Engineering and Ingenuity: defining possibility, designing solutions

One of the most enduring aspects of engineering whether complex or simple, is the ingenuity that motivates creative vision and effective solution.

Across all endeavours throughout history, resulting in the many disciplines of today – from medical to farming to space exploration – engineering is the tool we have used above all else to build and adapt our environment to suit us. Engineering presents a sense of creative satisfaction unmatched by many other professions.

We make it. We make it beautiful. We make it work.

Stonehenge: changing the landscape forever

If we have to look for the birthplace of our engineering minds, we probably have to go as far back as Stonehenge. It’s a monument that has endured for over four millennia; seventeen of the original upright stones still standing, five lintels still in their original positions – held in place by a simple “mortise and tenon” system of building. The originators re-energised the landscape with the scope of their unique vision, tenacity and purpose.

The Pyramids at Giza: four millennia and still commanding respect and attention

What makes older engineering endeavours extraordinary, is that the builders did not have access to any of our modern technology. The Great Pyramid was constructed through the novel idea of elevating bricks on slopes. The designers incorporated chambers and tunnels, both ascending and descending throughout the structure, offering access to a collection of sacred rooms. The method of building that they devised seems indestructible. The technology of the time had to meet the challenge of lifting the limestone blocks to their desired heights, as well as organising the manpower and resource delivery systems to ensure a constant and productive work pace on the structure – a mode of operation still familiar today.

The Colosseum: the beginning of more complex design

Completed in 80 AD, the Colosseum’s design, which incorporated complex acoustics and a seating arrangement that hosted 50,000 spectators, was only possible because of revolutionary techniques using materials such as Roman concrete. New processes of laying concrete and vaulted archways ensured structural stability. In addition, the amphitheatre sported a number of trapdoors and hidden entrances for the entertainment of the crowd. The entire building is a monument to engineering genius.

Panama Canal: making life easier

Completed in 1914, the Panama Canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and is 40 miles in length from shoreline to shoreline. It was crucial in providing a safer and shorter route for sailors who would have had to sail around the dangerous seas of Cape Horn to reach the Pacific. Because of the difficulty of the mission, the heat, the jungle, and the sheer size of the project, the Panama Canal is a worthy contender for one of our greatest engineering feats of modern times.

The Venice Tide Barriers: holding back the ocean

This is the world’s largest flood prevention project, and was instigated in 2003. This innovative engineering feat, consisting of 78 rotating gates, is designed to keep the sea waters from entering the Venetian Lagoon on flood and storm tides.  Each gate is 6,500 square feet, and consists of a large metal box filled with water that rests on the bottom of the sea. When a high tide of more than 3 ½ feet is forecast, the water is emptied from the boxes using compressed air, and the gates, now buoyant, will rise to the surface, thus blocking the sea from the lagoon. A plan ingenious in its simplicity.

Channel Tunnel: the world’s longest underwater tunnel

The Channel Tunnel is a 32-mile underwater rail tunnel that links England and France beneath the English Channel. Construction began in 1988 and was completed in 1994. A trip between the two countries now only takes 20 minutes. The Tunnel is a superb feat of modern engineering. A system of three tubes makes up the ‘Chunnel’ – two full-size tubes for rail traffic and one small tube in between for emergency access. The emergency tunnel was put to test when a fire on a train broke out a year after the tunnel was built. Thirty-one people were trapped and were able to escape safely using the emergency route.

Life today is the result of inspired engineering of the past

Everything about our lifestyles today is the result of engineering ingenuity: the motor car; computers; aeroplanes; water management; television; farming mechanisation; communications; nuclear technology; highways and bridges; new advances in health – the list goes on. There is hardly anything that we touch, or that touches us, that is not the result of the dreams, designs and engineering talents of the human spirit. When we engineer we find solutions, we devise innovation, and we make history.

Get in Outsource Engineers to handle your project

Imagine you could take your pick from a dream stable of just about every kind of engineering resource available at a moment’s notice. OutEng offers just that. Comprising a network of trusted, experienced and highly skilled engineers, project managers and technical people, including ECSA registered engineers in almost every discipline, all our engineers are freelancers or contractors who are contracted in per job as their skill is required. Each operates as an independent Business Unit, therefore covering own overheads (working from home or over weekends or remotely).

OutEng is setting new trends and standards in an agile, trust-based business style that is taking the engineering environment by storm. Across a multitude of cost-effective engineering and project services, you can expect:

  • solid expertise and experience
  • a unique combination of design, project management and engineering capability
  • well-informed professionals who are up to date with the latest research.

To find out more, visit: www.outeng.co.za

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