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Ketchum, Paul M. (ed.) / The Wisconsin engineer
Volume 42, Number 5 (February 1938)

Which handbook shall I buy?,   pp. 86-87


Page 86


WHICH HANDBOOK SHALL I BUY?
                                Representative Opinions
          * One of the first han(lbooks written and published
          in this country was the "Mechanic's and Engineer's
          Pocket-Book," which contained 284 pages and first ap-
          peared in 1843. As its title implies, it contained mate-
          rial of a mechanical nature. In 1872, Trautwine's
          "Civil Engineer's Pocket-Book" was put on the market.
          This book was written by one of the leading civil en-
          gin eers of the time and contained engineering data
          which lie had (collected during his lifetime. The well-
          known Kent's "Mechanical Engineer's Pocket-Book"
          apt)eared in 189 5, again the work of one man using
          material gained from his own experience.
          From this time on, a host of handbooks appeared.
          Some, like Kent, which were popular when our fathers
          went to school, are still published, others have gone
          out of existence. The trend turned from handbooks
          written by one man from his own knowledge to those
          supervised and assembled by an editor with broad
          experience, the individual parts of which were written
          by men who were experts in their particular fields. An
          outstanding example of this type is Marks' "Mechani-
          cal Engineer's Pocket-Book."
          As all users of handbooks know, each one contains
          a large section of basic material-mathematical tables
          andl other pertinent data-which is essential for refer-
 Mechanical Engineering
 by PROF. P. H. HYLAND
 D  UE to the enterprise of book publishers, the American
     people have become book minded to the extent that
their reading is now chosen for them painlessly by experts.
The engineering handbook field has not been ignored by
the publishers of technical literature, but so far no expert
agency has undertaken the responsibility of reviewing the
field and pointing out to the engineering student which
one of the several books covering his field of work is best
suited to his needs.
  The student is not always aware that handbooks are
edited by a person chosen by the publisher. The editor
then invites an expert to compile and submit a certain
number of pages of factual data covering his field of engi-
neering. The information presented is not always easily
digested by the engineering student, and because of his
limited experiences he is often incapable of using com-
piled data intelligently.
  Instructors of engineering students are often ap-
proached by students who, about to buy a handbook, wish
to get first-hand information about the book which is best
adapted to their needs. The instructor may be inclined to
recommend to the student his favorite book, which in
many cases may be unsuitable for the student.
  Lack of money usually limits a student to the purchase
     ence and use in engineering work. If two handbooks
     are available, there is a large duplication of this fun-
     damnental material, and to remedy this situation, the
     firm of John Wiley & Sons has brought out a connected
     series of handbooks. The first, Eshbach's "Handbook
     of Engineering Fundamentals," contains the essential
     basic tables, formulas, and general data in more com-
     plete form than was possible in the beginning section
     of one of the more specialized handbooks.
       This is followed at present by revised forms of
     Kent's handbook for the mechanical engineering stu-
     dent. This handbook of fundamentals is supplemented
     by more specialized handbooks in two fields-a re-
     vised Kent in the mechanical engineering field, and in
     the electrical engineering field a "Power" handbook by
     Pender and Del Mar, and one on "Electronics" by
     Pender and Mc Ilwain. In this new group, the tradi-
     tional "pocket size" has been discarded and a larger
     page size with a more readable type face substituted.
     In the following brief reports, members of the engi-
     neering faculty have attempted to give comparisons of
     the important available handbooks in each of the spe-
     cial engineering fields, with the hope that the students
     of this college may answer a little more satisfactorily
     the old question, "Which handbook shall I buy?"
of one handbook. In the field of general mechanical engi-
neering, the choice is perhaps between Kent and Marks.
  "Kent's Mechanical Engineers' Handbook"- 1th Ed.-
John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York. This handbook
is now published in two volumes and conforms to the new
size as recommended by the publisher of handbooks. Vol-
ume I covers the general field of power engineering, while
Volume II covers the field of design. The cost of each
volume is 65.00. These two books should be part of the
library of every practicing engineer, and are especially
adapted to his needs. The engineering student, however, is
often confused and sometimes discouraged when using
Student Using Handbook
The Wisconsin Ettgineer
P'a-e 86


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