10-books-for-engineers

10 Best Engineering Books for 2022

August 30, 2022 - Revolutionized Team

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In 2015, someone asked Elon Musk how he taught himself so much about rocket science. His answer? “I read books.” Musk says he once read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica at age nine.

Musk believes that reading books helped shape his career — and they can help shape a budding engineer’s as well. Reading the best engineering books that discuss various topics within the field or related fields will bolster knowledge, teach new skills and understand different perspectives. No matter where engineers are on their journey, one of the engineering books below will fit their needs.

1. To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design by Henry Petroski

Henry Petroski is an American engineer, prolific author and a professor of civil engineering and history at Duke University. His research interests include structural engineering, design, the nature of inventions and success and failure in design. 

In his book, Petroski discusses multiple design cases that, unfortunately, failed. Examples include the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel, among other lesser-known instances. Many believe this is one of the best engineering books out there.

2. The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

Cognitive scientist and usability engineer Don Norman describes the importance of human-centered design in this book. Norman questions why some products satisfy customers and others frustrate them. Norman suggests that design is the communication between the object and the user and how to optimize that communication for the user’s benefit.

More often than not, people blame themselves when a product malfunctions. However, Norman believes that it’s not the user’s fault but rather the lack of intuitive guidance that designs should offer. Readers will learn about case studies that describe the psychology behind a good and bad design and some of Norman’s design principles.

3. Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down by J.E. Gordon

According to Business Insider, this book is one of the 14 books that inspired Elon Musk. J.E. Gordon was a professor at the University of Reading and known for his research in crystals, plastics and new materials. His book uses an informal approach to explain how basic forces hold together essential things in our world. 

Gordon uses humor in his chapter titles, such as “How to Design a Worm” and “The Advantage of Being a Beam.” The book uses common language to describe the concepts of stress, torsion, fracture, shear and compression without oversimplifying them. It’s definitely one of the best engineering books for professionals and readers new to the field.

4. The Existential Pleasures of Engineering by Samuel C. Florman

American civil engineer Samuel C. Florman explores how engineers think and feel about their profession. He discusses the myth that engineering is cold and passionless. Contrastingly, Florman celebrates the field of engineering and explains his belief that engineering is a response to our deepest human impulses.

Engineers of all ages and disciplines can benefit from this book because it’s a deep dive into the philosophy of engineering and its role in society. Readers will likely walk away with a feeling of pride in their engineering careers.

5. Built: The Hidden Stories Behind Our Structures by Roma Agrawal

Roma Agrawal, a structural engineer who worked on The Shard in London, explores the evolution of engineering. She describes how we’ve transitioned from mud huts to steel skyscrapers. She celebrates engineers who have accomplished major feats like bridging the deepest, widest rivers and tunneling through solid mountains. 

Agrawal also discusses the secrets behind some of the most famous structures in the world, like the Eiffel Tower and Pantheon. Additionally, she examines engineering failures that led to tragedy, such as the collapse of the Quebec Bridge. The book also highlights the importance of safety at every step of the engineering and construction processes. 

6. Engineering and the Mind’s Eye by Eugene S. Ferguson

Eugene S. Ferguson was an American engineer, historian of technology and a history professor at the University of Delaware. He’s well known for this book, where he suggests that intuition and nonverbal thinking are just as important in engineering as solving equations and computations. 

Ferguson argues that engineering education systems that fail to address nonverbal thinking are problematic. These systems could produce ignorant engineers that lack knowledge of how the real world differs from mathematics and science topics. Art and practical design are important factors in engineering but are sometimes ignored. Ferguson suggests that practical experience and the ability to sketch are two essential components of engineering that must not be forgotten.

7. Applied Minds: How Engineers Think by Guru Madhavan

Guru Madhavan, a senior program officer and study director at the National Academies, wrote this book to explore engineers’ visions and mental tools to overcome enormous engineering feats. Madhavan’s main theme in Applied Minds is that engineers have a certain mindset to turn problems into opportunities.

The author uses various case studies to support his theme and discusses the origins of widely used technologies, including the ATM, laser scanners, UPC bar codes and mobile telephony. Whether you’re an aspiring or practicing engineer, you’ll have something to take away from this award-winning book.

8. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

Elon Musk has not only read a plethora of books but now has one written about him. Ashlee Vance takes readers through the spectacle of Musk’s life and work. For instance, readers learn about Musk’s upbringing in South Africa, his journey to Canada and the United States and his innovations and work as an entrepreneur. 

