Glossaries of Engineering Terms
Glossaries of Engineering Terms
The museum started and has maintained the glossary since WWII. Sometime in the mid 80's SAE even started and began publishing their own glossary which is currently in it's second edition. They realized that without a glossary the context of terms and processes get lost over time.
Some basic automotive examples of the knowledge that can be saved with these glossaries:
1.) The word "car." At the turn of the 19th to 20th century car did not mean what it means today. Anyone researching automotive engineering data based on the word "car" can be drastically mislead by the information they find. How would that matter?
2.) The automobile began with the use of a lot wood. The properties of wood are very different than metal. Rather than fight the properties of wood early automotive engineers integrated the properties in to suspension design. The properties of wood defined body and body component fitment and alignment. The early engineers researched and defined how to use wood grain in design. Beyond possible restorations how does this even matter? When I was in grad school my advisor's other student was a structural engineer and his research was in the economics of wooden bridges and bridge component assemblies. His research was sought for and funded by one of the largest civil engineering firms there is. Their interest was in costs and not just initial costs. As infrastructure erodes they were interested in repair and maintenance costs along with the social costs of renewable resources compared to non-renewable resources. A lot of their bidding processes involves presenting alternative considerations and options which also motivated their interest in the research. Examining some similar research going on today and the interest in the use of wood has expanded to many more engineering disciplines including automotive.
3.) Manufacturing processes. Automation dominates production today but is automated production always the best choice? How to best use what is considered "outdated" methods isn't taught today. All that exists is in obscure or hard to find manuals and memories that are getting harder and harder to locate and requires an archive. Many methods are becoming "lost arts."
From what I see as the primary use of the archive beyond the reference to the museum's collection has to do with attempts to try and not "reinvent the wheel" when it's not necessary. Anyone that thinks there's a large measure of waste or silliness to this, try booking some time with the archive. Access has a considerable waiting list. The big three and many of the large industry suppliers have almost permanent seats in the archive. Museum support pays for a lot that but valuable information is maintained there if used.
Past observation and recent emails informs me that a lot of engineers\people are unaware of the existence of this and other archives. I suspect regardless of your engineering discipline there is an archive(s) available to you with information you will only find in them. If you're looking for specific information it often only takes a phone call or email to find out if and what's available to you.