of liquor by the federal government in the third decade of the century added, on the average, six years to the life of those men who, otherwise, would have been steady drinkers, besides cutting down crime, profligacy and insanity.
The neutralization of both sexes for crime, insanity, feeblemindedness and bad cases of venereal disease not only has reduced by seventy-five per cent., in a single generation, the number of criminals, lunatics and idiots, but also has had a noticeable effect on the increase in longevity.
While the efforts of certain scientists to prohibit the use of tobacco have proved to be a failure, as far as the populace is concerned, they have succeeded in convincing thinking men that the effect of nicotine on the system is to reduce materially one's mental acumen; consequently a very large percentage of the scientists and engineers of to-day do not use the weed. As a direct result of this there is a small but quite appreciable augmenting of their individual output.
The stamping out of diseases and the increase in longevity have had a double effect upon the improvement of the engineering profession; for not only has each engineer now a greater number of years than formerly to devote to his work; but also his general health is so much better that he can accomplish much more per hour and can work more hours per day than he did in previous years. It has been noticed, too, that there is a more widespread love for work and mental effort among engineers of all lines and classes than there used to be; and this is very properly attributable to their better general condition of health. Again, if one were to plot the annual effective accomplishment of the average engineer of the present period, it would be seen that the amount continues to increase almost to the time of death, instead of reaching a maximum long before then, as used to be the case half a century ago. By the term “annual effective accomplishment” I do not mean either the number of hours per year that an individual can work or the yearly amount of useful labor that one man can do, but the results that are attained annually through his direction and advice based upon his accumulated experience, and, especially, upon his knowledge of engineering economics.
EDUCATION During the last fifty years there have been many fundamental improvements in both general and technical education, and these have had much to do with the increased effectiveness of engineers. In the common schools it has been found practicable, without overworking the children, to improve their mentality and increase their knowledge many fold, simply by adopting scientific methods of imparting instruction and by employing a much higher grade of teachers than was customary forty or fifty years ago. In the old days there seemed to be a notion prevalent that if a man or woman were a failure at most things, he or she would do well enough for a teacher, and that there was no need for paying high salaries to instructors. To-day an entirely different view is held, for now teachers as a class are about the best paid people in the community; and their standing therein is second to none.
The most important and fundamental accomplishment in education has been teaching pupils how to think and how, when studying, to concentrate their minds, rather than cramming their memories with a mass of facts, many of which are of doubtful value on account of being subject to change.
The study of vocational fitness of both children and adults which was inaugurated in the early twenties, and which required a full decade to establish as an economic necessity, has done much to improve engineering by preventing the unfit from entering its ranks.
In respect to technical education, thanks to the Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education, it may be stated that the methods governing it have been fundamentally changed. In the old days many insufficiently trained young men, and many who were intellectually and temperamentally unfit, were allowed to enter the technical schools, where during a period of four years they were stuffed with facts ad nauseam, with the result that the graduates were not deep thinkers; besides which, they were sadly deficient in those lines of education which were not purely technical. They were, in short, highly trained human machines, capable of earning a living in the employ of some large manufacturing or contracting company, but incompetent either to take their places as worthy citizens, or to originate things of real value by concentrated mental effort.
After many experiments and failures, it was learned that engineering cannot be taught in a four-year course, and that an engineer's education should cover many studies besides those of pure technics. Again, it was learned that it is bad policy to try to train all engineering students for the same ultimate object, because some men will do well as subordinates and others as leaders and originators. The ultimate solution of the problem of technical education was the establishment of three kinds of technical schools, viz., trade-schools for the rank and file, or for those who by their individual limitations are doomed to mediocrity; broad engineering courses for good students, teaching them thoroughly mathematics, the humanities, economics, elementary technics and general culture; and postgraduate schools for the best of the technical graduates, giving elaborate instruction in both the theory and the practise of the various special lines of work. The result is that the profession is now well supplied with capable "hewers of wood and drawers of water"; that there is turned out annually a large number of highly cultured and broad-gauge young men who are drilled in the elements of technics, who are well fitted to begin service in almost any line of activity, and who will be able to advance rapidly therein; and that there is an adequate number of specially trained technicists who can at once successfully fill important positions.
ECONOMICS Up to the beginning of the third decade of the century, but little attention had been paid by engineers in general or by instructors in engineering to the important subject of "Economics." It is true that the leading American engineers had individually studied deeply into the matter when making their
designs, and that a few of the technical writers (especially in bridge subjects) had touched upon the question; but it was not until 1915, when the Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education appointed a special committee on “The Study of Economics in Technical Schools," that a systematic effort was made to devote due attention in such schools to that fundamentally important feature of engineering. The result of the committee's report, which was presented in 1917, was ultimately the publication under the auspices of that Society of an elaborate treatise on “The Economics of Engineering," written by a large number of specialists in all lines of technical activity. This book served as a basis for the preparation of other works more suited to students' use; and the study of economics in all the technical schools of the country was soon thereafter undertaken in earnest, with the result that to-day all engineering projects are much more economically handled in respect to both design and construction than they used to be. I might mention that in the accomplishment of this great desideratum our Academy cooperated most effectively with the Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education.
Incidentally, it might be stated that the economics of engineers' time and effort have been made the subject of much deep thought, and that important results have been accomplished thereby through time-and-labor-saving devices such as the sliderule, the pantagraph, the integrating machine and numerous other mechanical computers, through systematization of the individual's work and the avoidance of duplication in investigations, and through the thorough checking of all calculations and plans before work thereunder proceeds.
The compulsory introduction of the metric system of weights and measures about the end of the third decade of the century, while at first proving to be a hardship and an expense to most people, and especially to engineers, eventually became a great time-saver for all computers.
As a side-issue in the matter of economics, I might mention that, over forty years ago, the federal government, as a matter of political economy, undertook the storage of grain and other food products so as to carry over the surplus from the years of plenty to the years of scarcity, and thus to equalize both the earnings of the producer and the general cost of living. Large grain bins and cold-storage plants were built and operated by the government in all parts of the country; and the result of the movement has been eminently satisfactory. Parenthetically, I might state that this step inaugurated a campaign of ex