Imagens das páginas

of manufacture, and to some extent with the money power which uses these things. But in the broad way, the responsibility for the continued use of a method for doing any industrial task, which is known to be unsafe, or unduly deleterious to human health, is not the engineer's. It falls on the capitalist, the corporation or the employer, and the agencies which have to deal with him for his conversion to a more altruistic point of view belong to those above mentioned, rather than the engineer.

Any and all of these bureaus, which are doing the protective work of the state, are bound to encounter problems in administering the laws, which they cannot solve. Whenever their problems involve the physical forces of nature, and involve information or research which they cannot themselves supply then the engineering college ought to be brought in for help. The relationship here ought to be parallel with that in the highway laboratory. The college ought not to be used for doing the routine water-testing for the board of health, or the routine determination of dust in the air for the inspection of workshops. These duties are police duties and do not properly belong to education. But new problems, which the routine laboratories and routine men cannot handle are legitimately the ones which a state can call upon its college to solve.

(3) Fire Prevention.—It is the business of the engineer to build structures of all sorts, and it is also his bounden duty to conserve materials and men, in the building and using of his structures. Conservation is in fact a moral obligation which education lays upon all men. Waste is immoral. No educated man can wittingly see a wanton waste of anything without a protest. Especially clear and definite is the obligation of economy to an engineer, for his business in life is the business of doing things efficiently.

Hence, in fire prevention, as in other branches of conservation, the engineer has no choice as to where he will stand on the general proposition. He must do all he can to reduce this national waste this national disgrace, I might say. The agencies through which he must operate are the state fire insurance bureaus and commissions, the state inspection of workshops, factories and public buildings, the state architect, when there is one, and the various others. The officials in these boards are, as a group, probably as open to suggestions from without as any. Improved methods of building, improved materials of construction, improved apparatus for protection, in short, better engineering, is likely to be a welcome visitor in these bureaus, and hence, engineering colleges can be of good service to them.

To a somewhat greater extent perhaps than in the case of highway work, does this group of state bureaus need direct contact with the engineering colleges, for the reason that they are as a rule less supplied or equipped with adequate testing laboratories to settle their questions for them. In this connection it should also be said that there are certain to be needed investigations of large size too big for any college plant to handle unaided. For instance, in the plumbing line, the approval of new types of fixtures and new systems of connecting up in buildings of 20 to 40 stories needs urgently the investigation of competent engineers. College laboratories could not often supply more than two to four-story structures. Here is an admirable example of an opportunity for cooperation. The bureau can supply the chance to use expensive installations as a laboratory. The college can supply the men and the special equipment to make the study. In dozens of such ways, both as regards fire proof construction, and better building in general, can colleges be of use to state bureaus.

(4) Control of Public Utilities.-In this topic and in another which is intimately connected with it, viz., state boards of administrations, the public has undertaken a long step forward. The real step has been an economic one. In the control of public utilities, the state has undertaken:

(a) To find out how much these privately owned, public service bodies are really worth, and make them pay taxes upon the full


(b) To find out how they finance their affairs and put a quick stop to their practices of watering their securities, so as to insure the public, when they buy such securities that there is a real value behind each dollar on the face of their certificates.

(c) To find out whether the service they are rendering is as good as the public ought to have for the price it pays.

In the creation of central boards of administrations, some of the states have undertaken to cut out the enormous waste of its money, due to duplication of effort. Instead of letting every prison, reformatory, hospital, asylum, orphanage and infirmary buy for itself and throw away its waste products, one board buys for all and studies the waste materials and gets use out of them, if possible. For instance, in Ohio, the central board of administration has put in a woolen mill to make the cloth for the clothing and bedding of the state's delinquent and dependent wards. The waste woolen rags from dozens of public charities will find a use in making blankets and felt. They are preparing to put in a paving brick factory, where their convicts will mine the coal, dig the clay and make the bricks, which other convicts will lay in an intercounty system of market roads.

Now it is no tax upon the imagination of this audience to see in both sets of activities outlined above that there is a constant and imperative need of high grade engineering advice. The kind of people who are likely to be appointed on such boards are in part good, solid, hard-headed business men, and in part lame-duck politicians who need the salary. Very seldom does it seem wise to a governor to appoint as a member of such boards the actual technical authority which said board must ultimately employ in order to do their work properly. Hence, we find such boards hiring engineers, statisticians, expert accountants, and economists, to tell them what to do, while they act partly as figure heads and partly as balance wheels. This balance wheel function seems to me overworked, however, and I believe that it is really made use of to cover up the honest distrust which untrained, and often poorly educated, political leaders feel for trained college men and for other experts. It also probably sometimes covers over the incapacity and unfitness of men who have been appointed to take the lead in such movement.

