• 4 minutes Pompeo: Aramco Attacks Are An "Act Of War" By Iran
  • 7 minutes Who Really Benefits From The "Iran Attacked Saudi Arabia" Narrative?
  • 11 minutes Trump Will Win In 2020
  • 15 minutes Experts review Saudi damage photos. Say Said is need to do a lot of explaining.
  • 12 hours Iran Vows Major War Even If US Conducts "Limited Strikes"
  • 10 hours Europe: The Cracks Are Beginning To Show
  • 11 hours Memorize date 05/15/2018 cause Huawei ban is the most important single event in world history after 9/11/2001.
  • 45 mins Ethanol, the Perfect Home Remedy for A Saudi Oil Fever
  • 6 mins Hong Kong protesters appeal to Trump for support.
  • 58 mins Millennials: A boil on the butt of the work ethic
  • 27 mins A little something for all you Offshore swabbies
  • 7 hours Ban Fracking? What in the World Are Democrats Thinking?
  • 11 hours LA Times: Vote Trump out in 2020 to Prevent Climate Apocalypse
  • 9 hours When Trying To Be Objective About Ethanol, Don't Include Big Oil Lies To Balance The Argument
  • 2 hours Saudi State-of-Art Defense System looking the wrong way. MBS must fire Defense Minister. Oh, MBS is Defense Minister. Forget about it.
  • 2 hours Shale profitability
  • 10 hours US and China are already in a full economic war and this battle for global hegemony is a little bit frightening
  • 20 hours Yawn... Parliament Poised to Force Brexit Delay Until Jan. 31
  • 7 hours Let's shut down dissent like The Conversation in Australia
Alt Text

Houthis Threaten More Attacks In The Middle East

The Houthi rebels have threatened…

Alt Text

The Restoration Scenarios For Saudi Oil Supply

After the largest supply disruption…

Alt Text

Oil Markets Are One Outage Away From Crisis

Traders are still trying to…

Llewellyn King

Llewellyn King

Llewellyn King is the executive producer and host of "White House Chronicle" on PBS. His e-mail address is lking@kingpublishing.com

More Info

Premium Content

Engineers Are Now Wearing the Poet's Mantle

F. Scott Fitzgerald supposedly told Ernest Hemingway, “The rich are different from you and me.” And Hemingway supposedly replied, “Yes, they have more money.”

Engineers are different from the rest of us. Sometime around the middle of the 20th century, they assumed the poetic mantle that writers had once worn.

In today's world engineers can dream, embrace the future, and comfort us with the notion that everything can be fixed. Well, almost everything; except, perhaps, the human condition.

One could measure easily the difference between engineers and the rest of us in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. While we feared for the Japanese and other populations, engineers — and I have canvassed dozens — were full of praise for how the reactors had performed during the earthquake.

Marc Goldsmith, an MIT-trained engineer from Newton, Mass., said, “Everything worked as designed in the earthquake. At 9 on the Richter scale, the reactors shut down as planned; emergency systems went into operation and engineering triumphed.”

What?

Yes, Goldsmith is adamant. The reactors, he said, survived an extraordinary earthquake like shock-resistant watches. It was the tsunami that did them in, destroying all fall-back power systems, including the diesel generators. Yet the 40-year-old reactors did what they were designed to do: They shut down.

The spirit of engineering as the poetic best hope for the creative, competitive future is to be found in engineering pure plays like PaR Systems, Inc., the bespoke engineering company based in Shoreview, Minn., near Saint Paul-Minneapolis. This company, relatively small with a few hundred employees and a blue-chip client list, epitomizes the idea of engineering with a poetic dimension and a mission to overcome failure, as in the work they are doing to help secure the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site in Ukraine; overcome complex and difficult crane installations; or simply to overcome the labor intensity and boredom of putting cans of food into cartons for delivery.

Overcoming is their ethos; clever robots, their pride. PaR chief technology officer, Albert A. Sturm, accepts the idea of poet-in-chief but believes that unlike poets of old, writing alone, the engineer-poet needs a team of engineering and related disciplines, and what he calls “a culture of creativity.”

Mostly, PaR is called in when nothing short of towering imagination and superb design and implementation will do; so they are less fettered by the need to “do it cheaply.”

President Mark A. Wrightsman says that since PaR went private some years ago, they have been saved from the tyranny of quarterly results. “If we were to go public again, I would not issue market predictions,” he says.

Two shadows pass across the countenance of engineering as mankind's friend and benefactor, disturbing the serenity of the world of logarithms, CADS (computer-aided designs) and micro-tolerances: design error and human error. If a bridge fails, blame the engineers for its faulty design or substandard materials. More often, the deadly foe of good systems is to blame: human error.

That was the case with the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico: people cutting corners and hoping for the best. Humans failing engineering. It also was human error that led to the meltdown at Three Mile Island; and human error that caused a miracle of engineering, the Airbus A380 superjumbo jet, to clip a small Bombardier aircraft at Kennedy Airport in New York.

As Douglas Adams wrote, “A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools”

Yet engineers remain more hopeful than most people. They peer into the future, and where we see chaos and shortage, they see wonderful systems and plenty. Vive la difference.

By. Llewellyn King

Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of “White House Chronicle” on PBS. His e-mail is lking@kingpublishing.com




Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage



Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News
Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play