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One reader takes us to task
for not identifying women
researchers. Another questions
whether engineering is a science.
recalls an earlier era
of engineering via
To the Editor: Does ASME have a gender
bias? My wife pointed out some photos
and captions in the April 2018 feature,
“Cell Mechanics” by Jean Thilmany, that
showed a discrepancy.
Both male and female researchers are
depicted, but the captions only identify
I am hoping this was not intentional
and that you might let us know who those
two female researchers are.
Mark Schanfein, Eastsound, Wash.
Editor’s note: The vintage image of
Jonathan Hartwell was from a stock agency
that did not supply a name for the other
researcher. Based on some additional
sleuthing, we discovered that she was
Sylvy Ruth Levy Kornberg, a biochemist
who contributed to the discovery of the
mechanisms of DNA and RNA synthesis,
work which won the Nobel Prize for
Medicine in 1959. The prize was awarded to
her husband, Arthur Kornberg.
Her son, Roger David Kornberg, won the
Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2006.
The other researcher is Melis Hazar,
whose name was not supplied with the
photo. Hazar was a graduate student in
Philip LeDuc’s lab and is now a scientist at
an international biotechnology company.
To the Editor: I wholeheartedly concur
with Adrian Bejan's conclusion that
engineering has transformed our society
for the better (“Without Engineering,
Civilization Does Not Exist,” May 2018).
Unfortunately, Bejan's definition of
engineering as a type of science was
inaccurate, which contributes to the
public’s misunderstanding of our
The article stated that “engineering
is the science of what is useful” and
“engineering is [a] body of science.”
It concluded by repeating
that engineering is “the science of
Although engineers need to learn
science and some scientists do some
engineering, engineering is not a type of
science, for it has a different objective.
Scientists study the world in order to
understand it, but engineers design
new products and systems. Scientists
describe; engineers decide.
Henry Petroski discussed this
distinction and provided more ways to
view it in An Engineer's Alphabet.
Bejan was closer to the truth when
he described engineers as those who
“are developing new contrivances and
improving old ones.”
Jeffrey W. Herrmann, College Park, Md.
To the Editor: The April 2018 feature, “Gig
Engineering” by Kayt Sukel, reminded
me of a job I got in the early 1960s. It was
in what was then called a “job shop” to
act as a middleman between individual
engineers and customers—mostly in
aerospace—who needed talent.
I had never heard of a “job shop,” and
as I settled into the job was surprised
to find how much of the aerospace
engineering in Southern California was
done by contract engineers, who were
called “job shoppers.” Top engineers
could make more money when they were
hired as independents than they could as
employees of the aerospace companies.
Sadly, my new career did not last
very long. A major defense contract was
cancelled, and the flood of unemployed
engineers made the opportunities for
contracting few and far between.
Regardless of what you call it, it’s clear
that the concept of “gig engineering” is
Richard Shilling, Shoreline, Wash.
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