It is obvious that no progress can be made by public utility commissions or similar bodies, except as they are advised most thoroughly upon the important financial and technical problems which they administer. When a commission undertakes to say to a privately owned corporation, operating under a public franchise, that it must furnish more rapid transit or more frequent car service, or purer water, or more gas, or more electricity, and must do these things for the same or for less money than is now paid, they must be exceedingly sure, first, that what they ask can be done, and, second, that it will not impose undue financial hardships upon the stockholders in these corporations. These stockholders are generally not the cause of bad service, they usually are joint inheritors with the public of a system conceived in iniquity and born in sin, known as stock watering. Everyone knows what an epidemic of high finance has assailed our

corporate life in the last quarter century and how many perfectly reputable and self-respecting men were so blinded by custom and by the example of a few disreputable and dishonest ones that they could not see the inherent wickedness of loading up a company with as much stock as it could earn dividends upon during the period when its equipment was new and maintenance at its minimum. By the time that its equipment had become obsolete, and its earnings became unable to pay dividends and at the same time take care of rehabitation and renewals, the men who were responsible for this condition had generally retired with their gains, and the set of stockholders in possession found themselves in a quandary not of their own making. In general, it requires a carefully planned campaign of many years' duration to overcome the effects of this vicious and unsound early financing. If immediate adjustment of the rate of pay for the service rendered is demanded, dozens of such quasi-public corporations must fail and their stockholders lose their holdings, while, if time is allowed, a judicious system of retrenchment in expenses, reduction of dividends and provision for future obsolescence by sinking funds from earnings will in time allow the company to grow up to its capitalization without actual disaster. This kind of work requires expert service. The actual engineering may be simple, or at least not especially difficult, but to draw the proper deductions from the mass of data which has to be examined and to do justice to both the present consumer and the present producer is a task in which only the sanest, fairest, and wisest engineers should be used.

In general, such work is a specialty. An engineer who has made such a study of the affairs of one company, becomes a much more competent adviser for another. In general, the college professor is not the man to yield such service. It is not really investigation work that is needed. The methods used are the methods of commerce. The determination of values of inventory, physical plant, and cost of output is in general not new engineering in any way. Hence, getting the data is not fit work for the college man. The final conclusions reached from a study of the data need the expert who is doing such work all the time, and he can scarcely be a college man.

On these grounds, therefore, I am unable to see that in general, the college will be likely to be an important factor in the controlling of the public and quasi-public utilities. Naturally the college will train the men who should be used by utility commissions and public service corporations. That is understood in advance. But in the regular performance of the work of these commissions, a trained staff of engineers, giving continuous service, seems to me so important as to greatly reduce the field for use of the college for expert advice.

(5) The College's Largest Usefulness.-I shall not attempt to discuss further the topics proposed by the Secretary, for others are to follow who are much more competent than I in this respect.

But, in closing, I want to point out that after all is said, the highest service that the college can render is the very service it has been rendering all along-the training of good engineers. There has never been a time when there has been greater need of courage, honesty, moral stamina, fundamental knowledge and power of sound reasoning in the engineering profession than now. Business, public and private, on a scale never before witnessed, requires guiding and controlling. For the operation of this business there are now available forces, methods and tools never before available. Great situations are thus created, and the potential capacities for good or for evil are enormous-aye, fearful! The man at the helm must be correctly advised or the record of this generation may be read in history

as brilliantly successful in discovery of natural laws which the civilization of the times was not sufficiently advanced to utilize. We are in grave danger of allowing the mania for speed, for output, for superficial efficiency, which seems to characterize our times more than any previous period of history, to invade the college and disturb us in the calm, serious business of building up sound knowledge and sound reasoning processes in our young engineers. We must not forget that the successes of to-day are possible because the leaders of the preceding few generations have been engineers of competent training-men of poise, whose minds begin with every problem at its fundamentals.