Vance uses Musk’s story to ask if the U.S. is capable of competing in a fiercely competitive global age. Vance suggests that Musk can be compared to some of the most famous inventors, including Thomas Edison, Howard Hughes and Steve Jobs. Engineers interested in learning more about Elon Musk will not be disappointed after reading this book.

9. New Thinking: From Einstein to Artificial Intelligence, The Technology and Science That Built Our World

Dagogo Altraide, the founder of YouTube channel ColdFusion, wrote New Thinking to explore history’s greatest technological breakthroughs and how they will shape the future. Altraide’s book is about human innovation and uncovers some hidden secrets about famous inventions that we still use today.

Based on reviews from readers, Altraide’s book is easy to read, concise and fascinating, just like the content on his YouTube channel. It’s a good read for anyone interested in technological development, engineering and invention and how they connect to current trends. 

10. The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything by Matthew Ball

Matthew Ball, CEO of Epyllion Industries, will release his book The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything in July 2022. The metaverse is a buzzword dominating news headlines and shaping policy platforms — but what exactly is the metaverse?

Ball takes a deep dive into the metaverse, mentions how proto-metaverses, such as Fortnite and Roblox, already exist and explores some of the technology that will power the metaverse, also called the “next internet.” Ball’s book clarifies the widely misunderstood concept, its potential value and how it will radically reshape society. How will the metaverse impact the future of the engineering field?

11. 101 Things I Learned in Engineering School by John Kuprenas and Matthew Frederick

Engineering students should consider reading 101 Things I Learned in Engineering School, written by John Kuprenas in collaboration with Matthew Frederick. According to the book’s official website, it serves as a “life raft” for those learning engineering. It presents clear, concise lessons on how engineering thinking explains — and sometimes cannot explain — aspects of the real world.

There are both simple and complex engineering lessons in this book. This makes it one of the best engineering books for students at any level can benefit from Kuprenas and Frederick’s work. It’s more of an informative book than anything else, but one that provides fresh perspectives on some of the industry’s most fundamental principles.

12. How to Fail At Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

Like any other professional, engineers sometimes need helpful career advice and Scott Adams’ How to Fail At Almost Everything and Still Win Big offers just that. Adams — the creator of the famous cartoon Dilbert — faced many career challenges before developing the recognizable comic strip series.

Adams shares the game plan he followed, which includes three steps — invite failure in, embrace it, then pick its pocket. There’s much to learn from his personal story and some entertaining aspects to keep learners engaged.

13. An Engineer’s Guide to Solving Problems by Bob Schmidt

This book is excellent for engineering students beginning their working careers. Entering the real world of engineering can be strenuous for some engineering students. According to Schmidt, there could be infinite solutions to the complex problems engineers face daily.

An Engineer’s Guide to Solving Problems outlined five methods to help students set themselves up for success:

  • Questions everyone must answer to become a problem solver
  • The most and least valuable ways to communicate ideas
  • Six warnings to heed when potentially having the right solution
  • Innovative ways to see what others miss
  • Learning the right tools

Fresh graduates or entry-level engineers should consider reading Schmidt’s work.

14. Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark

MIT professor Max Tegmark wrote this New York Times Bestselling book, published in 2017. Tegmark asks essential questions regarding the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI), such as, “How will AI impact war, crime and justice?” and “What career advice should we give today’s kids?”

Explore the ins and outs of AI and its effects on society in Life 3.0. The novel doesn’t shy away from controversial discussions, such as the essence of human consciousness, superintelligence and meaning. Consider diving into this read to discover more about AI and how it will transform the future of technology.

15. Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan

Last but not least is Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan. Cagan explores how major tech giants become popular and keep customers returning for repeat purchases. A seasoned tech product management thought leader, Cagan delivers helpful advice for engineers looking to craft technology products customers love and help a business thrive.

Cagan includes a few personal stories about his career but also profiles some of today’s most successful, driven product managers from companies like Netflix, BBC, Google, Apple and Microsoft.

Fill Your Bookshelf With the Best Engineering Books

If engineers want to grow their knowledge in their field or technological development, these books are worth the time. Anyone with an engineering background or an inventive spirit will enjoy reading these titles. Consider filling a bookshelf with some of the best engineering books this year.

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