Three times this year, we have devoted this column to citing some of the most important engineering developments in each of three fields: aerospace, automotive, and medical. We mentioned, for example, the Model T, Goddard's rockets, and MRI machines. But what has been the single biggest engineering story on the international scene? We would like you to tell us.
There are plenty of accomplishments to consider. There's the invention of television, the airplane, transistors, the microchip, computers, plastics, the Atomic Bomb, and, of course, the World Wide Web, all of which have had enormous international implications.
In recent years, there have been other notable engineering achievements, each of which involved teams from across the globe. Among them:
The International Space Station, now being developed and launched as an international effort. Whether it reaches its full potential is a matter of conjecture right now, but it is an excellent example of international cooperation.
Boeing's 777, which took its first commercial flight in June of 1995. Nearly 25,000 engineers worked on this mammoth project that lasted five years. Of the 545 supplier companies that played a role in the plane's development, 58 were located in 12 countries. Boeing even laid its own cable across the Pacific so it could exchange files with its Japanese partners.
Telescopes to explore the heavens, such as the VLT (Very Large Telescope) being developed by the European Southern Observatory for placement atop a mountain in northern Chile.
Any of a number of new cars developed in the U.S., Europe, or Asia with help from international teams of engineers and suppliers. So, what's the single biggest international achievement this century in engineering? You tell us. Write to me at email@example.com. We'll report your choices in a later issue, and let other readers agree or disagree.
According to a study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the factors in the collapse of the original World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, was the reduction in the yield strength of the steel reinforcement as a result of the high temperatures of the fire and the loss of thermal insulation.
Robots are getting more agile and automation systems are becoming more complex. Yet the most impressive development in robotics and automation is increased intelligence. Machines in automation are increasingly able to analyze huge amounts of data. They are often able to see, speak, even imitate patterns of human thinking. Researchers at European Automation
call this deep learning.
The promise of the Internet of Things (IoT) is that devices, gadgets, and appliances we use every day will be able to communicate with one another. This potential is not limited to household items or smartphones, but also things we find in our yard and garden, as evidenced by a recent challenge from the element14 design community.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.