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bridge companies get a good, slick agent to go out and sell the county commissioners nearly anything in the world that will go from one side of a creek to the other; and they will convince them that it is entirely money thrown away to spend anything for an expert to come there and get up those plans. They tell them that they will throw that in-give them that-if they will just buy the bridge. That was another question that came to me from one of our graduates who was rather a high official in the Santa Fe railroad, in the maintenance of way department; that in his work he has been called on by the different counties to pass on these bridges, and he has suggested that we should get out a bulletin showing the standard plans for short span bridges, bridges from a short span up to 125 feet or 130 feet; and I do not know but what we will go ahead and do that. I think that is one of the best things we could do, and distribute that to all the counties of the state, so that if they buy something lighter than the sections we show, they will know what they are getting. That is the work that is before us.
The telephone companies this last week have gone in with us and are trying to get some legislation governing the telephones, and possibly we will get into the public utilities question; I do not know.
I mention those problems as coming from Texas, because I think that most of the states here have the same questions ahead of them.
The highway work in our state has been a very important thing for several years, and this college now has three men traveling practically all the time giving advice about how to go about building roads, keeping rigidly out of the way of the engineer. We do not want the engineers to say that we are taking their practice or profession away from them. We want to built up the practice for those engineeers. These men in that highway work come in and make their reports to me, and report questions of this sort, which shows that Texas needs this engineering experiment station to disseminate knowledge which the engineers now have, but which is not available to the general public.
CHAIRMAN HASKELL.—The subject is now open for general discussion, and we shall be glad to hear from any member of the association.
DEAN ORTON.—There is one slight inaccuracy in the paper of Mr.
He said there that the board of trustees had failed to make an appropriation by which the station could be put into effective operation. It is not the fault of the board of trustees. The legislature passed the bill, but failed to make any appropriation, which the board of trustees have been requesting annually since the bill has been passed, that something should be done; but nothing has yet been done, so that there is no responsibility standing against our board of trustees in the matter. They are anxious to have us go ahead. The paper ought to be corrected in that minor respect.
While I am on my feet I would like to raise a question which has occurred to me many times before now, but which this paper has brought to my mind just at this moment, and that is the difference in policy that the different states are observing in the matter of free analytical and testing work.
I notice that some of the states here are apparently doing such work at cost.
I think, if I recall rightly, that Iowa is doing it at cost, and other states specifically state that they not attempt to do it at cost, but aim to make the price about what a commercial engineer would charge.
We in Ohio are receiving all the while requests for free tests of one sort and another. Some years ago I was state geologist for a time and had that problem put up to me right away. A man would send in a sample of lime stone or clay or anything else that he happened to have, and he seemed aggrieved if the state did not test that for him free. We ally made a ng on the subject, and declined absolutely to undertake, through the geological survey, free testing except in so far as that testing might be a part of a specific plan on which we ourselves needed the data to complete a report or to marshal facts that needed to be brought together. But we made no pretensions of analyzing a man's lime stone or anything else that he wanted, just because he wanted it. It was only if we wanted it that we would do it free.
The same general policy has prevailed in Ohio in the engineering work. We are requested to test bricks, cement and a whole lot of different structural materials. Requests come in all the time for that kind of service, and thus far our replies have been that the university is not charged with that duty, and it has not got any money with which to undertake such work; that it costs money to make tests of that kind. If we were to test with no other charge than the actual expense, we should be taking away the work of men who have qualified themselves in a commercial way to do just such things.
The question is of some interest to me, and I think it may be of some interest to others here; and I would like, if it is proper at this time, to have a little general discussion as to the ethics of this question: How far should the state go in furnishing free data of that sort to its people?
DEAN SPENCE.—Replying to that last question, I would like to say that I would like to hear it discussed too. It is one that affects us down in Texas in a little different way. It is a long way from most of our industries to the testing machines. If we had any testing laboratories in Texas capable of making the tests that come to us, I would refuse to make them, because I do not believe in trying to develop the state and then taking away the work from the people of the state. We do, however, in Texas make these commercial tests, and charge just about enough to cover the wear and tear on the machines. But as fast as laboratories are established in Texas we will get out of that field. There are a few chemical laboratories in Texas now, and our department of chemistry is practically out of that field now; and as soon as any concern comes in and puts in testing machines, we will get out of that field too.
