## Top V Thoughts of Torkitus, Roman Engineer

This week, we will introduce another engineer from the past: Torkitus, Roman Engineer. Torkitus lived in the first century BC, when the Roman Empire was forming out of the Roman Republic.

These are the top V (5) thoughts of Torkitus, as a travels around Rome:

I.  I must remind the aqueduct contractor that water flows down grade, so looking at my design drawings backwards is no excuse.

II.  Why does that beautiful woman care more about the triceps on that soldier than my triangulations of the perfect location for the latrine?

III. I hope the emperor does not find out about that 1.4% increase in the cost of the arch bridge and have me wrestling lions again.

IV.  I could build a huge open stadium, a coliseum, and construct it so it could last C (100) years. That would be something!

V.  I should develop an entire system of weights and measures based on the number X (10), but with my luck, the entire world would adopt it except for the Roman Empire, the strongest country in the world.

## Torkitus Walks Around Rome

This week, we will introduce another engineer from the past: Torkitus, Roman Engineer. Torkitus lived in the first century BC, when the Roman Empire was forming out of the Roman Republic.

As Torkitus walked around Rome, he discovered many people with difficulties that could be figured out if only he had his abacus. One person needed to calculate the fastest way to Carthage or Smyrna. Another needed to figure out how much water to purchase for his entire household for the week. And another person needed help on the water/cement ratio of the concrete he was installing for his private road. (Concrete roads were all the rage.)

Torkitus solved all their problems by first solving his. He created a smaller version of the abacus and then, as engineers have a tendency to do, sewed a piece of cloth on the chest area of his tunic, and placed the abacus in it with a piece of thin copper sheeting in front to keep the abacus from harm from the hits the soldiers would give him as they walked by. In other words, Torkitus created his own pocket protector.

Torkitus was considered a geek. But he was a geek who was much in demand. So goes the engineer throughout history.

## You Might Be a Roman Engineer If…

– you ask a beautiful woman on an outing to “view the aqueducts”, she accepts, and, really, that’s all you do with her, view the aqueducts (and explain the hydraulic principles of how they work).

## IV

A number of weeks ago, we introduced Tork, Caveman Engineer. He was the first engineer in history – make that pre-history. Later, we introduced Torkus, Medieval Engineer, who lived in the difficult time of the Dark Ages and tried as he could to make the world a better place to live, as engineers are made to do. This week, we will introduce yet another engineer from the past: Torkitus, Roman Engineer. Torkitus lived in the first century BC, when the Roman Empire was forming out of the Roman Republic.

The number important to Torkitus was IV, or to us non-Romans, 4. This was not an engineering term, but one that made Torkitus realize that contracting out engineering services was sometimes a good thing to do.

Torkitus was the best known, most well-respected engineer of his day, so much so that he was hired as the emperor’s chief engineer. But, the emperor had high demands on Torkitus. He gave him IV main tasks: I – build an aqueduct system that would bring water to the cities, from the mountain springs, and include indoor plumbing in that project; II – construct a road system that could support inter-region commerce and the movement of troops; III – design and build building with arches and columns; and IV – devise and construct defense and weapons for the military.

“Oh, that’s all?” Torkitus mused to himself, knowing that any one of the tasks would consume him. So he did what any understaffed government employee would do – he hired consultants. These engineers were all gifted and had to bid for the contracts, and, as Torkitus read the names of the winning engineers, he stated, “These are the engineers for whom the contracts shall be let – Marcus, Anthonium, Maximus, and you, Brutus.” (Not the best three words to end the meeting on.)

Torkitus then managed the major areas and the Roman empire flourished. All of this thanks to the engineer, Torkitus. His success was Rome’s success, which was good, because failure meant torture and a miserable death.

## Torkitus – Roman Engineer

A number of weeks ago, we introduced Tork, Caveman Engineer. He was the first engineer in history – make that pre-history. Later, we introduced Torkus, Medieval Engineer, who lived in the difficult time of the Dark Ages and tried as he could to make the world a better place to live, as engineers are made to do. This week, we will introduce yet another engineer from the past: Torkitus, Roman Engineer. Torkitus lived in the first century BC, when the Roman Empire was forming out of the Roman Republic.
Torkitus grew up calculating his odds of getting a beautiful women, or any woman, to be his wife. Roman culture highly prized two things: strength, in order to be a good soldier for the empire; and oratory skills, in order to be able to debate points of culture, history, arts, etc. before a group of people. At this time, brains (which Torkitus had) and braun (which he did not) frequently were not found in the same person. As for oratory skills, Torkitus was an engineer. ‘Nuff said.