The scholarship of these older engineers was usually far less specialized than what we are now giving. It dealt with a smaller mass of knowledge. But it was pitiless in its rigid adherence to clear, logical and mathematical processes of thought, and sincerity of mind, honesty of purpose, high standards of personal honor were its most marked accompaniments.

We of this day can do no service to our states equal to the service of creating and turning into the arteries of the state, men of this sort. They are the only antidote for the danger which threaten our present high tension commercial and national life.

CHAIRMAN ORTON.-The next speaker on the program is President J. H. Connell, of Oklahoma.

PRESIDENT CONNELL.-With the consent of your chairman, I desire to call your attention briefly to some phases of this question relating to our problem as it has presented itself to me from time to time through a series of years. For the purpose of suggesting to you the possible modes of treatment for which the activities of these several state institutions may best be employed, utilizing the excellent view points which these land grant colleges occupy with reference to the solution of the great water problems of our nation; for, unless we consider these as state problems we can never hope to solve the national problem of water supply and water control.

I listened with a great deal of interest to the statements made in the carefully prepared paper which has just been presented, with reference to effecting economies in those commercial activities and in those industrial utilities with which we have to do in our several states. I only regret that I am not able to contribute further thought to that phase of this discussion but I do wish to commend your attention to the hearty sympathy that I feel for the suggestions made this morning on the floor of the general session, by Dean Jackson, in which he commended the attention of that body to the necessity of covering not merely the agricultural phases of this so-called laboring people, but the engineering and industrial phases of work as well. Because I am sure that in the course of time we will realize that the organic act, known as the land grant act, which called into existence these institutions of learning will not be interpreted as wishing, desiring or contemplating the establishment of agricultural institutions merely, but that even agricultural phases will be understood to mean home building and home economics in the broadest sense and that in addition to agriculture, industries will be embraced and covered most thoroughly, and also the study and development of our


CHAIRMAN ORTON.-The next speaker is Dean C. R. Jones, of West Virginia.

DEAN JONES.-There are a good many phases of this discussion

that I would like to present, but the time is so short I will confine myself to what I have written on the subject.

Until recently most of the land grant and other colleges and universities were considered to have performed their whole duty to the state and to society when they had satisfactorily met the demands of the students enrolled, that is, when they were able to teach effectively all the subject matter required for the degrees offered and such other special work as was demanded. To a large extent the function of the college was to teach and its responsibility was limited to the training of men and women presumably in a manner that would develop their latent powers to the highest possible degree and thus make them more useful to society.

The sphere of usefulness of the college has never, of course, been actually or universally limited to teaching, for individual members of faculties have contributed largely to the common store of knowledge by investigations and publications and many have rendered valuable service to state and municipal governments in more direct ways by serving on commissions, acting in various advisory capacities to government officials or through special investigations. As organizations, however, cooperation with governmental agencies has been the exception rather than the rule. In the last few years the public has come to look upon the land grant college as a far more valuable asset than a mere training school, and to recognize that the college plant is one of the state's great resources and an important adjunct of the state government. Calls for information, for expert advice, and for special investigations and tests by both private citizens and public officials are becoming more and more frequent.

The college authorities have also awakened to their opportunities and are not only attempting to meet the demands which are being made upon them, thus making the college plant including its corps of specialists, its library and its working and scientific equipments an agency for public good, but are taking the initiative in an organized way to devise ways and means of cooperating with the state government and of rendering the greatest possible service to the public at large. The professors are crawling out of their shells and are becoming alert, responsible, active citizens and students of affairs. The colleges are not seeking to usurp the functions of the state governments but only to assume their rightful place as impartial and nonpartisan aids in all matters of scientific investigation in which the state is directly concerned.

Bureau of Health.

The outline given in the program covers most of the ways in which the engineering divisions may serve the state. To this list may be added the question of public sanitation. This is primarily under the control of the State Board of Health. By establishing the state laboratory of this bureau at the state college or university, duplication of apparatus may be avoided; use can be made of the chemical, medical and bacteriological laboratories and even the engineering laboratories so far as they relate to the problems of health and sanitation.

By availing itself of the equipment already installed and of the expert services of the college staff the bureau can by employing a few men to do the routine work and by purchasing such additional special apparatus as may be necessary, do its work much cheaper and more effectively than if carried on independently and to the mutual advantage of all concerned. The professor of sanitary engineering should be a member of the laboratory staff and all matters

« AnteriorContinuar »