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 yours as well. Reading the best engineering books that discuss various topics within the field or related fields will bolster your knowledge, help you learn new skills and understand different perspectives.

No matter where you are on your engineering journey, one of the engineering books below will fit your 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?

Fill Your Bookshelf in 2022

If you’re looking to grow your knowledge around engineering or technological development, these books are worth your time. Anyone with an engineering background or an inventive spirit will enjoy reading these titles. Consider filling your bookshelf with some of the best engineering books in 2022.

Revolutionized is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more here.

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