Great Courses Company: Everyday Engineering

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I always knew that houses were complex systems of systems, but I never fully appreciated all of the aspects of engineering that go into making them snug, safe, and efficient.

Thanks to Dr. Ressler and The Great Courses Company’s Everyday Engineering course, this non-science mama is now able to appreciate how rain water does not pool around the foundation of a house, marvel at how the use of my toaster causes an imbalance in an electrical grid far away and yet automatically rebalances itself through the synchronizing of AC power, and I now have an understanding of “load bearing walls” that didn’t come exclusively from HGTV home remodeling shows. I have no idea why I *need* to know these things but Dr. Ressler makes me *want* to understand them and helps me to genuinely appreciate the “how” of it all.


I have an engineering-minded eight year old. Since his earliest play, he preferred tinker toys to trucks, blocks to books (unless he could use the books to build complex houses), folding and origami to football, and snap circuits to skateboards or skis. It became obvious early, that nothing would make him happier than being able to manipulate his environment and understand the esoteric ideas of engineering. What shocked me in particular is how much *I* am enjoying studying these things with him, and that is directly related to the expert teaching that Dr. Ressler employs in his 3 Great Courses Company engineering courses.

The Great Courses Company Courses are not made for young viewers. With the exception of their emerging High School line of products, most of their courses are made with adult viewers in mind. While always appropriate to the context, the courses sometimes have language or content that isn’t ideal for children. Everyday Engineering, on the other hand, is completely family friendly.

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The engineering that goes into making our homes do what we want them to do is simple and it is also sophisticated. This course is very technical in its explanations, but Dr. Ressler is a genuinely fascinating instructor. He is an interesting storyteller, he is very hands-on, doing lots of demonstrations, and he uses a high volume of photos, maps, videos, and illustrations. I can’t imagine an engineering course being made more accessible than this one.

As I mentioned, my 8 year old is watching these courses and learning quite a bit. Because we purchased this course (as opposed to using the Great Courses subscription program), my son will able to re-watch these many times over the next decade, as he grows in his understanding, and develops his math skills. In the interim, he is developing a rich appreciation for the concepts and the consequences of “everyday engineering”. It has absolutely enhanced the complexity of his building with K’nex and Snap Circuits.Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 4.35.16 PM

I hope that Dr. Ressler continues to partner with The Great Courses Company to make more courses. He has become one of our favorite GCC instructors!

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