Engineers are among the most influential professionals in our communities. They shape neighborhoods with their structures and their services. They create jobs for people and jumpstart economic activities. They bring farfetched ideas to life and improve on existing ideas to make them much better and much more efficient. They are among the people who ignite change in society. Many people look up to them as inspirations, as leaders, as pillars of society.
Little do people know that being an engineer is a demanding and tough task. It is not for mere men to become engineers as it takes the best and brightest minds to be able to come up with innovations and advancements that would stand the test of time. It demands the best and does not settle for anything but the best because as any good engineer worth his salt would know, in his hands lay the future of society.
We have compiled several civil engineering quotes that underscore how important a role engineering plays in our daily lives. These quotes are taken from several specializations but truly emphasize how engineers shape the future one day at a time.
Here are the “Top 15 Best Civil Engineering Quotes That Every Engineer Can Follow and Share”
1. Herbert Hoover was the 31st President of the United States of America and an engineer to boot. Ivy League educated (having graduated from Stanford University), we served as the voice of reason during the Great Depression. Although many of his policies may have been defeated by market forces beyond his control, he did his best to prop the economy through his initiatives in engineering and labor-related issues.
“It is a great profession. There is the fascination of watching a figment of the imagination emerge through the aid of science to a plan on paper. Then it moves to realization in stone or metal or energy. Then it brings jobs and homes to men. Then it elevates the standards of living and adds to the comforts of life. That is the engineer’s high privilege.” By Herbert Hoover
2. This quote attributed to Hoover puts engineers to an exalted position as they are known to be movers of ideas and of men. They instigate change and development, spurring economic upheaval and activity that affects lives in a positive way. This is in essence a call to every engineer to stay the course plotted by their forebears.
“The great liability of the engineer compared to men of other professions is that his works are out in the open where all can see them. His acts, step by step, are in hard substance. He cannot bury his mistakes in the grave like the doctors. He cannot argue them into thin air or blame the judge like the lawyers. He cannot, like the architects, cover his failures with trees and vines. He cannot, like the politicians, screen his shortcomings by blaming his opponents and hope the people will forget. The engineer simply cannot deny he did it. If his works do not work, he is damned.” By Herbert Hoover
As another memorable quote from Hoover, the quotation underscores how important the work of an engineer is – how a perfectionist he must be because his work must stand the different ravages imposed by time. He cannot let himself settle for subpar performance because a misstep in his calculations and his decision would mean disaster. He cannot be lax, he cannot be complacent – he has to be at his best all the time.
3. Where others see failure, Henry Petroski sees an opportunity – to learn, to make things better, to become much more. The engineering professor at Duke University and a renowned author himself, his thoughts regarding failure analysis in engineering is in the same vein as Thomas Alva Edison’s thinking of failure – he might have failed a thousand times but he also realized how not to do it a thousand times – as opportunities for growth.
“Engineers are not superhuman. They make mistakes in their assumptions, in their calculations, in their conclusions. That they make mistakes is forgivable; that they catch them is imperative. Thus it is the essence of modern engineering not only to be able to check one’s own work but also to have one’s work checked and to be able to check the work of others.” By Henry Petroski
4. The next quote is from someone who really needs no introduction as he is one of the most popular people of all time – Albert Einstein. A theoretical physicist, he realized that engineers are in a way better than scientists – as they make things happen and create things that make life easier.
“Scientists investigate that which already is; Engineers create that which has never been.” By Albert Einstein
5. Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist by trade but has made some contributions to the field of engineering with his ingenious ideas. A Harvard University graduate and a member of the prestigious University of California Berkeley faculty, Kaku certainly states that no matter how impossible things may look now, it is only a matter of time before one can make the solutions to the problems presented.
“What we usually consider as impossible are simply engineering problems… there’s no law of physics preventing them.” By Michio Kaku
6. Our next quotation comes from the other half of the world-class and world-renowned brand Rolls-Royce – Henry Royce, engineer par excellence. He was one of the pioneers who improved on the design of motor cars to make them much more efficient.
“Take the best that exists and make it better.” By Henry Royce
7. Ove Arup is one of the most popular and recognized engineers of all time. Knighted and revered for his exploits in bomb shelter design, he also became one of the prime movers that shaped our global landscape. He was a pivotal member of the team that conceptualized the Sydney Opera House and the Kingsgate Bridge.
“Engineering problems are under-defined, there are many solutions, good, bad and indifferent. The art is to arrive at a good solution. This is a creative activity, involving imagination, intuition and deliberate choice.” By Ove Arup
His quote essentially tells us that there are no strict procedures to be followed in solving engineering problems. There are several ways that you can go with but the point is to choose the best and the most accurate solution that would withstand the test of time. This is one of the nicest civil engineering quotes ever written.
8. On the other hand, Lyon Sprague de Camp may not have been an engineer (he was a science fiction writer – but come to think of it, the parallelisms are impeccable) but he did give us a quote that specially mentioned the importance of being an engineer for society as a whole. He also wrote a book titled The Ancient Engineers which chronicled engineering feats and marvels from early history to the modern era.
