The Testing of Motive-Power Engines Including Steam Engines and Turbines, Locomotives, Motives, Boilers, Condensers, Internal, Combustion Engines, Gas Producers, Refrigerators, Air Compressors, Fans, Pumps, Etc
Many changes have taken place within recent years in the opinions held upon that part of an engineer's training which can be carried out in a college. For long the practising engineer looked with considerable suspicion upon the college-trained product, and even now it can scarcely be said that a man with a degree or diploma is welcomed with enthusiasm into the majority of works in this country.
There is no doubt that there has been, and may be even at the present day in some cases, grounds for thinking that the college student is not all he should be. The peculiarly academic type of teaching given in the early days was scarcely conducive to the production of capable and efficient engineers, and explains in some measure the reason for the small amount of encouragement given by our manufacturers towards engineering colleges.
It can, however, be now safely said that the value of a college training is becoming more and more recognized all over the kingdom. In Glasgow in particular an organized scheme of combined works and college training, with which the majority of the leading engineering firms of the district are associated, has now been in operation for several years.
It is the writer's opinion that nothing has done more to bring about this improved state of affairs than the increased amount of laboratory work that is now given in engineering colleges. By many teachers the laboratory is now looked upon as the most important feature in the college, and how marked that feeling is may be seen by considering the changes that have taken place during the last ten years upon ideas of laboratory equipment.
The class of work now done in the laboratory is also much altered for the better. It is to be feared that very often the laboratory was looked upon solely as a place where some elementary facts of engineering could be taught in an interesting fashion. The taking and criticizing of indicator diagrams with correct and incorrect valve settings, or the breaking of some specimen in a testing machine, was looked upon as the most important work that could be done.
It is generally stated even now, as if this were its chief end, that the laboratory is the place where the principles given in lecture can be practically illustrated. But a laboratory may serve an even higher purpose than this, as it may be the cause of bringing the student to criticize many of these same principles.