The History of Engineering
At its core, engineering is the practice of exploiting basic mechanical principles to develop useful tools and objects. The concept of engineering has been in existence since ancient times, with the development of fundamental tools such as the wheel, pulley and lever.
Key advancements in the history of engineering during the modern era include: the emergence of mechanical engineering with the development of specialized machines during the industrial revolution, electrical engineering and the invention of the electric motor in 1872 and chemical engineering also developed in the 19th century, giving rise to the development of large scale manufacturing of chemicals and new industrial plants. More recently – aerospace engineering, including spacecraft design, was pioneered around the turn of the 20th century with significant developments occurring in the 1920s with the development of military aircrafts during World War 1. Engineers are shaping the developing world more and more each year.
The First Robot
While the “robot” might conjure up thoughts of a human-like machine such as Johnny 5 or the Terminator, the very first robot was far from the pop culture robots we think of today. The first robot was invented around 400 B.C. by the mathematician, Archytas, who as actually known as “The Father of Mechanical Engineering.” His robot was a steam-powered bird constructed out of wood and suspending from a pivot bar. In its best-recorded run, the bird “flew” about 200 meters before it ran out of steam.
The First Electric Car
While many may think the electric vehicle is a fairly new invention, the first electric actually dates back to around 1832 and is credited (among others) to Scotsman, Robert Anderson. He developed the first ever prototype of a crude electric carriage using a non-rechargeable battery. This inspired other inventors to continue experimenting with “horseless carriages.” Learn about how engineers are contributing to the autonomous vehicle industry.
The First Drone
What is a drone? A drone is more formally known as an unmanned aerial vehicle and is essentially a flying robot. They can fly autonomously through embedded systems and software-controlled flight plans, or controlled remotely. To increase their maneuverability and reduce their weigh, Drones or constructed of light composite materials enabling them to cruise at extremely high altitudes.
The first drone was actually created secretly during World War 1 by Charles F. Kettering alongside Orville Wright. This self-flying torpedo was capable of targeting enemy fortifications up to 75 miles away and worked by calculating the number of engine revolutions it would take to reach the target.
How Can Engineers be Innovative and Creative?
For today’s modern day engineer, the sky is the limit for the level of innovation and creativity that can be incorporated in new designs. With modern day innovations ranging from the self-driving car and to 3d printing to robotic limbs and the Digital-to-Biological Converter – there’s no telling where engineers may take us in the next century.