Efunda, I have an idea for you guys.
Don't think these guys are coming down too hard on you man. As an engineer you will quickly become tough skinned. People will question your decisions, try to shoot holes in your theory's, and make sure your designs run into all types of complications. So get use to being questioned, grilled and drilled.
I see the bennifits both ways, and the downfall of both ways. Your right in your statement that if someone wants to be an engineer/wanna be --- just buy the Machinery's Hand Book published by Industrial Press Inc. and the accompaning books "Machinery's Handbook Guide" and "Mathmatics at work" and learn a little Trig, Calc, Algabra etc... and there ya go.... instant engineer with a path to failure.
You have to learn the principles in order to be able to actually ENGINEER anything. Not just anyone can pull off being an engineer without the proper training. So I don't see a problem with setting up what you asked for -- except --- every situation has different variables --- therefore -- diff-E-Q -- You can let people know how to acquire it -- but you can't make them understand "WHY" you do what you do to get it. Therefore the old saying -"I know just enough to get my self in trouble" Thats probably what would happen. But then again... It might open up a whole new flurry of questions from those who do use them... Who knows .... its a variable I guess.
Still -- its a good food for thought idea and I for one appreciate your post.....