Anonymous art: the creativity of engineers.
Godfrey Harold Hardy (1877–1947)
Most of us know the current world champion in football, tennis, or downhill skiing. But do we know the name of the project engineer of another celebrity, the Salginatobel Bridge in the canton of Grisons? The structure that in 1991 was declared an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)? Thanks to typical innovative drive and unconventional thinking, its designer arrived at major innovations in concrete construction. These made for elegant, simpler, and cheaper construction, while still guaranteeing safety. We are talking about Swiss civil engineer Robert Maillart (1872-1940). A name that is well known by experts, but – in contrast to sports celebrities – unknown to the general public, unfortunately. Maillart shares the fate of many people whose extraordinary performance remains almost anonymous!
What would the world look like without civil engineering, without mechanical engineering, without electrical engineering, and without chemical process technology? We would probably have no water or telephone connection in our home yet, no car in the garage, no fridge in the kitchen, and certainly no GPS for orientation. It is engineers who put findings from mathematics and natural sciences into practice, developing new products and processes. Simulations on the computer enable them to minimise material and realisation costs. Given the competitive environment they work in, they sometimes cross the limits of technology in the process.