Engineering in Plain Sight

No Starch Pr. Nov. 2022. 264p. ISBN 9781718502321. $39.99. REF
Hillhouse, civil engineer and creator of the YouTube channel, Practical Engineering, has produced a fun, fact-filled volume on civil engineering that will appeal to specialists and non-specialists alike. Hillhouse transforms readers’ perspective of the built environment by simply explaining everyday engineering concepts, principles, and structures. The work is organized into eight chapters: electrical grid; communications; roadways; bridges and tunnels; railways; dams, levees, and coastal structures; municipal water and wastewater; and construction. Each chapter has a brief introduction with several related subtopics. Each one contains a description, a full-color illustration, and a lighthearted “Keep an Eye Out” section that contains enlarged pictures of complementary structures or components. For example, the discussion on buried cable lines has a detailed illustration of line components, which is accompanied by a diagram of a nitrogen box. Text and designs are combined with concise, upbeat writing and stunning visuals. The superb 23-page glossary is especially helpful for non-engineers. The colorful illustrations and accessible explanations of technical information compare favorably to David Macaulay’s illustrious classic reference, The Way Things Work.
VERDICT An outstanding resource on a wide range of civil engineering subjects for all readers. Wonderful for browsing, reading, or researching.
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