Torkitus, viewing a beautiful woman in his city, figured out his chances of gaining her attention as:

P = (0.5*S + 0.5*PS) * 100

where,

P = the percent chance that he will gain this woman’s attention and approval

S = Strength factor, from 0 to 1, how he compared to his male contemporaries

PS = Public Speaking, or oratory, skills, from 0 to 1

Needless to say, Torkitus’ odds, as he calculated, were not good. His equation told him he had between a 1.6 and 1.7% chance of marrying that woman. The interesting things is that engineers have been using equations like this, and far more complicated, often coded into computer programs, to this day in calculating the same thing – what are the odds of this girl I know to desire to date him (the engineer), with more a complicated equation for the odds of getting married.

And, as it is today, it was with Torkitus. Many engineers get married, as Torkitus did. They do not take into account in their equation the desire of the woman to have a stable, intelligent, consistent – albeit unromantic – man to marry.

Similar equation. Same wrong assumptions. Torkitus was definitely an engineer.

## Aeshtetic

The word “aesthetic” is not one most engineers will care to use. Aesthetic is the concept that something is visually appealing. From dictionary.com, the definition can include: pertaining to, involving, or concerned with pure emotion and sensation as opposed to pure intellectuality. So, get rid of your mind and feel it? I don’t think so.

Sure, a few engineers like to use this word and the concept in order to sell their design to the owner of a building or bridge or wastewater treatment facility, but for the most part, “aesthetic” is not part of the engineer’s vocabulary. Words like “sensible”, “functional”, and “efficient” are great words for engineers to use.

Another of the endless projects of mine is to develop the engineer’s non-dictionary or anti-dictionary. This would be a compilation of words that either are not in an engineer’s vocabulary or ones that the engineer wishes would never have been invented. “Aesthetic” will be one of the first words in it, not only because it starts with an “a”, but because if what it represents. It will be right up there with “artsy” and “feelings”.

## He Used to Be an Engineer

I have a friend named, “Marc”. That is not his real name, but to keep him from scorn and abuse from engineers, I have decided to protect his identity.

Marc used to be an engineer. Yes, he went to school for engineering, got a job as an engineer, and worked for a number of years designing buildings and the systems that go into them. But, then something happened. Did he die? No. Did he suffer some horrible accident? No. Did he develop amnesia after being poisoned from eating those little humidity control packets in electronic packages, the packets that clearly say, “Do not eat!”? If it were only that easy to figure out.

Marc turned away from engineering and became…. I even hate to mention it…. he became…. he left engineering to…..  he decided to change careers and…

OK, he became an architect! An architect! In the engineering circles in which I travel, we call that being a traitor, a turncoat. Marc says he is still an engineer, but I remind him that his is not. And here is the reason. Engineers are practical, pragmatic, and sensible. Architects are always figuring out how to make things “look” better. They are all into the feel and ambiance of a building or other structure. Hopefully, you will see (and I am sure any engineer reading this would see) that the two cannot live together in peace. I was half-way through a writing a letter to his college explaining to them why they should take Marc’s engineering degree back, when I stopped and realized that he was actually a friend of mine and that loyalty should count for something. I never finished the letter. But now I am wondering whether I am going as soft in the head as he has in taking this rather artsy approach to life, being an architect.

## You Might Be an Engineer If…

– you have taught your 8-year-old child to do a b/c (benefit/cost) calculation before deciding on whether to purchase a video game (and the kid has never bought one because of this).

## 3

3 is a number of simplicity and engineers use it to count the number of essential questions to ask when deciding to purchase an item. Here they are:
1. How much does it cost?

2. How long will it last?

3. Will it cause me to socialize with people?

The answer to 1. should be very little.

The answer to 2. should be very long.

The answer to 3. should be, “No.”

There is an expanded list we may cover in later posts, but these three pretty much sum it up. The implications are simple. The answers should be straight forward. No whimpy, “Will I feel better with this item?” If it is needed (which is really the first deal-breaker of a question) then the engineer will work through these three questions.
What could be easier?

## b/c

A calculation near and dear to any engineer is b/c.

b/c is not short for because to an engineer. It represents the ultimate in engineering decision-making. The “b” represents the benefit an item or service has to the person buying it, and the “c” represents the cost. b/c is the benefit compared to the cost or, as engineers like to say, the benefit-cost ratio. The word “ratio” just adds an engineer-ish feel to it.

Engineers use the b/c ratio to determine if it makes sense to build a large factory, or set up a distribution center, or construct a highway, or dam up a river.

An engineer will also use the b/c ratio in his own life, to determine if it is wise to buy a certain car, or house, or make any other large purchase.

But, what an engineer will do even beyond this is to calculate b/c ratios for pretty much any area of life. Should one buy this pen? Calculate the b/c ratio. Should one get the air conditioner fixed in the car? Calculate the b/c ratio. Should one get married. Sure, why not calculate the b/c ratio.

b/c ratios are powerful tools and in the right hands, the hands of an engineer, they become the essence to an efficient existence.