Trivia Answer Page

Happy Engineer's Week!

 

National Engineer's Week was started in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers in conjunction with President George Washington's birthday. President Washington is considered as the nation's first engineer, notably for his survey work. Prior to the start of National Engineers Week, the University of Missouri College of Engineering began celebrating the world's first Engineers' Week in 1903, 48 years before the National Society of Professional Engineers, with St. Patrick as the patron Saint of engineers.

Question

​Name the U.S. president who studied geology at Stanford (before engineering was a profession) and earned his fortune as a mining engineer.

Answer

Herbert Hoover. Hoover wrote most eloquently regarding engineering as a profession. In his later life, he was often called upon to speak about it, including one such speech at Columbia University on November 7, 1951. There, he opened by saying he was once a visiting lecturer at Columbia: ‘I gave a course of lectures that had all the wit of calculus, the humor of a trilobite, and the joyousness of thermodynamics.’

 

Hoover explained the role played by American universities in elevating engineering from a trade learned via apprenticeships and secondary technical schools to a profession demanding rigorous years of university training. Despite the dignity inherent in the profession, Hoover notes that engineering has both joys and sorrows. 

 

‘The engineer has the fascination of watching a figment of his imagination emerge with the aid of science to a plan on paper. Then it moves to realization in cement, metal or energy. Then it brings new jobs and homes to men. Then it adds to the security and comfort of those homes. That is the engineer’s high privilege among professions.

 

The profession, however, does have woes. The engineer’s work is out in the open where all men can see it. If he makes a mistake, he cannot, like the doctor, bury it in a grave. He cannot, like the architect, obscure it by trees and ivy. He cannot, like the lawyer, blame it on the judge or jury. He cannot, like the politician, claim his constituents demanded it. Nor can he, like the public official, change the name of it and hope the voters will forget. Unlike the clergyman, he cannot blame it on the devil.

 

Worse still, if his works do not work, he is damned….  but the engineer himself looks back at the unending stream of goodness that flows from his successes with a satisfaction that few other professions can know.”

 

Poetic words from Hoover on his chosen profession, tinged with humor and pride.

 

Happy Engineering Week!

Herbert Hoover was the 31st U.S. president who also had an engineering background.

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