Laws of Engineering

The College of Charleston bought a 3D printer.  The Computer Science  Department Chair Sebastian van Delden had to send out an email containing this message.

“There will be absolutely no 3D printing of objects that remotely resemble weapons (guns, knives, etc) using the department’s 3D printers.  I have confiscated the print job that was running last night.  If you feel yourself asking yourself the question ‘I wonder if this is an appropriate print job?’ then stop right there, because that’s how you know it is not.”

I wonder if van Delden is Social Justice Warrior pantywaist or if he enjoys pissing into the wind.

I spent 11 years of my life in various engineering department.  Here is one observed law of engineering I noticed:

If you ask a group of 20 engineers to break into teams of two, and do any design project they want, you will get nine catapults and trebuchets and one bridge.

Being a material scientist, in every general materials science course I ever took, when the professor gave the assignment: do an X minute long presentation about an engineered material for a specific application (which is a common assignment).  You are guaranteed to get at least one presentation on  the following subjects: golf clubs, compound bows, gun barrels, race car components.

Even the word “engineer” comes from weaponry.  The word engineer means “constructor of an engine” and the original engines were war engines (also known as siege engines), meaning catapults, ballistas, and other machines for breaching fortifications.

Trying to stop engineers from building anything that looks like a weapon is both futile and an affront to the origin of our profession.

7 Replies to “Laws of Engineering”

  1. Another immutable law of engineering: if you tell 20 engineers (or students) that they are not allowed to do something for arbitrary reasons, within a week you’ll have 30 items that either exploit a loophole, or outright defy the edict arrayed on your desk.




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  2. The secret motive for switching to engineering school from architecture (best major change ever) was that I might be able to design firearms eventually.

    And that plan actually worked.

    The other motive was that I realized I can’t sell bullshit well enough to be on the “artist” side of designing things, so I went into the side that has math to back us up.




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  3. I mean, if we want to get technical about it, trebuchets and catapults are way more interesting than bridges, and in addition to everything bridges display, they involve dynamic loading and precision timing.




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  4. I wonder how this bluenose feels about 3d printing phalli, since my son’s freshman engineering work included programming Matlab to draw a giant phallus made up of many little ones.
    I see a conflict between the general tendency to crush anything resembling fun versus the popular “cocks not Glocks” meme, which we can only hope causes a burst aneurysm and a glimmer of hope that this bozo is replaced by someone with an iota of perspective.




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