If you’re interested in science you may have heard of engineering, but may be unclear on what it really means: Here’s four basic concepts of engineering:
- Solving Problems Through Innovation.
Our lives are filled with problems that need solving, whether that’s small(-ish!) things like needing a charger to charge your phone or bigger things like access to clean water and decent transport. So how do these problems get solved? Sadly we don’t live in the wizarding world of Harry Potter so it’s not magic…. It’s engineering!
A fantastic example of engineering and problem solving is the telephone. Imagine you’re back in the early 1800s before telephones existed. You couldn’t just WhatsApp your friend if something amazing happened like spotting Ryan Reynolds (or the 1800s equivalent!), walking down the street. You had to write a letter which would take days to arrive! So when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone he transformed people’s lives, by providing a faster way to communicate.
- Using Science and Maths to turn ideas into reality.
Ever had a cool idea pop into your head and thought how on earth can I make it a reality? Well, that’s exactly what engineers do. They turn ideas into reality by applying the principles of science and maths. The outcome is incredible technology, systems and processes that solve problems in the real world. It’s really powerful stuff!
- Creativity and commercial viability.
Engineering isn’t just about the application of science, it’s about creativity, imagination and commercial viability. Someone may have a really interesting idea but if it’s not commercially viable then unfortunately the invention won’t be successful, just like the Concorde. When creativity, commercial viability and science are successfully combined, we see and experience the development of incredible life changing technology.
- Improving what already exists.
Engineering isn’t just about inventing new things, it’s also about improving what already exists. Telephones were invented 140 years ago, and since then we’ve seen leaps in the technology. Just think about how quickly we upgrade our mobile phones. Ten years ago the aim was providing personal communication devices. Now a focus is taking great photos and video for Instagram. Over time our problems change, and as technology becomes more integrated into our lives, engineering becomes more and more important.