The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 3 (1925) > Issues > Issue 1 > Great Engineers - I: Rennie, Father & Son.
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Great Engineers - I: Rennie, Father & Son.

A hundred years ago it was possible for a man to be simultaneously a great civil engineer, a great structural engineer and a great architect as well. Is it because the three professions were less highly specialised than they are at present or did there tread the earth in those days men of greater intellectual stature than our modern generation seems able to produce? Or is it some quite remediable circumstance which disallows the expression of a constructive genius catholic in its scope and capable of subordinating the multifarious activities of engineers to a common cultural end? As Sir John Rennie has finely said: "The real object of the civil engineer is to promote the civilization of the world." The same may be said of the mechanical engineer, the structural engineer and also the architect. The utilitarian virtues of convenience, economy and durability must, of course, be aimed at, but we must also strive after humanism, that state of accomplishment in the art of living wherein man is master over all the mechanical means he has created for his use and is never on any occasion subservient to them. Let the machine bear the human mark rather than man bear the mark of the machine. Engineers are under an obligation to achieve design in the complete sense of this word and-need we hesitate to say it?-beauty. A. Trystan Edwards