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Posted on August 31st, 2012, by

To Engineer Is Human is the documentary which uncovers numerous pitfalls engineers have encountered in their work and the failures which may be the direct result of miscalculations and errors made by engineers. However, the main message of the video is not limited by the depiction of errors of engineers and demonstration of major failures of engineers and constructions made by people in different time and places. In fact, it is rather the message that lies on the surface than the main message of Henri Petrowski. In actuality, Henri Petrowski raises a very important problem the problem of human creativity and engineering works confronted to the lack of knowledge and experience of humans. What is meant here is the fact that the video shows that human efforts directed at the improvement of their life and creation of architectural and engineering masterpieces may lead to catastrophes if engineers fail that means that human creativity is limited by natural laws that cannot be violated and humans need to try and test their ideas in order to create genius engineering works. On the way to creation of such genius works, humans are likely to face numerous failures and failures described in the video perfectly illustrate this risk.

On the other hand, the video shows that, in spite of all the failures, including the most disastrous ones, humans keep creating and working on new, even more daring projects. Therefore, it is possible to speak about the main message of To Engineer Is Human which implies that creativity is an integral part of human nature, but to error is human and failures will naturally accompany human creativity but they will never stop humans in their creative work.

At the same time, To Engineer Is Human raises a number of sub-topics which are related directly to engineering and the problem of failure of engineers and their constructions. In this respect, it is possible to single out the theme of the strength of materials as one of the major problems of the contemporary engineering. In fact, today, people need to work in more and more extreme conditions in order to maintain the economic development and technological progress of the mankind. For instance, it is possible to refer to the example of the modern oil industry, which tends to develop oil shells in oceans, where the strength of materials is crucial not only for the normal work of people but also for the survival of workers in extreme natural conditions. Therefore, the work on the strength of materials as well as the invention of new materials is of the utmost importance because the strength of materials opens larger opportunities for the development of human technology and science. At this point, it is also possible to refer to the development of the aerospace industry. For instance, the modern science attempts to explore Mars and the Moon in details, but to reach them, scientists need extremely strong materials that can afford extreme conditions, including solar radiation.

Furthermore, the research of the outer space also implies laboratory testing and model development that is another important sub-topic of To Engineer Is Human. For instance, the human landing on Mars and the exploration of this planet by humans is the dream of many scientists and, today, modern science is close to the practical implementation of this dream as it has never been before. Many scientists work on the development of the project of mission to Mars and landing of humans on the planet. At the same time, this mission will definitely raise a number of problems, among which the risk to the life and health of humans will be the major problem. This is why to minimize such risks and threats, scientists need to conduct in-depth researches, which include laboratory testing and model development.

For this purpose, scientists conduct experiments in space to test existing technologies and the impact of the outer space on humans and modern materials and technologies. The data collected in the course of these testing and experiments are accumulated to generate knowledge and data essential for the mission to Mars.

In addition, the quality of materials and engineering constructions is of the utmost importance in the contemporary world. This is why reliability and statistics, which is one more sub-topic of the video, are of the utmost importance. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the development of nuclear energy industry, which heavily relies on the reliability of engineering constructions. It proves beyond a doubt that reliability and statistics is crucial for the stable work of nuclear power stations since specialists working in these stations need to process a huge amount of information and obtain reliable results, while constructions and materials used in the functioning of nuclear power stations need to be absolutely reliable since there is no margin for error. The Chernobyl disaster is the reminder of the danger of errors and unreliable work of engineers or unreliability of engineering constructions used in nuclear power stations.

Obviously, To Engineer Is Human is still relevant and ideas developed by Henri Petrowski in his video are relevant in the modern world.

In this regard, the development of the sub-topic of extreme loading, which is one of the important sub-topics discussed in the film, is particularly important in the modern world. The global climate change increases the risk of natural disasters. Such natural phenomena as El Nino, Katrina and others occur more and more frequently. As a result, modern engineering constructions, houses, buildings, roads, bridges and other constructions have to be able to afford the enormous pressure caused by natural phenomena such as hurricanes or inundation.

Modern technologies and engineering should be able to confront new challenges from the part of the nature as well as from the part of human technologies which may be dangerous too. In such a way, engineers should develop technologies that can afford extreme loading, which is now larger than it used to be in the past. For instance, the frequency of hurricanes in the Southern of the US has increased substantially in recent. Therefore, the extreme loading increased proportionally to the increased number of hurricanes. Consequently, engineers should foresee potential threats and extreme loading which would impact their constructions and which they should afford without causing harm to humans.

Thus, in conclusion, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that Henri Petrowski in his video To Engineer Is Human perfectly demonstrated the potential danger and risks that accompany the development of human science and technology. On the other hand, he showed that human creativity is irresistible and people will keep progressing, but they should be aware of potential dangers and risks to avoid failures similar to those depicted in the film.

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