General Engineering Introduction/Truth Beauty Goodness

Truth and Beauty evolved out of Greek culture as a pair. Without goodness, concepts such as zero and π were thought to be evil. René Descartes made the closest possible link between the good and the true.

The most positive description of a concluded project is "Elegant." Engineering starts with a problem and comes up with a solution. Solutions are judged just like all experiences of life. Most engineers look at a solution and quickly form an opinion. It is either "elegant or kludgey". A project's solution is Elegant when it combines Truth, Beauty and Goodness. A "kludgey" project has to be good ... it has to work for a little bit. It may be ugly. It may not look like it is going to work.

There are as many different engineering design philosophies as there are companies. Underlying all of them is an engineering intuition. Truth Beauty and Goodness are expressed many different ways: Integrity, Form, Function. Or perhaps analytical, intuitive, emperical.



Truth, Integrity, Transparency are collectively called "Engineering Ethics". There are frequently conflicting demands on engineers. While it is impossible to use a single decision-making process to solve every ethical dilemma, it is clear that ethical considerations will force engineers to subjugate their own self-interests.

The truth part of engineering comes up most in Design Reviews and Engineering Sales. Design Reviews are meetings where engineers pick apart each others work, try to find all the flaws, try to brainstorm every alternative. Design reviews are not sensitive to feelings or politics.

Engineering Sales are completely different than normal used car sales. Engineering sales positions require communication of truth. Commodity sales people who will do anything to make you a deal.



Art. Symmetry is one of the first forms of beauty learned. Pattern is another. Shapes or functions used repeatedly turn into part libraries and standards. Mechanical engineers see springs everywhere and learn what an ideal pin joint is. Electrical engineers see Nand gates, resistors, capacitors, inductors and op amps arranged in different ways. Computer engineers learn "objects" or "unit testing" and chemical engineers chop processes up into "Unit Operations". Each has it's own beauty.



Function is a form of Goodness. A bridge that works is good. A product that makes money is good. A building that lasts for 200 years is good. A cup that sun light decomposes into environmentally friendly way is excellent. Does the solution solve the problem? Goodness is simplicity that enables the user and other engineers to look at something and immediately know how to use it, fix it and/or it improve it.

Goodness from the personal level involves the ideal future (morality, victory, eventuation, growth, greatness, strong character, etc.)



Truth, Beauty and Goodness together are irresistible. Shoot for all three in every design.