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Mr. Melville's Lecture.


Chief Engineer G. W. Melville of the United States Navy delivered yesterday afternoon, in Sever 11, a practical and interesting address on the "Relation of Engineering Schools to the State and the Duty of the State to the Schools."

Mr. Melville said in effect: Less than a century ago an engineer would have seemed out of place before an audience in Cambridge. Now he meets with a cordial appreciation and sympathy, which is a token of the closer relations which are beginning to exist between the literary and the scientific professions.

Though the statement may cause surprise, it is nevertheless true, that the college owes to the nation a military duty, not merely in arousing patriotism, but especially in training capable engineers. It is becoming more and more evident that the engineer will be the great factor in modern warfare. The skill of a machinist in mounting a gun may determine the value of our coast defenses. The efficiency of the modern battleship depends upon the ability of the fireman behind the ram, and of the engineer who directs the machines within the vessel.

Now in educating a reserve of trained engineers for the time of war there is work for every scientific school in the country. The Naval Academy at Annapolis is either unable or unwilling even to supply existing vacancies on a peace footing. The national defense will never be secure until a systematic method of training our college students shall have been adopted in the universities. There are at least a score of institutions which could aid in carrying on the work now under government auspices. Therefore to formulate a plan whereby the work of West Point and Annapolis can be supplemented, ought to be the duty of a special commission, including scientific educators, and military and naval officers.

The work would be conducted under the supervision of government experts, and the competition would be equal for all students. The field for the best men would thus be broadened, and the benefits would be material and obvious. On the one hand, the government positions would be filled by capable and representative men, and, on the other, the standard of instruction would be raised.

Mr. Melville, after the address, entertained the audience with a vivid though informal account of the hardships of the "Jeannette" tragedy, of which he was the sole surviving officer.

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