Engineers: Inspiring Wonder

Posted February 19, 2018

What inspires you?  Amazing innovation?  Exploring unchartered territories? Finding a solution to a problem thought unsolvable?  Designing or building something that’s never been seen before?  All of these challenges inspire engineers to design, solve and create – from clean water and clean energy to buildings, bridges, highways, arenas and airports that provide safe spaces for living, working, traveling, and playing. From the first contraption built in a garage to the latest technological advances, engineers approach the world with flexibility, creativity and knowledge coupled with childlike curiosity. All around the world, engineers inspire wonder.  

February 18th through 24th is Engineer’s Week! Founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) in 1951, Engineer’s Week is one week of the year that we spread the word about how engineers better our world and help inspire the next generation of planners, surveyors, designers, and builders. It’s no secret that CHA wouldn’t be where it is today without all the hard work and effort our inspired engineers put into every project, no matter how big or small. In honor of these dedicated engineers, we are spending the entire week celebrating the many men and women who create the modern marvels that make our daily lives possible.

Without engineers, society would be radically different. Forget airplanes and cars. Big screen TVs and cell phones are out. Say goodbye to soda pop, clean water, central heating, and electricity. All the things we take for granted simply wouldn’t exist. The point is obvious: nearly everything we use in our daily routine can be attributed to the discipline of engineering. So, to kick off the start of another terrific Engineer’s Week, we thought about some curious engineering feats as a reminder of just how important engineering is to our world.

Did You Know?

The practice now known as civil engineering began almost 6,000 years ago, but the first engineer, Imhotep, wasn’t named as such until more than a thousand years later around 2,500 B.C. The term “civil engineering” wouldn’t be coined until the 1,700s to distinguish the work from military engineering. About a half-century after that, the first engineering school, the National School of Bridges and Highways in France, was founded in 1747.  And, it was almost 100 years later that Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute granted the first civil engineering degree in the U.S.

Did You Know?

From the Aqueduct of Segovia to the Coliseum, Roman architecture is known for its magnificent arches. Ancient Roman builders were the first to use arches as a structural basis, but their ingenuity was also responsible for another vital construction material—concrete. The earliest concrete was made from lime mortar, however, it would dissolve in water. Romans discovered they could add volcanic ash to this mixture to increase its water resistance significantly. They called their concrete “Opus Caementicium” and used it with stone to build many of the famous structures that are still standing today.

Did You Know?

Combined heat and power (CHP), a process for generating electricity and usable heat, is by no means a new innovation. The very first CHP plant is credited to Thomas Edison’s Pearl Street Station, the world’s first commercial power plant. Built in 1882, Edison’s power plant, and other early electrical production methods, would create large plumes of steam. The Pearl Street Station plant recovered this steam and sent it through piping systems to heat neighboring buildings, producing heat and electricity. In the years since Edison’s plant, CHP has become more efficient and is now one of the most reliable and cleanest methods for generating heat and power.

Did You Know?

Wastewater treatment is a necessity, but it often takes a toll on a municipality’s electric bill. What if there was a way to treat wastewater, cut down energy costs and reduce one’s carbon footprint? The secret is anaerobic digestion. In anaerobic digestion, bacteria break down organic material and belch out biogas – a gaseous mixture of two-thirds methane, one-third carbon dioxide, and trace amounts of other gases. Biogas can be burned on-site to generate electricity or purified to produce a clean-burning fuel. When anaerobic digestion is combined with a CHP system, the heat and electricity produced can power the entire plant!

This is just a sample of the many inspiring inventions engineers have created to make life easier, safer and more comfortable. We thank the many engineers in the world today and especially the engineers who bring their brightest ideas and dreams to CHA every day. Thank you for working together to responsibly improve the world we live in.