“Doing engineering for me is creating value, tools creating value. The immediate question comes up, ‘how do you do that and by what kinds of things are engineers creating value?' 'And what kind of value?’”

“It was a political decision made by the president to go to the moon, and the engineers delivered on that. And there was a huge economic spinout. That’s what engineering really has to be, it has to be a benefit to the economy.” Explore more >>

“This press is brilliantly engineered in the sense that it’s a perfect size for small-scale distributed production of local fuels. It runs on petrol, so you don’t have to have electricity, which is the case in rural Kenya. It’s reasonably sized for what it’s worth. But when I was working on agricultural politics stuff in Kenya, and I was talking to a small-scale farmer, and I was asking him about biofuels, he said, ‘oh, you’re talking about jatrophra? I have a jatrophra press in the shed from the 90s that a German NGO gave me. Do you want it? We don’t, we are not going to use it.’” Explore more >>

“Engineering is things that augment the human to almost extend what people can do. In really simple terms, this footstool makes us taller, extends reach.” Explore more >>

“Engineers are changing the world in different ways. They are changing the the physical environment, but they are also changing our social environment. There is something here like buildings or infrastructure, but it’s about peoples, it’s about goals, it’s about culture, its processes, values. And that is the way for me that engineers primarily create value.”

“This is one of the first steam-powered ploughs brought into operation. You can see that it digs a very large furrow indeed. That’s because this is about making that entire landscape, having that landscape irrigated in a new way entirely. So this is about changing hundreds of acres of land and re-purposing it entirely.” Explore more >>

“There’s lots in this picture really because it doesn’t just set humans and engineered infrastructure in context. It shows what engineering’s done for us, you know. Energy provision, connectivity, roads, simply supporting life of human life on Earth.” Explore more >>

“There’s not a single blade of grass that hasn’t been affected by some sort of engineering activity. So humankind and engineers and the way that we interact with everything can be seen as sort of, forms of engineering.” Explore more >>

“If you look at how engineers solve problems, because engineering is also about problem solving, you see that when they have a choice, when they are facing a certain problem, engineers tend to get the humans out of the picture. That’s why I’ve given this example in the photo, right? Suppose that they are given the problem of solving a traffic jam at the crossroads in a city. One way of doing that is not by solving it by technology, but by introducing a social system. You put a police officer there, or traffic man, who organises, who rules the traffic. A more advanced system from an engineering point of view is the traffic light. They want to get the humans, who are error-prone, out of the picture.”

“The idea was, ‘let’s find a propeller that has great thrust. We don’t really understand how these things work the way we should, but we need to deliver airplanes, so let’s try to find a great propeller.’ So, they just built a bunch of propellers with different shapes and tested them.” Explore more >>

“There was this beautiful vision of this socio-technical system with this very well-engineering thing that would be a part of it. But it didn’t actually work for the reality of small-scale farmers across east Africa, across the world, really. The economics and the time and the energy just didn’t work. When I think of engineering, I think of how, how all these different pieces of this socio-technical systems have to hold together and cohere. And that can be for a moment of time, or it can be not at all.” Explore more >>

“I get interested in the end-user and the particular uses that things that are engineered get used for, and not always designed in from the start. There’s nothing stopping this guy from sitting on this stool and browsing through books. Or even going around the corner and dragging a chair from a desk and standing on that. Different ways to achieve the same results, and it’s how a person is positioned. If you’re a student, or a library staff, or a health and safety officer, you might do different things with different objects but still get the same result.” Explore more >>