February 1, 2013

Happy Engineers' Month!

"Scientists investigate that which already is; engineers create that which has never been."
-Albert Einstein

Helical piles design mimics a screw
Engineering has been around for thousands of years. With recorded beginnings between 4000-2000 BC when the nomadic tribes in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia started to settle and develop towns and cities. The need for a strong, long lasting shelter, transportation and reliable water sources began the development, study and practice of various engineering principles.

Until modern times, civil engineering and architecture were considered one in the same; the titles used interchangeably. It wasn't until the 18th century that Civil Engineering was defined as all forms of civilian engineering, excluding military engineering.

A little bit of history
Before civil engineering was formally recognized as a profession, engineering was practised by artisans such as stone masons and carpenters. Training was received in guilds, which was often to the detriment of new advancements. This resulted in design that was often repetitive with incremental increases.

An early engineering feat used to understand buoyancy
However there were revolutionaries, such as Archimedes (3rd century BC), in the world of civil engineering who took a scientific approach to designing efficient solutions to society's problems. Archimedes is responsible for the Archimedes Principle which supports our understanding of buoyancy which was then applied to the design of Archimede's Screw.

Engineering is responsible for many of the Seven Wonders of the World. One of the first recorded instances of developing and applying structural engineering principles was in the building and design of the Pyramids in Egypt between 2700-2500 BC.

Many ancient civilizations embraced advancements made by Egyptians and utilized the knowledge in their culture's engineered applications. The Qanat (older than 700 BC) - a water management system, the Parthenon (447-438 BC), Appian Way - a strategic roadway - (312 BC) and the Great Wall of China (220 BC) are all feats of engineering.

Civil engineering was born...
The Institution of Civil Engineers was founded in 1818 in London. In 1828 Civil Engineering was formally recognized as a profession, receiving the Royal Charter. According to the Institution of Civil Engineers' charter:

"Civil Engineering is the art of directing the great sources of power in nature for the use   and convenience of man, as the means of production and of traffic in states, both for external and internal trade, as applied in the construction of roads, bridges, aqueducts, canals, river navigation and docks for internal intercourse and exchange, and in the construction of ports, harbours, moles, breakwaters and lighthouses, and in the art of navigation by artificial power for the purposes of commerce, and in the construction and application of machinery, and in the drainage of cities and towns."

What we now know as Civil Engineering is broken up into numerous sub-disciplines which include construction, geotechnical and structural engineering.

At JES we have a team of professional engineers, one of whom is a geotechnical engineer. Want to learn more? Read our engineers' profiles.

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