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    Engineering Education : its Early Beginnings

     
     
     

    Engineering education, unlike other types of professional education, has not had a long history.

    Though the ancients and medievals had built large brick and stone houses, castles, cities and huge temples, bad constructed long highways and aqueducts and dug canals, which show considerable knowledge of what are now earned civil and hydraulic engineering and of properties of building materials, this knowledge must have been derived empirically.

    Beginnings of mechanical engineering are to be found in the manufacture and use, of tools, means of transport, simple machinery like lathes, and weapons of offence and defense. Rudiments of chemical engineering are to be seen in the old metallurgical practices.

    But there were no organised schools for teaching apprentices the use of machinery or knowledge of processes; knowledge passed from generation to generation of craftsmen and artificers, by word of mouth, and was thus confined to castes and guilds.

    The Industrial Revolution With the advent of the Industrial Age, which was ushered in by the discovery of the steam engine by James Watt about 1780, and the ability to, generate and to handle large amounts of power rendered possible by the invention of the steam engine, men passed from dependence on human labour and hand tools to large and complicated machinery ; production of commodities passed from cottage workshops to factories.

    Transportation by bullock-carts, horse-driven carriages, and wind or man driven boats, gave way to railroads and steamships. All this necessitated the construction of large machines, engines, ships and carriages, and gave rise to problems of industrial finance and labour.

    Early Engineering School in Europe-While inventive genius was called upon to devise new kinds of machines and to handle new types of processes, the craftsmen and artisans were called upon to put these designs into actual practice. They were asked to test and handle these machines and to repair them whenever necessary.

    The engineer was thus evolved from two different streams- first from the artisans and craftsmen on one side, who belonged to the lower orders of the less specialised society of the last century, and on the other side from the genteel class who had knowledge of sciences, and had acquired habits of disciplined and organised thinking.

    Sometimes the two types merged in the same person i.e. the craftsman taught himself science, and learnt to think and invent, (e.g., James Watt); or the man with scientific definite objective 9 e.g., Sadi Carnot). .......continued.....

     
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