Engineering is the use of physics to design something – such as machines, electrical devices, buildings, vehicles, and infrastructure. In this unit we will examine:
historical engineering achievements
modern day engineering in action
proposed extreme engineering
Forces on a structure
When engineers design a building or vehicle they have to consider all of the forces, on every element, in the structure. It doesn’t matter if they are designing a building, airplane, overpass or tunnel – it all comes down to using Newton’s laws.
What kind of engineering – applied physics – is used in building things Let’s use an app to study the effect of changing forces, loads, materials and shapes, on a structure.
Forces: Forces act on big structures in many ways. Click on one of the actions to explore the forces at work and to see real-life examples. Squeezing, stretching. bending, sliding, twisting
Loads: All structures must withstand loads or they’ll fall apart. In order to build a structure, you need to know what kinds of external forces will affect it. Weight of structure, weight of objects (live load), soft soil, temperature, earthquakes, wind, vibration
Materials: What you build a structure out of is just as important as how you build it: Put these to the test – wood, plastic, aluminum, brick, concrete, reinforced concrete, cast iron, steel
Shapes: The shape of a support affects its ability to resist loads.
Engineering An Empire
Engineering an Empire is a program on The History Channel that explores the engineering and architectural feats of some of the greatest societies on this planet. It is hosted by Peter Weller, famous as an actor, but also a lecturer at Syracuse University, where he completed his Master’s in Roman and Renaissance Art. Episodes cover: Rome Egypt, Greece, The Aztecs, Carthage, the Maya,
Engineering in the 1400’s
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was an Italian painter, architect, inventor, and student of all things scientific. His natural genius crossed so many disciplines that he epitomized the term “Renaissance man.” Today he remains best known for his art, including two paintings that remain among the world’s most famous and admired, Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Largely self-educated, he filled dozens of secret notebooks with inventions, observations and theories about pursuits from aeronautics to anatomy. But the rest of the world was just beginning to share knowledge in books made with moveable type, and the concepts expressed in his notebooks were often difficult to interpret.
As a result, though he was lauded in his time as a great artist, his contemporaries often did not fully appreciate his genius—the combination of intellect and imagination that allowed him to create, at least on paper, such inventions as the bicycle, the helicopter and an airplane based on the physiology and flying capability of a bat.
Modern Marvels, S11 E56 Da Vinci Tech
Engineering An Empire, Da Vinci’s World, The History Channel
The Industrial revolution, 1800’s
Engineering subways, 1800’s
In the late 19th century, as America’s teeming cities grew increasingly congested, the time had come to replace the nostalgic horse-drawn trolleys with a faster, cleaner, safer, and more efficient form of transportation.
Ultimately, it was Boston — a city of so many firsts — that overcame a litany of engineering challenges, interests of businessmen, and the fears of its citizenry to construct America’s first subway. Based in part on Doug Most’s acclaimed non-fiction book of the same name, The Race Underground tells the dramatic story of an invention that changed the lives of millions.
- Then & Now: Boston in the Early 1900s
- Preview: The Race Underground
- Bonus Video: MBTA Signal School
- Map, interactive: What the Maps Miss
- General Article: The Forgotten Hero of the American Subway
- Bonus Video: Chapter 1
Boston’s Big Dig (1991-2006)
Protecting Boston from rising tides, 21st century
How can we protect Boston from rising sea levels? Let’s look at the engineering proposals!
Extreme Engineering, 21st century
Now that we know what engineering is and how it has been used, let’s look at some proposed mega-engineering projects, such as Tokyo’s Sky City, a trans-Atlantic tunnel, and space elevators.
2016 Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework
HS-PS2-1. Analyze data to support the claim that Newton’s second law of motion is a mathematical model describing change in motion (the acceleration) of objects when acted on by a net force.
HS-PS2-10(MA). Use free-body force diagrams, algebraic expressions, and Newton’s laws of motion to predict changes to velocity and acceleration for an object moving in one dimension in various situations
2016 High School Technology/Engineering
HS-ETS1-1. Analyze a major global challenge to specify a design problem that can be improved. Determine necessary qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions, including any requirements set by society.
HS-ETS1-2. Break a complex real-world problem into smaller, more manageable problems that each can be solved using scientific and engineering principles.
HS-ETS1-3. Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, aesthetics, and maintenance, as well as social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
HS-ETS1-4. Use a computer simulation to model the impact of a proposed solution to a complex real-world problem that has numerous criteria and constraints on the interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem.
HS-ETS1-5(MA). Plan a prototype or design solution using orthographic projections and isometric drawings, using proper scales and proportions.
HS-ETS1-6(MA). Document and present solutions that include specifications, performance results, successes and remaining issues, and limitations.
Appendix VIII Value of Crosscutting Concepts and Nature of Science in Curricula
Cause and Effect: Mechanism and Explanation. Events have causes, sometimes simple, sometimes multifaceted. A major activity of science and engineering is investigating and explaining causal relationships and the mechanisms by which they are mediated. Such mechanisms can then be tested across given contexts and used to predict and explain events in new contexts or design solutions.
College Board Standards for College Success: Science
Standard PS.1 Interactions, Forces and Motion
Changes in the natural and designed world are caused by interactions. Interactions of an object with other objects can be described by forces that can cause a change in motion of one or both interacting objects. Students understand that the term “interaction” is used to describe causality in science: Two objects interact when they act on or influence each other to cause some effect. Students understand that observable objects, changes and events occur in consistent patterns that are comprehensible through careful, systematic investigations.
- Ask questions to clarify and refine an engineering problem.