From the Editor

Agood friend of mine had an oven/cooktop that decided it would rather not cook things anymore. After much pleading and attempts to compromise, it remained uncooperative. She and her husband took the opportunity buy their dream oven unit, which required them to order it from out of state. While they waited for the new, willing-to-do-its-actual-job oven to arrive, they needed some kind of cooking option to feed her family of six and purchased a counter-top air fryer. When the new oven arrived, she asked if I wanted the air fryer, as she didn’t really have the counterspace for it. I don’t either, at home, but I keep a cooking appliance in my office at work.

I’ve never owned an air fryer, and if this one ever had a manual, it was lost shortly after its unpacking. So after I took it into work and plugged it into the wall, successfully cooking my bagel was between me and the machine.

This particular model has a few buttons and a knob, and after a few minutes of tinkering with them, I was confident I could put a thing in it and the thing would come out toasty. I was, in fact, successful.

That, in and of itself, is a testament to the marvels of engineering. Engineering an item requires taking into consideration endless details, from safety requirements to energy efficiency to ensuring the user can interact with the item so it can fulfill its purpose.

In this issue’s Architecture & Engineering special section, “Top Shelf” is an excellent example of engineering and architecture in action. Anchorage eatery Whisky & Ramen renovated a historic building with a high-end, comfortable restaurant in mind. Guests in the restaurant can observe and appreciate many of the design choices; they will be completely unaware of thousands of other decisions made that transformed the old building into one of Anchorage’s dining hotspots.

Some of the best engineering we ever experience is the engineering we don’t notice at all. Interior design or lighting choices that we don’t consciously notice that put us at ease or build up our energy, or user interfaces executed so well it doesn’t occur to us to question them.

Modern life is an engineered life. We live surrounded by infrastructure, equipment, and other items engineered to solve our problems and suit our needs. And they do such a good job that we notice them most when the tools and infrastructure we enjoy don’t work as expected—when the oven goes on strike over cooking a casserole.

Tasha Anderson Picture
Tasha Anderson's signature

Tasha Anderson
Managing Editor, Alaska Business