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Engineering Essay, Research Paper


Engineering is a fundamental field of research and creation. Engineering originated in Europe and has spread throughout the world ever since. Big contributions to engineering have not mainly come from we, The Americans, but from people across seas, such as the Europeans. This paper is to recognize these big contributions to engineering from around the world.

This country has imported theories from abroad and concentrated on its application to concrete and immediate problems, such as the case of the Atom bomb (Science and Public Policy). Americans have made less than what they are expected to contribute to engineering. Instead Americans have showed how to apply pure science to engineering. This is what Americans are well known for and have been well known for. The Americans applied pure science to come up with the Atom bomb. Europeans are credited with fundamental engineering advances. Nations depend upon one another for engineering advances (Engineering in History). In other words, nations depend on each other to come up with new engineering plans to solve hectic problems that surround the engineering world today. The best way to find these problem solvers is through history. History is the way to finding out exactly what it is to be an engineer. Engineers can accomplish what is expected of them because they are standing on the shoulders of men who have gone before them (Engineering in History).

Records show that history of engineering is showed as progressive and cumulative. Progress indicates advances that are built upon and include previous existing knowledge (Engineering in History). Civil engineers are busying themselves with the art of the practical application of scientific and empirical knowledge to the design and production or accomplishment of various sorts of constructive projects, machines and materials of use or value to man. (Atomic Energy for Military Purposes) Three important phases of engineering include: Application of Knowledge, Design and Production or Accomplishment, and Use or Value. To understand engineering to the fullest, these three elements must be understood. Progress in engineering results from the accumulation of knowledge. Whatever is produced or accomplished must be of some use or value to us. Values are not measured by how much money is taken to build something magnificent, but by faith or beauty of the building itself. For example, the ancient pyramids may have taken a lot of time and money, but they were used for great rulers when they entered eternal death.

Engineering is basically a trilogy which contains: pure science, applied science, engineering; economic theory, finance and engineering; and third, social relations, industrial relations, engineering. (Engineering in History) Most engineering problems include pure science and social problems. Engineers are paid by society to work on systems dealing with problems whose solutions are of interest to that society. These systems are grouped by (a) systems for material handling, including transformation of and conservation of raw and processed materials; (b) systems for energy handling, including its transformation, transmission, and control; and (c) systems for data on information handling, involving its collection, transmission, and processing. (Engineering in History) By going by these systems engineers go through various activities such as engineering research, design and development, construction, operation, and management.

History of engineering that has been recorded dates back to about 3,000 B.C. Men settled in the Tigris-Euphrates and Nile Valleys solved a lot of problems in different fields of engineering. Such fields include: structural, hydraulic, transportation, and metallurgical engineering. Before 3,000 B.C. big palaces were built for princes and big temples for priests. Increases in wealth, political power expansion, and trade growth led to growth in the cities. This growth led to increase in engineering and knowledge. It also led to the construction of monumental tombs. Engineers solved transportation problems by learning how to build roads, bridges, and ships, which could travel great distances. Hydraulic engineering came into play when they placed open drains to remove surface water, and underground drains that kept building foundations from sinking into mud. Because food production was important, early engineers built levees, dams, reservoirs, and canals to prevent floods and to irrigate their crop. About 700 B.C. stone aqueducts were used to transport water from reservoirs to the cities.

Engineering came into being to solve new problems of a new society, but once engineering was established, there arose an interaction by which it in turn influenced the evolution of society. This state of affairs continues today and will continue to exist as long as civilization remains dynamic and maintains its evolutionary course. (Babylonian Problems) Babylonian engineers understood right triangles and computed areas of land. They also computed volumes of masonry, and cubic contents of an excavation for a canal. They solved a lot of types of simple algebraic equations and applied the principles directly to what they work on. Their base number was 60 instead of 10, which we use today to tell time and to measure angles. Babylonian engineers helped to build one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the hanging gardens of Babylon. Material used to bind bricks in this period was asphalt or bitumen. Early engineers never thought to use it for surfacing roads.