“The story of civilization is, in a sense, the story of engineering – that long and arduous struggle to make the forces of nature work for man’s good.” By Lyon Sprague de Camp
His quote is a simplification of what engineering does – to meld and work with the forces of nature to create long-lasting monuments as testaments to man’s skills and knowledge.
9. Jack Kilby, meanwhile, is a Nobel Prize laureate for Physics awarded in 2000. He holds patents to several inventions that we use on a daily basis – the handheld calculator and the thermal printers are among them. His quote tells the broad truth about engineering – how a concept materializes and gets worked on over and over again until it is mastered and perfected to give it the best iteration.
“It’s true that the original idea was mine, but what you see today is the work of probably tens of thousands of the world’s best engineers, all concentrating on improving the product, reducing the cost, things of that sort.” By Jack Kilby
10. Christian Cantrell is a software engineer who underscores the importance of creating simple and user-friendly products to achieve success. His take on making things as simple as possible without any of the complications underscores how broad a thinker an engineer must be but must also be as practical as possible to make things work.
“The fewer moving parts, the better.” “Exactly. No truer words were ever spoken in the context of engineering.” By Christian Cantrell
11. John Prebble was an was the author of this quote, in his book “Disaster at Dundee”, 1956. page 16. The book talks about the Tay Bridge Disaster, which was the collapse of the rail bridge in Dundee, the book showed the flaws of the construction of the bridge which Prebble investigated. John Prebble quoted the engineer profession perfectly as something that allows the engineer to make his imagination a reality. One of the most fortunate it is as they can build the monuments of their dreams and someone else is paying for it but the engineer will be known as the person who designed and directed it until completion. The engineer will have the public’s approval to build what he envisioned, now that is a job where you get paid to do what you love.
“Architects and engineers are among the most fortunate of men since they build their own monuments with public consent, public approval, and often public money.” By John Prebble
12. James Kip Finch was destined to James Wells and Winifred Florence Louise (Kip) Finch, in Peekskill, New York. He went to Columbia University, getting a Bachelor of Science in structural designing in 1906 and a Master of Arts in 1911. He was an individual from the Episcopal Church and, in his recreation time, a sharp painter with watercolors and oils. He wedded Lolita P. Mollmann (d. 1964) on June 25, 1910, in Stanford, New York. They had a child, Edward E. K. Finch. Finch made an accurate statement with the quote as engineers build infrastructures that last decades and in those infrastructures, history have taken place. Big and Small decisions have been made in those infrastructures, which still stand today, and those decisions have impacted the present in a big way as if those infrastructures didn’t exist then a huge portion of history would have been lost to time.
“The engineer has been, and is, a maker of history.” By James Kip Finch
13. Sir Frederick Henry Royce, first Baronet, OBE (27 March 1863 – 22 April 1933) was an English engineer and auto planner who, with Charles Rolls and Claude Johnson, established the Rolls-Royce organization. Rolls Royce is the most prestigious car brand in the world as only the rich and famous can own, if you are just rich then Rolls Royce won’t even let you buy their cars as only the best of the best have them. Engineers need to aim for perfection as anything less can be catastrophic to the society, every detail they do should be the best if they think it’s not good enough then make something better as this is the way innovation in engineering starts. Henry Royce designed the best luxury cars and look where it is now.
“Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it.” By Sir Henry Royce
14. Nathan Washington “Big’n” Dougherty (March 23, 1886 – May 18, 1977) was a dignitary of the University Of Tennessee College Of Engineering at Knoxville from 1940 to 1956. He was likewise the administrator of the UT Athletic Council from 1917 to 1956. A designing working at the school is named after him. The building burst into flames in November 2006, however, was later revived. This shows how difficult engineering is in the field of work and study as you have to know multiple disciplines when practicing it. The engineer is an amalgamation of essential studies that is used for the development of the human race as the engineer brings their theories to life.
“The ideal engineer is a composite … He is not a scientist, he is not a mathematician, he is not a sociologist or a writer; but he may use the knowledge and techniques of any or all of these disciplines in solving engineering problems.” By Nathan W. Dougherty
15. Theodore von Kármán (11 May 1881 – 6 May 1963) was a Hungarian-American mathematician, plane architect, and physicist who was dynamic basically in the fields of aviation and astronautics. He is in charge of numerous key advances in optimal design, remarkably his work on supersonic and hypersonic wind stream portrayal. Scientists are optimal for the engineers work as they find new resources and materials that the engineer can use, the engineer uses those innovations to their full potential. Those various sci-fi movies show a futuristic city, those cities are created by engineers as they know the how to utilize their skills at their peak and create a world that never existed.
“Scientists study the world as it is; engineers create the world that has never been.” By Theodore von Karman
These quotations are among the best of the millions of attributable quotes for quality and civil engineering. They are a reflection of how society trusts its direction on these professionals and how engineers are held in such high esteem. These quotes show how far we have grown thanks to the efforts of engineers who have invested their time, their intellect and their efforts in building a community, a society that is much better than before.
Engineers have it lucky that they get to bring their vision to life with someone else’s money, but that is the catch, the engineers need to be responsible when building a monument as to make it with the materials that can stand the test of time and no less. Their skills and intelligence is not a privilege but a responsibility, their knowledge is to be used for the benefit of mankind.