[EAS]The Manual Arts

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Wed Sep 3 01:35:15 EDT 2003

Subject:   The Manual Arts

That's the title of a recent John Lienhard "Engines of our
Ingenuity" episode, brought to my attention by colleague Bob Grober.


I couldn't agree more, because I see the toll among our students.
Improvement in 3-D conceptualization comes from physically working
in 3-D in an orderly learning environment, not by simulating
it. The decline in visual imagination is quite alarming. (I'm
talking about the design of manufacturable items, not video games.)

A former neighbor of mine, a classically trained mechanical engineer
from Germany, specialized in machines for the wire industry. Huge
things as long as my house. He would design the entire machine in
his head, and then start drawing it by hand (in India ink!) on four
large concatenated drafting boards. He could envision the whole
machine, working.

At the same time that he still made me marvel at his skills,
technicians at companies where I'd consult were lovingly rotating an
angle-bracket in full color in Auto-CAD. Sigh.


P.S.: The hiatus in EAS-INFO mailings was mostly due to my annual
exercise in tranquility in the Northwoods of Maine. No email, most
of the time not even electricity. Now that the semester has started,
I'll still have ample distractions, but I hope to be back in my
curmudgeonly groove by later September. The world certainly hasn't
gotten more perfect since before my vacation.

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