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Top 5 Books for Prospective Engineers

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Engineering is an incredibly broad field, spanning the construction of humanity’s tallest and largest structures, and the fine control of our smallest physical and digital machines. As such, recommending a single book or author for the budding engineer – who likely has not yet decided how they might specialise – can be challenging.

Here I have tried to present a varied list of engineering books that are above all pleasurable and easy to read, while providing useful information and inspiration to the reader. Whether you want to build machines and buildings or understand why they fail, develop new materials and chemicals or new software for the modern world, I think there is definitely something for you in this list of best books for aspiring engineers!

1. Made to Measure

Made to Measure is a great introduction into how interdisciplinary engineering can be. It looks at recent developments and trends, which include bespoke engineering, to highlight some of the coolest applications of the latest technology. This is particularly insightful for those with an interest in medical engineering as it touches on complex topics such as skin grafts.

It discusses the development as ‘ideas of the future’ and it’s great to reflect on what’s been achieved 20 years later. Overall, it’s a very accessible read and packed with interesting examples. Philip Ball is a highly accomplished science writer, with over 20 years experience at the journal Nature. He has published articles in widely read publications such as New Scientist, The Guardian and the New Statesman.

It is no surprise then that his book is highly accessible to the budding engineer. Ball describes modern revelations in materials science – self-repairing materials, new synthetic polymers, data storage, synthetic diamonds and more. Engineers will have an interest in this for many reasons. First, in order to build structures and machines, we need to understand the benefits and limits of materials we use.

Also – and this is something Ball discusses – by developing new materials we can reach newer and better engineering solutions. It should be noted that the book does not have as strong a focus on metallurgy as some other introductory materials science texts. Let Ball’s approachable writing style guide you through an introduction to the science of materials.

2. How to Think like a Mathematician

Perhaps not the obvious choice for budding Engineers, but this is a great resource for any maths-related subject. It takes a progressive approach, starting with the basics and gradually guiding you through more complex concepts. Better still, it’s filled with exercises so you can put theory into practice and check your understanding as you go. Useful no matter what your mathematical ability.

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