LETTERS TO THE EDITORS
Scientists vs. Engineers
To the Editors:
The interesting and insightful essay by Henry Petroski on "A
Great Profession" (Engineering, July-August) repeats a
common misconception—that Herbert Hoover graduated with a
degree in mining engineering. In fact, when Stanford University
opened its doors in 1891, it did not offer a wide curriculum. Hoover
wished to study mining engineering, but insufficient courses were
offered initially for a major, so he studied geology instead. While
at Stanford, he met a female geology student, Lou Henry, whom he
later married. Herbert Hoover’s 1895 A.B. diploma in geology
is often on display at the Hoover Institution of War, Revolution and
Peace on the Stanford campus.
Young Hoover's first job after graduation was as field assistant to
the famed minerals geologist Waldemar Lingren of the U.S. Geological
Survey, carrying out geologic mapping in California's Sierra Nevada.
His official field notebooks are in the possession of the USGS.
Prior to 1900 he published several brief geology articles in
The line between mining geology and mining engineering was
diaphanous in those days. In spite of his degree in the science of
geology, Hoover yearned to apply mechanics and economics to mining.
Less than a year after graduation, he entered the employment of a
San Francisco mining engineer—as a mining engineer. The rest