Editing Engineer: Wentworth professor Frances "Jerry" Hopcroft helps colleagues go to press

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For the past 23 years, Francis J. (“Jerry”) Hopcroft has been teaching environmental and civil engineering at Wentworth Institute of Technology. As a Registered Professional Engineer who served in every New England state and a Licensed Site Professional in MA, Hopcroft knows well the subjects about which he teaches and also knows the region well.

Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that Hopcoft has written a series of  reference manuals that are used by colleagues throughout New England and elsewhere and that he also supports others in creating their own texts.

“I am the Collection Editor for a series of books on environmental engineering topics being published by Momentum Press,” explains Hopcroft, who recently retired from full-time teaching but still contributes to the Wentworth community as an adjunct professor and in other ways as well. “As such, I am always looking for professionals to write books on any environmental topic not already under contract.”

As the series Hopcroft is assembling consists of reference manuals and not textbooks, he suggests that it is not only a potentially lucrative pursuit but also an interesting one that allows and encourages colleagues to take what they know and share it in a unique way.

“They are more ‘how-to’ books than theory-based manuscripts,” Hopcroft advises, noting that each text consists of a maximum of 110 pages, including all images and graphs.

Among Hopcroft’s own books are Engineering Economics for Environmental Engineers and Wastewater Treatment Concepts and Practices. Whereas the former provides a basic understanding of the time value of money and how to use it when considering proposals and projects, the latter focuses on the chemistry and biology of wastewater treatment and discusses common techniques for effectively treating wastewater.

“Currently, I am working on a third book...that will provide 4,300 unit conversion factors for engineers and engineering students,” Hopcroft explains, “along with...translations of a series of environmental engineering terms currently being translated by Wentworth students into 14…languages to assist foreign students taking engineering courses in the US and US students taking engineering courses or working abroad.”

When asked how he became an editor for an entire group of books, Hopcroft explains that the process began when a representative of Momentum Press (www.Momentumpress.net) showed up in his office.

“They were looking for someone to write a book or two on an environmental engineering topic,” he recalls. “After a bit of discussion, and agreement to write the book on wastewater treatment, the discussion turned to the role of Collection Editor.”

In this role, Hopcroft identifies suitable topics, finds appropriate authors, develops a table of contents, and assists each author with their proposals and preparation. After reading every word of each text to ensure proper English and solid engineering are being used, Hopcroft passes the book on to the publisher.

Among the current topics with which Hopcroft has been involved are wind and hydraulic power, and climate change.

 “Topics for the books are selected from the knowledge and background of the Collection Editor and from topics suggested by others,” he says, noting that many arise either from new ideas and pursuits in the field or from potential authors proposing topics (which, Hopcroft notes, can be done by emailing him at hopcroftf@wit.edu). “The process of becoming an author is actually very simple…and all the books are published as e-books and as individual paperback print copies, which are available through various outlets, including directly from Momentum Press, Amazon, and others.”