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  • Writer's pictureTohar Liani

Books Every Engineering Student Should Read

Updated: Feb 4

Embarking on an engineering education journey is an exhilarating challenge, blending rigorous academic study with the thrill of innovation. Amidst equations, projects, and simulations, there’s a world of literature waiting to be discovered by engineering students. These books not only deepen technical understanding but also inspire creativity, ethical considerations, and a broader perspective on the impact of engineering in the world. Here are essential reads every engineering student should have on their bookshelf.


1. "The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman This classic is a must-read for understanding the importance of user-centered design. Norman delves into the psychology behind how people interact with objects, making it a pivotal read for engineers aiming to create intuitive and user-friendly designs.


2. "Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down" by J.E. Gordon For civil engineering students, Gordon’s exploration of the fundamentals of structural engineering is both accessible and profound. Through engaging anecdotes and examples, this book demystifies complex concepts like tension, compression, and shear.


3. "The Existential Pleasures of Engineering" by Samuel C. Florman Florman celebrates the creative joy and societal contributions of engineering. This book offers a philosophical perspective on the profession, encouraging students to appreciate the deeper significance of their future work.


4. "Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future" by Peter Thiel While not exclusively an engineering book, Thiel’s insights into innovation and creating value are invaluable for engineers aspiring to venture into entrepreneurship or innovate within their fields.


5. "Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed" by Ben R. Rich and Leo Janos This memoir from the leader of Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of top-secret aerospace engineering projects. It’s a testament to the power of innovative engineering and teamwork.


6. "An Engineer's Alphabet: Gleanings from the Softer Side of a Profession" by Henry Petroski Petroski’s collection of essays covers a wide range of topics, from design failures to the importance of pencils in the engineering process. It’s a lighter read that offers wisdom and reflections on the engineering profession.


7. "How to Engineer Your Layoff: Make a Small Fortune by Saying Goodbye" by Sam Dogen Offering a unique perspective, this book navigates the often overlooked aspect of career strategy in engineering. It’s an insightful guide for those looking to transition into new opportunities with financial savvy.


8. "Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air" by David J.C. MacKay For engineers passionate about tackling climate change, MacKay’s book provides a realistic look at the numbers behind renewable energy sources and consumption, urging a scientifically informed approach to sustainable engineering.


9. "The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution" by Walter Isaacson Isaacson’s narrative of the digital age highlights the collaborative efforts behind the major technological breakthroughs of our time, from the internet to the computer. It’s a compelling read that underscores the importance of interdisciplinary teamwork in engineering.


10. "Thinking in Systems: A Primer" by Donella H. Meadows Systems thinking is crucial for solving complex engineering problems. Meadows introduces readers to the concept of systems theory, providing the tools to see beyond individual components and understand the broader implications of engineering solutions.


These books offer a blend of technical knowledge, history, philosophy, and career advice, enriching the engineering student’s journey. By exploring these reads, students can gain insights beyond the classroom, preparing them not just as engineers, but as thinkers and innovators shaping the future.


Stay smart, stay curious!

Catch you in the next post,

Tohar Liani

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