VICE PRES. D. A. KINLEY (Illinois).–Will you permit a few words from an interloper, not in the department of engineering?
Since I left home I received a letter from Dean Richards, stating that it would be impossible for him to come and asking me to present his apologies for his unavoidable absence, and adding-what was a very foolish request—that I should say something about the engineering experiment station of the University of Illinois. "I cannot, of course, undertake to do that; but I am able to say, with reference to the particular question just raised, that in Illinois we do not test or analyze for private parties free of charge; nor, I think, do we undertake to charge what you might call the cost, because I insist that the accounting side cannot determine cost in such an undertaking, if you are using the university plant for that purpose. There is a fee for all such tests in the water survey,
in the soil survey, and all divisions of the chemical department, and in the engineering experiment station.
Of course Dean Richards and Dean Goss could tell you some in. teresting stories of the work going on at our engineering experiment station. We were in the habit for some years of asking a separate appropriation for the purpose. Now we make an appropriation for the college and experiment station, and leave it to them to divide the assignment within limits as they see fit.
DEAN RANDOLPH.—The point which Dean Orton brings up is one with which I have had some difficulty. I think it is a very broad one and a very important one. Our agricultural friends have felt the need of a very great paternalism, and everything is done for them that can be done, and it is done free. In fact, it has become necessary to force it on them-chemical analyses and everything else. Our industrial friends, the manufacturers and others, have gotten somewhat the same idea, and we have had no money at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute to do the work. The funds in hand are so small that we cannot afford to sacrifice any of it. The teaching force are all heavily loaded; the minimum being about sixteen hours teaching work, and some of them have thirty-six hours a week. We have, therefore, had to charge a certain fee, and the professor generally gets that fee, treating what little comes in as consulting work. What is going to be the result and what is to be evolved as to the ethics of the subject is, I must admit, a matter about which I am very much at sea.
I rather object to paternalism. I rather object to anything of that kind. I think an industry should stand on its own bottom. Yet our country has become imbued with the other idea, through primary, secondary and higher education, all the way through. We are going into that line. The state takes up and does all these things.
If we are going on that policy, if we are going to have our engineering work required to be done free, a good many of our consulting engineering friends will be getting after us. They get after me, and I do not know but what they do it justly. Sometimes they come in with remarks like this: “If you had let that thing alone, I would have gotten the whole job.”
I do not know whether we had a discussion of the papers this morning, as we adjourned to go to the White House, but a matter was brought up that is bothering us a great deal, when the speaker spoke of giving courses of a certain kind and the phraseology used by him, as I got it, was that he would give a course for six weeks and the young man would be an electrical engineer or a mechanical engineer or a civil engineer. That difficulty is a very serious one.
A very prominent man in the state, in educational circles, to whom I made a complaint of the small amount of chemistry in the course of mechanical engineering, said: "What use is chemistry for a mechanical engineer?” The engineers have much difficulty of that kind, and I suggest that we consider very carefully the use of the term "engineering,” in such a connection, and particularly, that we avoid giving anybody the idea that you can make an engineer in six weeks. The engineering societies, the American Society of Civil Engineers, for example, have taken up the subject and have considered the question of having a law passed to license engineers. Canada has done it. As it is, any
one from the man pulling a throttle on down, calls himself an engineer.
In this connection an experience that I had four or five years ago is apropos. I met a new student at the college and, wishing to be polite, spoke to him. He said: “What do you teach ?”. I replied: "I have the chair of mechanical engineering.” He said: “Oh, I learned that all practically. I ran a stationary engine for two years."
One of the most important things, I think, that we can do is to educate people out of that idea.
CHAIRMAN HASKELL—The Chair understands that an opportunity is to be given tomorrow morning to discuss the papers of this morning. We shall be glad to hear from anyone else on the subject befo the convention.
PROFESSOR TYLER.—I wish to mention rather briefly a printed report which I have in my hand, prepared for the Alumni Association of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
We have a very vigorous and active alumni council, and one of the things the council undertook for this year was a study of the relations of the Institute to the state; and the pamphlet which I have in my hand is the Report of the Committee on Organized Co-operation between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The report is rather comprehensive, as may be indicated by a few passages, beginning with a review of the Institute's previous relation to the state. "From its inception the Institute was intended to serve the scientific needs of the state and its people."
