German engineers, scientists, and manufacturers returning from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition expressed their opinions about the U.S. in the February 9, 1905, issue. According to the report, German experts thought they had found defects in many parts of the American system, problems they believed would eventually weaken our country's grasp upon international trade.
Their main gripe concerned "a general feeling of complacent satisfaction with everything American, a secure conviction that whatever is done or produced by them is the best, and that they have only to keep on as they have begun to have the future securely in their hands."
Trashing the suggestion box
According to the February 16 issue, the British had tried and rejected the suggestion box, an idea "imported" from America. Editors quoted The Engineer, an English publication, which gave the following reason for the failure: "To invent or devise the improvement of a method involves an action of the imagination. Imagination of the kind may, and does from time to time, spring in brains not specially trained, but as a rule it is the outcome of education. The works manager is not born; he is made. . . It is therefore only in very simple cases that the workmen's powers are likely to meet a problem which they are capable of solving, and such simple problems are more likely first to present themselves to the manager and his assistants."
AMERICANMACHINIST editors disagreed with the Brits, saying, "We feel confident that men in shops here or elsewhere can, and will, make valuable suggestions regarding the work if the conditions are made right for their doing so."
Wrong on both counts
A February 23 article included comments from a Glasgow University professor's lecture on engineering structures. In it, he said he doubted anyone could build a bridge more than two-thirds of a mile long. But plenty of bridges top that number. The Golden Gate Bridge, for instance, is 1.7-mi. long and Japan's Akashi Kaikyo is nearly 2.5 mi.
The professor was also wrong about another matter. He didn't think flying machines would be in use anytime in the near future. He obviously hadn't heard about the successful Wright Brothers flight more than a year earlier.