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I tutor English language and literature. I sometimes find that tutees are really keen on engineering, tech and so on, and find analysing the more traditional texts intimidating (I mean Shakespeare and so on).

I know there are classic essays on computing, and it occurred to me that the same might be true of electrical engineering and engineering in general. Classic books would be equally valid.

Can anyone suggest such a thing? Many thanks.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You tutor English "lang and lit"??? Oh, dear... \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 10:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I know what tutoring is. But lang and lit? Isn't it ironic if someone who tutors language and literature doesn't use proper language himself? \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 11:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Steven - "English lang. and lit." is a very common abbreviation used for these subjects (in the UK, not sure about elsewhere) \$\endgroup\$
    – Oli Glaser
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 11:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've expanded my abbreviations in the hope that the discussion will return to classic texts on electrical and general engineering. My apologies to anyone who was misled. \$\endgroup\$
    – David
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 11:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @stevenh Really, the first thing you do is offend the poster on a discipline that is not your own but his? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 1:10

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I think it's an excellent question but I'm trying to think of something undeniably "classic" that wouldn't be too intimidating in a technical sense (e.g. Faraday's equations, Shockleys transistor patent, etc)

As far as readable/inspiring goes, I think many of the articles written by people like Jim Williams, Bob Pease might be worth looking at. "Analog Circuit Design: Art, Science and Personalities" is a non-too-technical collection of stories written by many top electrical engineers (including the above mentioned Jim Williams)

Also, a story based around a major engineering achievement may be worth looking at, for instance the Apollo missions and moon landing - "Apollo: The race to the moon" apparently focuses on the team/engineering perspective.

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Vitruvius, Ten Books of Architecture, is something that I heavily reference when teaching about failure modes. Parts of it are good reads.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Scott. Picked at random from that text, 'The Directions of the Streets; With Remarks on the Winds' looks like it could fit the bill. \$\endgroup\$
    – David
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 14:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @David Don't forget that here when you say thanks, you're supposed to click on the up arrow next to the answer too. \$\endgroup\$
    – AndrejaKo
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 14:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Fair reminder, AndrejaKo. I did try at the moment I added the comment, but my reputation was under 15 so I was blocked. I've now done so. \$\endgroup\$
    – David
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 14:56
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I guess you will find a lot of texts you are looking for in "The World of Mathematics" by James R. Newman (editor).

It's a 4 volume collection of mainly classical texts not only about mathematics but also about philosophy, physics and some more practical topics (like "How to hunt a submarine").

It contains texts from John von Neuman, Alan M. Turing, Claude Shannon, Aldous Huxley, Lewis Carrol, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein etc.

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"The Existential pleasures of engineering" 2nd ed. by Samuel C. Florman ISBN 0-312-14104-1 Not about specific fields but about the general approach.

Amazon Here "A deeply insightful and refreshingly unique text, this book corrects the myth that engineering is cold and passionless... "

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These are slightly off-topic, but are sciencey and classic.

  • Origin of Species - Charles Darwin.
  • Death and Life of Great American Cities - Jane Jacobs
  • Almost anything by Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Feynman.
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Experiments with Alternate Currents of High Potential and High Frequency by Nikola Tesla, and its available for free in iBooks.

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