Thursday, November 29, 2012

Engineering Adventures with Nevil Shute

Poster for No Highway in the Sky
from Wikipedia
Once again, I will be leading a course at ILEAD at Dartmouth.  This time I will lead a 4-session course in January called Engineering Adventures with Nevil Shute.  Below is a reprint of  the ILEAD catalog description of the class.


 Engineering Adventures with Nevil Shute

In this course we will read two of Nevil Shute’s  lesser-known books: Slide Rule (his autobiography) and No Highway, (which presaged the failure of the early De Havilland Comet airplane).

Based on these books, we will discuss the troubles that can befall engineering projects.  The books include issues of changing specifications, the difference between private enterprise and "government work," and how quirky individuals affect the outcome of projects.

The course will be participatory. We will discuss issues from the books, then we will trade "war stories": similar problems and solutions with our own projects.

The material will be of interest to engineers and non-engineers. If you have been involved in a big project, such as building a house, you have the background to enjoy this course.

Discussion group members should plan to read both books.


MEREDITH ANGWIN has a MS in Physical Chemistry. Though most of her life was spent in nuclear energy research and problem-solving, she also worked extensively with fossil fuels.  She likes to talk about technical subjects in a relatively non-technical fashion. For many years, her job title was "project manager." Consequently, she often wonders how projects get managed.


In this class, we are also going to watch the movie, No Highway in the Sky, in an optional extra class session.

I have led courses at ILEAD before, specifically:
Robert Hargraves did most of the work with Energy Safari.  I was co-leader of the course, and I have several posts about it on this blog.

Leading a course like this, as opposed to a leading a course in energy technology, will be a new adventure for me. Wish me luck!  I will post about the course occasionally.


arduoushat said...

Best of luck Merredith you will enjoy yourself

Kerry Raymond said...

Sounds fabulous -- pity I live on the other side of the world!

Joffan said...

Sounds like fun. I'm booking your course books out of my library right now...

Mark Bolton said...

Hi Meredith ! I swung by your website after listing to your contribution to The Atomic Show. This course sounds facinating. Ienjoyed Slide Rule hugely and may even have a copy of it in my dwinding collestion of actual books. You are no doubt aware of the saga of the R 101 / 100 during the inter war airship program? Be brilliant if you could post the course online !! Best of luck and a Happy New Year.

Meredith Angwin said...

Thank you Mark!

The U S Librarian of the Nevil Shute Society (I didn't even know there WAS a Nevil Shute Society) will be making a video of the course.

Yes. The airships. Here's my course statement for the discussion of Slide Rule:

First hour: Slide Rule. We will spend most of our time discussing the first part of the book, through the analysis of the airship crashes (through chapter 7). However, later chapters about the management of Shute’s company also raise questions. Discussion topics:
• Was the R101 doomed by:
- Being built in a government facility?
- Not having pilots as designers?
- Lack of project management?
- Other issues (air-worthiness certification rules, for example)?
• Do project managers need to be independently wealthy to do a good job?