History questions are on-topic, as evidenced by the tag. In a similar vein, what about questions about engineers?

We had a similar discussion on HSM, where it was decided that

Questions on the personal lives of scientists should certainly be allowed, with the important caveat that the question has to be clearly relevant to the academic work of these people.

I think we should have a similar policy on Engineering: questions on engineers are on-topic so long as they relate to the engineering work of the engineer.

Should these questions be on-topic?

  • $\begingroup$ I really can't see why not. I guess we could use something like an "engineer-person" or "engineer-bio" tag $\endgroup$
    – cKrug
    Feb 6, 2015 at 19:55
  • $\begingroup$ I think this is on topic, but as you say, relating to the engineering work. This would also include work done as an engineering educator, researcher & academic $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Feb 7, 2015 at 0:47
  • $\begingroup$ I'd vote for on topic too as long as it refers to their engineering work (design, education, research,...) $\endgroup$
    – pandita
    Feb 7, 2015 at 4:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The tricky part of this would be determining how (and whether) to institute a notability requirement. Something Wikipedia deals with frequently owing to their visibility. Can I ask a question about one of my former professors, who holds the highest level of faculty title at my alma mater, and has been awarded ASCE's highest academic honor? What if he didn't get the medal? What if he got two of them? What if he's only a Full Professor, but he was on the news once? $\endgroup$
    – Air
    Feb 9, 2015 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Air I think that we could address that if and when we get a flood of low quality questions about people. I would be happy to set the bar very low, meaning any public role in engineering whatsoever. If I ask a self-answered question about myself, as CEO of a two-person consulting outfit, then I would expect it to be flagged as spam. But I could ask a relevant question about an engineer who has had one paper published, or sat on one public committee: I might have to wait a long time for an answer! $\endgroup$
    – dcorking
    Feb 11, 2015 at 11:16

2 Answers 2


Yes. It would be great to see questions like:

  • How did I.K. Brunel calculate the budget for the Great Western Railway?

I would also like to see questions about scientists who have had a significant impact on engineering. (I might call them 'honorary engineers.')

  • What equipment did G.I. Taylor use in his retirement for his fluid mechanics experiments?

If engineering experts can answer them, that is great, but it should be the choice of the questioner as to the kind of answer they want. If they choose History.SE or HSM.SE (both also beta sites) to get more expertise in interpreting historical documents, or evaluating the causes and effects of technology history, then that is fine by me too.

  • $\begingroup$ I think G.I. Taylor has been adopted by engineers, not just me, as suggested by the name of a Society of Engineering Science medal: ses.egr.uh.edu/node/1190 $\endgroup$
    – dcorking
    Feb 9, 2015 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure the examples you give qualify as questions about people. The first is about a particular method and the second is about particular equipment. $\endgroup$
    – Air
    Feb 9, 2015 at 20:42

Most questions about engineers are on topic. At least to the extent that they relate to engineering in some way.

Now, a question like, "Why did Engineer X date a woman not his wife?" would probably be off-topic (unless his "mistress" inspired or supported his engineering career in some way). But other questions like "Why did he change minors from physics to chemistry (thereby changing from mechanical to chemical engineering) would be on topic.

On the history of science and math site, I asked why Descartes went to Sweden in the context of his mathematical teaching career, which was on topic. "Why did Descartes RETIRE in Sweden?" might be off topic, unless it involved a new twist to his career.


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