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.
- You cannot have everything. (Each solution has advantages and disadvantages that have to be tallied and traded off against each other.
- 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.)
- 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).
- 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.)
- The proof of the pudding is in the eating. (This is in direct connection with the previous principle indicating the necessity of tests.)
- 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.)
- Do not generalize, but rather qualify the specific circumstances. (Serious misunderstandings may be caused by unreserved generalizations.)
- 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.)
- We live and learn. (It is always possible to increase one’s knowledge and experience.)
- 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.