Civil Engineering: A Very Short Introduction

David Muir Wood

Nearly everything we do involves engineering, from the homes we live into the highways and trains we use to get around to the telephones, computers, and X-ray machines that aid medical professionals in disease diagnosis. In this Very Short Introduction, David Blockley examines the nature of engineering, its application, and its connections to art, craft, science, and technology. As he describes the five ages of engineering—gravity, heat, electromagnetism, information, and systems—and how they relate to one another, he starts with its early origins, going from Archimedes to some of the great engineers like Brunel and Marconi, all the way up to the present. Blockley uses instances of commonplace instruments to demonstrate how engineering truly functions while discussing some of engineering’s greatest successes and failures, such as when things went disastrously wrong at Chornobyl. He also considers some of the future contributions engineers will need to make to maintain and advance human wellbeing.