Professor’s radio show streams on
University of Houston professor and creator of the radio show, Engines of Our Ingenuity, celebrates the 25th year of airing.
John Lienhard, emeritus of Mechanical Engineering and History, created the show to recognize human creativity of inventions that make our civilization operate.
“Humans have the capacity to invent, create and do good things,” Lienhard said. “It’s fascinating to see culture formed by human creativity. I wanted to share my interest with the public.”
Engines of Our Ingenuity was originally two to three minute stories hosted and written by Lienhard. In 2001, other voices were added to the show: UH faculty, engineers and people from humanities believing technology serves as a basic culture building block, Lienhard said.
“The contributing writers and myself are the engines behind what you hear,” Lienhard said. “We are real people drawn in by an aspect of human ingenuity in motion.”
The show is aired on more than 30 National Public Radio affiliates, five days a week, Lienhard said. The first station to produce the show was KUHF-FM, Houston. The writers volunteer to share history with the public and write for free.
“The audience is a participant,” Lienhard said. “You can sense their reaction.”
Lienhard writes his stories based on the interest of the public.
“Technology has allowed humans to be more knowledgeable,” Lienhard said. “The internet has helped to develop access to unique areas of history, allowing the human mind to understand the past in areas other than their own expertise.”
The radio show has gone from editing audio tape with a razor and Scotch tape to editing audio on-screen. Making the stories available in Spanish, podcast and classroom support.
“Many people believe technology has corrupted the human mind,” he said. “I believe it has allowed humans to retain history from many generations back.”
The stories provide insight on inventions such as cable cars, civil war submarines, Victorian science and the barcode.
“Making a radio program hardly differs from designing and manufacturing a product,” Lienhard said. “Users are the final product of design. Listeners are the people who have determined this series form and shape and for that, I’m thankful.”