Engineers of Mesopotamia developed two kinds of arches during their period. The first was a corbelled, or false, arch built up with horizontal courses of brick or stone, each projecting slightly beyond the one below it until the two sides are met and closed the opening at the top. The principle of cantilevers could not be carried far with such materials. The corbelled arches of the engineers were therefore about spans, impressive neither in width nor in height. The second arch was a true arch, found in gates through walls. (Engineering in History) Engineers on the Arabian shore of the Red Sea in the tenth century built huge dams to store rains in the hills, save topsoil from erosion, and provide for irrigation. Among one of these dams was the Yemen Dam. This dam was one of the largest ever built. Hard-surfaced streets may have been one of the earliest achievements in engineering than sewer systems and water supply.

After 3,000 B.C. ships of different sizes were coming about. Designers applied knowledge of the working and joining of wood. Ships of this period were only moved by human effort.

Egyptian engineers increased in irrigation projects, great temples, and pyramids. Egyptian engineering was in the grand manner; its achievements were on a scale befitting one who called himself both a king and a god. (Egyptian Obelisks) Egyptians used wedges, mallets, chisels, straight levers, and inclined planes to create some wonderful works of art. It took skill in measuring distances and angles to transfer the plan of a structure of a pyramid from a drawing to the site, and the engineers proved they had this skill. The Great Pyramid at Gizeh contains 2 + million-limestone blocks. Historians believe that this pyramid served as an astronomical, or astrological, observatory. (Egyptian Obelisks) But the real question is how the Egyptians got the stones up and how they set them in place? To this day that question still remains, and probably will remain for a good while. These pyramids attract engineers to this ancient culture. Egyptian engineers solved most problems, but it is not clear in just what way they solved them. Engineers of ancient Egypt were among the first and few, to gain historic identity. They were appreciated in their own time and revered by succeeding generations. (Engineering in History)

The Greeks have been credited with the first real spirit of community living, and they have also been the first to strengthen concrete by using steel. Hippodamus developed a city plan that included streets, avenues, temples, theatres, gymnasiums, athletic fields, and monuments. Pytheos was one of the first of many Hellenistic engineers to train his apprentices in schools and to write treaties for the builders of the future. (Ancient Town-planning) Other outstanding engineers of the Hellenistic period were Dinocrates and Sostratus. Sostratus constructed the Pharos. Its lighthouse is made of marble and is called one of the Seven Wonders of the World. In Roman days, it was believed to have been seen from 35 miles at sea. If this is true, the Pharos must have been about 480 feet high. That about how tall the highest pyramid in Egypt is, and is only 70 feet short of the Washington Monument. If true, no taller lighthouse has ever been built. Alexandria, the best city of the Hellenistic period, must have been equipped with the latest public utilities. The Greeks investigations and discoveries in fields of science, which hardly stirred Roman minds, were to have incalculable influence upon engineering far beyond the Middle Ages. (A History of Science) Euclid organized and made original contributions to the mathematical knowledge of the time. His work constitutes for the most part the plane geometry still used, and parts of his book were still forming the basis of texts used in schools in the early twentieth century. (A History of Science) In the field of engineering, others at Alexandria appear to have been the first to outline basic principles of mechanics. Archimedes contributions in applied mathematics, specific gravity, the pressures of liquids, and the principles of the action of levers are fundamental for the engineer today. (Engineering in History) It is not easy to determine the effect which these books and experimental devices had in their own time upon practicing engineers. (Engineering in History) Hero was a great inventor of this period; he described a hydraulic clock, hydraulic organ, fire engine, force pump, air gun, steam turbine, and an automatic theater. These inventions might have been nothing but toys, but the way he applied principles is what counts. During Roman periods Hero s ideas got put to use.

Engineering can be described by two words, progressive and cumulative. It is something that will probably never stop growing. There is plenty more to find out about engineering. Maybe one day one of the Seven Wonders of the World won t be a wonder. Engineering today is based off the past of the engineering field. Engineers from ancient times contributed plenty of information on engineering. Today engineering is put to the test by building towering skyscrapers or long bridges, because of the knowledge the ancient people left behind it is not as much as a problem.


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