Built : The Hidden Stories Behind our Structures

4.1 (360 ratings by Goodreads)
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Imagine you woke up one morning to find everything created by engineers had disappeared. What would you see?

No cars, no houses; no phones, bridges or roads. No tunnels under tidal rivers, no soaring skyscrapers. The impact that engineering has had on the human experience is undeniable, but it is also often invisible.

In BUILT, structural engineer Roma Agrawal takes a unique look at how construction has evolved from the mud huts of our ancestors to skyscrapers of steel that reach hundreds of metres into the sky. She unearths how engineers have tunnelled through kilometres of solid mountains; how they've bridged across the widest and deepest of rivers, and tamed Nature's precious - and elusive - water resources. She tells vivid tales of the visionaries who created the groundbreaking materials in the Pantheon's record-holding concrete dome and the frame of the record-breaking Eiffel Tower. Through the lens of an engineer, Roma examines tragedies like the collapse of the Quebec Bridge, highlighting the precarious task of ensuring people's safety they hold at every step.

With colourful stories of her life-long fascination with buildings - and her own hand-drawn illustrations - Roma reveals the extraordinary secret lives of structures.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 32mm | 615g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • b&w illustrations throughout
  • 1408870363
  • 9781408870365
  • 42,538

Review quote

A fascinating celebration of the impact that structural engineering has on all our lives...[an] eye-opening book * The Sunday Times * Agrawal has a gift for rendering complex phenomena in simple terms...a real treat * Financial Times * [Agrawal] weaves accessible explanations of scientific principles together with engaging historical stories and personal anecdotes...[a] timely and impassioned book * Guardian * Agrawal is a rarity: a female structural engineer in an adamantly male profession ... She will inspire young women who are considering a career in engineering ... [S]he shines when explaining the sorts of things people might be too shy to admit they find inherently fascinating * New York Times Book Review * In Built... [Agrawal] delves into the history of her discipline through Brunel's tunnels and Bazalgette's sewers and lingers tactfully over the hidden flaws and engineering disasters of the past from which so much has been learned * Times Literary Supplement * Agrawal has just launched her first book, Built, the latest salvo in her crusade to get us to see the world "through different eyes, the eyes of an engineer" * i Magazine * This fascination is communicated with flair and passion in a highly engaging debut book that will appeal to the engineer and the inquisitive layperson alike * E&T Magazine * A wonderfully absorbing book about an engineer and her passion for construction * Professor Mark Miodownik, materials engineer, broadcaster and author of Stuff Matters * Roma makes the complex principles of structural engineering accessible to everyone with clear explanations and engaging illustrations. It has made me suddenly look at every building I pass in a new way * Ellen Stofan, former Chief Scientist at NASA * A charming tribute to one woman's love of engineering. Full of fascinating facts and personal stories * Angela Saini, author of Geek Nation * A necessary reminder of the wonderful human ingenuity behind the world's greatest engineering projects, from Roman aqueducts to London's magnificent Shard. Built will inspire readers of every stripe * Erica Wagner, author of Chief Engineer * A book about real engineering written by a real engineer who can really write * Henry Petroski, author of The Road Taken * A passionate, often personal love letter to the science of structure. Whether exploring Pompeii or assembling pineapple upside-down cake, Agrawal's journey will change the way you look at the structures you take for granted * Jennifer Ouellette, author of The Calculus Diaries * Roma Agrawal is a much-needed role model for the next generation of engineers. Most girls never give a thought to civil engineering as a career. The book will change that * Rob Eastaway, mathematician and author of Any Ideas? Tips and Techniques for Creative Problem Solving * Roma Agrawal makes engineering thrilling, accessible and thoroughly enjoyable. Built is another great example of how women can write brilliantly about so-called male subjects. Bring on the female engineers! * Andrea Wulf, historian and author of Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens * How come we have skyscrapers, bricks, bridges and tunnels? It's down to structural engineers, but who are these awesome makers? Men in hard hats? Not necessarily! Roma Agrawal has helped to design some iconic structures that grace our cities. Here she gives an insider's captivating account, so rich in history and so full of verve that she is bound to make others want to follow in her footsteps. Built reveals how human ingenuity keeps us safe from the raw forces of nature, all in a style that is down-to-earth as well as funny and personal * Uta Frith, psychologist and author of Autism: Explaining the Enigma *
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About Roma Agrawal

Roma Agrawal is a structural engineer who builds big. From footbridges and sculptures, to train stations and skyscrapers - including The Shard - she has left an indelible mark on London's landscape.

She is a tireless promoter of engineering and technical careers to young people, particularly under-represented groups such as women. She has advised policymakers and governments on science education, and has given talks to thousands around the world at universities, schools and organisations including two for TEDx.

Roma has been awarded international awards for her technical prowess and success in promoting the profession, including the prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering's Rooke Award. She was awarded an MBE for services to Engineering in 2018.

Roma has published articles on engineering, education and leadership, as well as being a television presenter. Roma is soon to appear on LEGO Masters on Channel 4, putting her engineering knowledge to use in judging structures built solely from LEGO.

BUILT is her first book.

romatheengineer.com / @RomaTheEngineer
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Rating details

360 ratings
4.1 out of 5 stars
5 38% (137)
4 39% (141)
3 19% (67)
2 4% (13)
1 1% (2)
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