Wicked Problems: How to Engineer a Better World (Kobo eBook)

Wicked Problems: How to Engineer a Better World By Guru Madhavan Cover Image
Available Now


An ode to systems engineers—whose invisible work undergirds our life—and an exploration of the wicked problems they tackle.

Our world is filled with pernicious problems. How, for example, did novice pilots learn to fly without taking to the air and risking their lives? How should cities process mountains of waste without polluting the environment? Challenges that tangle personal, public, and planetary aspects—often occurring in health care, infrastructure, business, and policy—are known as wicked problems, and they are not going away anytime soon.

In linked chapters focusing on key facets of systems engineering—efficiency, vagueness, vulnerability, safety, maintenance, and resilience—engineer Guru Madhavan illuminates how wicked problems have emerged throughout history and how best to address them in the future. He examines best-known tragedies and lesser-known tales, from the efficient design of battleships to a volcano eruption that curtailed global commerce, and how maintenance of our sanitation systems constitutes tikkun olam, or repair of our world. Braided throughout is the uplifting tale of Edwin Link, an unsung hero who revolutionized aviation with his flight trainer. In Link’s story, Madhavan uncovers a model mindset to engage with wickedness.

An homage to society’s innovators and maintainers, Wicked Problems offers a refreshing vision for readers of all backgrounds to build a better future and demonstrates how engineering is a cultural choice—one that requires us to restlessly find ways to transform society, but perhaps more critically, to care for the creations that already exist.

Product Details
ISBN-13: 9780393651478
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: March 26th, 2024