Engineering: A Brief History

A lot of students nowadays are pursuing engineering as their choice of career given the abundance of technological advances and new opportunities that level out the playing field. As such, it’s important to know where engineering, a key concept to our world, was born. I know what you’re thinking, “this is gonna be a 10-page article about boring engineering facts”, but no. I’m going to stick to my promise and keep this brief.

Its definition is succinct, according to the Cambridge English Dictionary, engineering is “the study of using scientific principles to design and build machinesstructures, and other things“.

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Civil engineering, which focuses on structural designs of the physical environment, is its oldest field. Source: The Guardian

Since engineering is all about building, designing, and improving things, it’s safe to say that this has been around since ancient times. Structures like The Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza, and the Colosseum prove the ingenuity and creativity of ancient engineers.

Simple machines, such as pulleys, levers, and screws, were also developed at this time. In fact, these designs serve as a key part of modern manufacturing up to this day.

The Middle Ages, although chaotic in terms of politics and religious conquests, saw a vast improvement in engineering advances. Wind-powered machines (which have a very high energy return) were invented, and so were steam-powered engines, cotton gins and programmable machines. These inventions led to the development of new technologies in the Industrial Revolution.

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Windmills, which were developed in the Middle Ages, were a great source of mechanical energy. Source: Visually Through History

With the surge of new inventions and manufacturing techniques in the Industrial Revolution, it gave rise to new fields of engineering, specifically mechanical, electrical, chemical, and aeronautical engineering. Inventions such as electric motors, telegraph systems, and aircraft allowed people to have a higher level of living because engineers developed new technologies to improve people’s lives.

In the 20th century, aerospace and computer engineering are relatively new fields, with a focus on spacecraft design and computer technology respectively. Recent technological developments such as self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, and GPS made technology a significant part of our everyday life. Due to engineering, everyday processes are more efficient, productive, and easy. We no longer have to go to the library to find new books, we don’t have to go to wells to fetch water, and we don’t have to wait weeks to receive a response from a long-distance friend.

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We certainly don’t have to go to wells every morning to get a fresh drink anymore.
Source: San Antonio Express

Looking back, we have made so many technological inventions since ancient times. Who knows what we could achieve in the next 50 years?


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