Eugene Lodewick Grant is a name not much heard around the great halls of modern engineering, but he was a stalwart in the field. Amongst select circles, he is best known for a book he published back in 1930 about engineering economics and quality control. Some feel that Grant could not get proper recognition despite receiving awards like the Shewhart Medal.
Early Life, Work, and Contributions
Eugene Grant hailed from Chicago, which was slowly evolving into an industrial hub in the roaring 20s. He had served the Navy during World War I after earning his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1917. Around 1920, he decided to join the faculty of the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Montana. Later during the year, the professor earned himself a master’s degree in economics.
He later joined Stanford’s Civil Engineering Department in 1930 where his teaching assignment led him to write the classic textbook on the principles of engineering economy. More books soon followed on varied topics like statistical quality control, the fundamental principles surrounding depreciation, and books across basic cost accounting. These tomes have gone a long way in silently influencing the field of modern engineering.
The professor headed the department until 1956 thereby taking up the role of heading the Committee on Industrial Engineering.
Grant’s contributions to Quality Control and Engineering
One of Eugene Grant’s best known contributions to the field of quality revolved around statistical quality control. His brilliance lay in the way he could perform thought experiments whilst keeping the practicalities in mind. His work and importance cannot be fully appreciated without first understanding the power of what they can achieve.
- Statistical Quality Control: Any expert would say that this is the term used to describe sets of statistical tools to study quality. Even to an engineering apprentice, the quality of finished products holds the greatest importance, as that is the only way economics can be successfully married to engineering to create sustainable profit synergies across the board.
Until the early 20th-century, quality was limited to disposing of defective products post-production. This system proved to be not only impractical but cost heavy as well. To counter this, the powerful mathematical tools of statistics were employed which gave way to a completely new way quality was viewed in industry and engineering. Injecting various variables of a production process into statistical equations would give ways to prevent a defect before actual production. These could be then leveraged to redesign and optimize processes as well.
Among Grant’s practices, he believed that at least 20 observations would be needed over at least two to 10 working days of any process to make any useful conclusions. The equations related to standard deviation would be leveraged to create bell curves which would then be studied. These measurements would help in quantifying the probability of a defect occurring in a particular manufacturing process.
Professor Grant’s books on statistical quality control throw deep insights into this field and the huge potential statistics has on quality and its control in engineering.
- Engineering Economics: It doesn’t require an expert to figure out that engineering and economics are two sides of the same coin. The challenge lies in its application wherein different factors of engineering and economics must be balanced to attain profitability of a product. Eugene Grant’s astuteness lay in this perfect confluence of the two fields where he could bring in methods to improve both profits and engineering processes.
There are various basic principles outlined before and improved upon by the late professor that revolve around simple but basic aspects of a manufacturing process. These would center around developing alternative solutions and focusing on the differences among them. His book on the subject, which was in its first publication in 1930 has since been translated into various languages across the world.
In conclusion, even though the name Eugene Grant doesn’t ring an immediate bell, he has done more than his fair share for the advancement of statistics in quality control. Even after all these years, his achievements and insights on the engineering economy continue to influence new students of the subject and will continue to do so for a great many years.