How to Engineer a Better World
by Guru Madhavan
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Pub Date 26 Mar 2024 | Archive Date 29 Feb 2024
An ode to systems engineers—whose invisible work undergirds our life—and an exploration of the wicked problems they tackle.
Our world is filled with pernicious problems. How, for example, did novice pilots learn to fly without taking to the air and risking their lives? How should cities process our waste without polluting the environment? Challenges that tangle personal, public, and planetary aspects—often occurring in health, infrastructure, business, and policy—are known as wicked problems.
In Wicked Problems, engineer Guru Madhavan examines historic tragedies and lesser-known tales, from the efficient design of battleships to a volcano eruption that curtailed global commerce. Braided throughout is the uplifting tale of Edwin Link, who revolutionized aviation with his flight trainer. In Link’s story, Madhavan uncovers a model mindset to engage with wickedness. An homage to society’s innovators and maintainers, Wicked Problems offers a refreshing vision for readers of all backgrounds to build a better future.
About the Author: Guru Madhavan is the Norman R. Augustine Senior Scholar and senior director of programs at the National Academy of Engineering. He is a prize-winning author of essays and books, including Applied Minds: How Engineers Think.