The top 10 engineering feats of all time is an important topic of discussion. Since we have become very active on social media, we decided to reach out to you on LinkedIn and ask for your thoughts. Your responses followed a common thread: virtually every engineering innovation has been based on earlier innovations, and on the fundamental constants in physics. In Part I, we will focus on the top 5 engineering feats.
1. The Wheel
The earliest wheel dates back the 8th millennium BC. It was a wooden disk with a hole in it. It hasn’t changed much, except to be strengthened and lightened. The spoked wheel was introduced around 2000 BC, followed by the iron-rimmed wheel and the wheelbarrow. Since then we have witnessed the introduction of pneumatic tires, propellers, and turbines; modern renditions of a wooden disk with a hole in it. Your votes made the wheel the #1 engineering feat of all time.
2. The Harnessing of Electrical Energy
Electricity was known although not understood in ancient times. Benjamin Franklin didn’t discover it, he simply demonstrated how little we knew about it. Michael Faraday built on Franklin’s findings to lay the foundations of electrical engineering, Nikola Tesla invented alternating current (Mike), and the rest was history.
Edison did not invent the light bulb nor did Marconi invent the radio. Both built on previous efforts and concepts to make them practical. The greatest feat in electrical energy was learning how to harness it.
3. The Internet and Computing
The Internet would not be here if it were not for the harnessing of electricity (Dimitri), digital computing, and the transistor. It still deserves a place in the top 5 engineering feats because of its benefits to mankind. It features a world-wide broadcasting capability, and it is an invaluable disseminator of information as well as an interactive and collaborative medium for individuals, and regardless of their physical location. The concept was triggered by America’s reaction to Sputnik, and the development of ARPA, from which it evolved.
4. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Transportation is a classic example of evolution as opposed to invention. Steam-powered trains made it possible for man to travel faster than a horse could run (Ronald). First came the external combustion engine (steam) and later the internal combustion engine and electric motors. The Wright Brothers deserve credit for introducing the world to powered flight, but it was the evolution of the airfoil (design taken from the wing of a bird) that played the key role.
5. NASA and Space Achievements
Space exploration had its origins in World War II rocketry and Cold War ideological competition. There have been many outstanding greatest NASA and space engineering feats, from Project Mercury to receiving high-resolution images from Pluto. Our vote for the greatest feat of all is for the benefits gained from communications and weather satellite pioneering efforts, classic examples of piggy-backing on previous technical achievements (Mike Ellis, Orange Coast Pneumatics).
The top 10 engineering feats has been a topic of discussion for many years. Though all points are debatable, we hope you have enjoyed this blog. In Part 2, we will continue our discussion on the top 10 engineering feats. Stay tuned….
SMC Pneumatics USA, powered by Orange Coast Pneumatics Inc. (ocaire.com), is a National Elite distributor for the SMC Corporation of America. SMC offers 11,300 general pneumatics products, with over 560,000 variations, engineered to meet applications in every sector of the market, including pneumatics for wet environments. From Semiconductor to Automotive, Medical to Petroleum, SMC's products are designed to fit your unique requirements.
*All quotes were taken from our LinkedIn discussions. http://ow.ly/XhvfK http://ow.ly/XhviR