Passing to the present needs of the state for adequate scientific aid: “The experience of other localities proves that an efficient alliance between the state and its scientific institutions alone meets the needs of the modern progressive community.” “The ability of the Institute to supply the scientific needs of the state,” is discussed and the "available fields of co-operation, with typical instances,” including, for example, the "publication of scientific information, interlocking laboratory training for students and state officials," "establishment of student grades for temporary state engineering positions,” and so on.
I mention these titles merely to give an idea of the scope of the pamphlet, without taking the time to go into detail. A section follows on: “Means of co-operation recommended by this committee."
“We recommend that legislation be asked for which shall increase and regularize the service of members of the Faculty of the Institute (and other institutions to be specified in the act) on state boards and commissions, either as members or in an advisory capacity.”
"We recommend that the use of laboratories and shops of the Institute be placed at the service of the state under appropriate conditions which will safeguard the educational purpose of the Institute and the administrative needs of the state."
"We recommend that there be established a bureau of technical information.”
"We recommend the appointment by the Governor of a permanent committee on co-operation to carry into effect the foregoing recommendations."
“Finally, we ask that this report be referred to the president of the Institute and executive committee of the corporation with the recommendation that they give to this subject their consideration, as it is our belief that they will find here ample justification for taking appropriate steps leading to the realization of the plan herein embodied."
The signers of this report are, two of them alumni, one a present member of the faculty, and one a former member of the instructing staff. There are also a few addenda of some interest: A review of biology in the service of the state, prepared by Professor Sedgwick, with an account of the extensive system of water analysis carried on for many years.
Instances of co-operation between the state and various departments of the Institute, over rather a wide range, for example:
Electric meter tests, tests of paving bricks and other materials for the directors of the port of Boston, the use of compressed air, waterproofing the subway, and so on.
A partial outline is given of the organization of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with reference to its possible scientific needs, and an account of co-operation between governments and universities elsewhere.
The following acknowledgment may be of interest:
“A glance at the proceedings of the Land Grant College Engineering Association, organized in November, 1913, serves to indicate the great amount of thought which has been given to this subject and the valuable lessons of experience which have been learned by other states and universities.".
This is the only copy of the report which I happen to have. I shall be glad to loan it to anybody, or to have it mailed, if anybody is specially interested in owning a copy.
We have no experiment station, but we have not been wholly oblivious, I am glad to say, to the public need in the matter.
CHAIRMAN HASKELL.—The Chair has been requested to call upon Mr. Samuel Fortier, Chief of the Irrigation Investigations.
MR. FORTIER.—I thank you for your courtesy in calling upon me, Mr. Chairman, but came here to listen this afternoon. However, I will attempt to explain the need of experiment engineering stations in our work of irrigation investigations.
That work has been rather narrow, perhaps. I began as assistant engineer of the Denver water works in 1886, and I have never been able to get away from the subject of water since that time. But, after having devoted twenty-five or thirty years to it, I feel that we are just beginning the study of the utilization of water.
When Congress some fourteen or fifteen years ago appropriated a small amount of money for irrigation investigations, it was thought inadvisable to create a new branch, so that the amount-$10,000, I believe it was—was handed over to the Office of Experiment Stations with the request that in utilizing that small appropriation, it be done in connection with the western experiment stations.
In consequence our work in irrigation has been very largely carried on in connection with the experiment stations of the west, where irrigation, as you know, is a vital issue.
The west has been filling up with people of all kinds during the past ten or fifteen years, and in order to help the settlers we have been drifting away, I fear, from our legitimate work. Some of us have been trained as engineers, but we have developed into farmers, I think. We have had to cross the line which separates engineering from agriculture, in order to give advice and help to those who have settled in the west and begun the use of water in irrigation, something entirely new to them.
In looking over our publications, therefore, you will find some engineering data in them, but there is a good deal more information which belongs to the boundary zone between engineering and agriculture, and I sometimes think that the term "agricultural engineering" would cover that field better than any other.
Going back, however, to the experiment station work, we have felt the need of more accurate information on many subjects. In the case of pumping plants, for instance, we co-operated with the University of California. Professor LeConte in years gone by did much excellent work in that line in co-operation with our office.