Writing about Nature's Tiniest Engineers: Harry N. Tuvel '74, '79

Written by: Christina Crovetto,
Ants, the Tiniest Engineers by Harry N. Tuvel P.E., P.P. '74, ’79 originated from a humanities class project assigned by the late Dr. Herman Estrin, professor of English.

They build bridges and tunnels, measure two millimeters long, and are unwelcome at picnics. Ants, one of nature’s most minuscule and fascinating creatures, are the subject of a children’s book by civil engineer Harry N. Tuvel P.E., P.P.’74, ’79.

Featuring images by his younger son, Eric Tuvel, and whimsical illustrations by Micah Ludeke, Ants, the Tiniest Engineers originated from a humanities class project assigned by the late Dr. Herman Estrin, professor of English, when Tuvel was enrolled in the early 1970s as a student in Newark College of Engineering. Tuvel had shown a copy of the book to his son Eric, an urban planner and graphic designer who decided on his own to recast the book with new graphics and present it to his father as a surprise birthday gift and self-published copies by Shutterfly. Tuvel, a professional engineer and planner at Tuvel Civil Engineering Services in Ridgefield, New Jersey, subsequently noticed an item in the John A. Reif, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s summer 2016 newsletter about a children’s book that students wrote with Tom Jaworski as faculty adviser and decided to approach NJIT about his own book.

“It seems to me that a children’s book that introduces engineering to young minds is a very worthwhile endeavor for an engineering university and also challenges engineering students to explain engineering principles in fundamental terms and ideas that children can understand, which was obviously Dr. Estrin's intent in giving this assignment,” Tuvel said.

For the past 20 years, Tuvel has been a professional engineer in private practice specializing in site development for both residential and commercial projects and municipal engineering. He has worked on a number of projects with his older son, Jason, who is a land use attorney. Prior to that, he was employed at Boswell Engineering as a project manager and also worked on the staff of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

What was his most memorable moment as an NCE student?

“There were a number, including being ASCE Student Chapter President and receiving the Ridgeway Award,” Tuvel recalled. “It was also memorable to be inducted into the Chi Epsilon, Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Xi (for my work as a research intern) honor societies.”

Now, over 40 years later, Tuvel hopes that his book will inspire the future engineers of the world, including his two grandchildren, Sienna and Zachary.

For more information, contact Tuvel at tuvelcivil@aol.com