19.07.29 The Art of Engineering

By Scott Shephard

In junior high I decided that I wanted to be a civil engineer when I grew up. I thought that designing and building suspension bridges and things like that would be a perfect career. But then I learned that math was involved and so I gave up on that. About that time, I read a biography of Michelangelo and decided that maybe I was a genius, too. I took oil painting lessons to untap my hidden talents. But my paintings were so bad that my parents put them behind the furnace in our basement, where they remained until they were destroyed at my request decades later. And so I eventually became an English, history and philosophy teacher. Of course, I have no regrets.

Only recently, have I realized that the thing that attracted me to engineering in my youth wasn’t the nuts and bolts (and math.) Instead it was the lines and curves. And the Roman Pantheon, pictured here, is a good example of the engineer’s art. Built about 1000 years ago, it was the first domed structure of its kind and became the model for many domed buildings and rotundas around the world.

It is my favorite building in Rome. I probably shouldn’t admit it but even though I’ve been lucky enough to visit this building many times, I get goosebumps every time I step into this place. I know that artists can manipulate emotions. So can engineers.

Canon 5DIII 1/60s f/4.0 ISO1000 16mm

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