The following “ten principles for engineers” are taken from Abeles (reference at the end) and are applicable to any endeavor that the engineer is called upon to undertake.

  1. You cannot have everything. (Each solution has advantages and disadvantages that have to be tallied and traded off against each other.
  2. you cannot have something for nothing. (One has to pay in one way or the other for something which is offered as a “free gift” into the bargain, notwithstanding a solution’s ¬†being optimal for the problem.)
  3. It is never too late. (e.g. to alter a design, to strengthen a structure before it collapses, or to adjust pr even change principles previously employed in the light of increased knowledge and experience).
  4. There is no progress without considered risk. (While it is imprtant to ensure sufficient safety, over conservatism can never lead to an understanding of novel structures.)
  5. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. (This is in direct connection with the previous principle indicating the necessity of tests.)
  6. Simplicity is always an advantage, but beware of oversimplification. (The latter may lead to theoretical calculations which are not always correct in practice, or to a failure to cover all conditions.)
  7. Do not generalize, but rather qualify the specific circumstances. (Serious misunderstandings may be caused by unreserved generalizations.)
  8. The important question is how good, not how cheap an item is. ( A cheap price given by an inexperienced contractor usually results in bad work; similarly, cheap, unproved appliances may have to be replaced.)
  9. We live and learn. (It is always possible to increase one’s knowledge and experience.)
  10. There is nothing completely new.(Nothing is achieved instantaneously, but only by step-by-step development.



  • Abeles,P. W and Bardhan-Roy, B.K. Prestressed Concrete Designer’s Handbook. 3d ed. London View Point Publications, 1981.