There’s Poetry In Engineering

Aug. 25, 2016

I was posting Dirk Willard’s latest column (Worker Safety: Forget Political Correctness) on the website the other day and I noticed he tossed in an Easter egg (an intentional hidden message) via one of his linked items. The lead-in is “Physics is ruthless” and the link goes to a poem by Rudyard Kipling. I thought about editing his copy to note the poem was contained in the link. I even asked my editor what I should do and we both agreed it’s fun to have hidden gems peppered into the copy.

My typewriter-collecting, Studebaker-driving editor then circled back and sent me even more links to poetry that has to do with manufacturing and engineering. There’s even a book dedicated to the topic: “Poetry for Engineers or Engineering for Poets,” by Clayton Grow, P.E.

According to an article on the National Society of Professional Engineers website, Grow said, "I . . . knew the idea of poetry about engineering or poetry for engineers might be unique enough to actually catch people's attention.”

And now I realize why it caught the attention of my editor -- Each of the poems in the book was composed on a 1930s Remington Noiseless 7 typewriter and the book features scans of those original pages, edits and all.

Another fun read -- Fluid Mechanics Poetry Contest entries. Colorado State Engineering Students wrote poems about fluid mechanics as an extra credit assignment and more than 33 poems were submitted. Some of the winning titles: “The Vapor Power Plant,” “Fluid Mechanics is a Drag” and “The Reynolds Equation.” You can read all the poems here.

I’d love to read other poems related to engineering and I’m betting that some of you can accommodate me. If you’ve penned a poem, prose or haiku, please send it to me. Maybe we will publish our own book of poetry.

Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing’s senior digital editor and a one-time beatnik-poet impersonator. You can email her your poems at [email protected].

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