Five amazing feats of engineering

Not sure what engineering is all about? Look around you…

From buildings and vehicles, to robotic machines and space stations, engineers work to make life easier for human-kind, and help us to learn more about the world we live in.

If you’re considering a job in the engineering industry, here are five amazing feats of engineering to help inspire you:

 

  1. British Airways i360

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The British Airways i360 is a 162 metre viewing tower that’s currently in the process of being created on Brighton’s seafront. Construction started in 2014, with the tower expected to open in summer 2016.

Its skilled team of engineers also built the London Eye back in 1999, which is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the UK with around 4 million annual visitors.

Not only will the i360 be the world’s most slender tower, it will also be the first ever vertical cable car which allows its passengers to move around freely whilst it rises (up to 450 feet in the air). The glass viewing pod can hold up to 200 people at a time, and will offer 360 degree 26 mile views of the south coast – from Bexhill-on-Sea to Chichester.

Other features of the i360 tower include a Sky Bar (you know, for the evenings), year-round air conditioning, and a beach building on the lower promenade where visitors can eat, drink, purchase souvenirs, or use the kids’ zone.

Family entertainment and amazing engineering. It’s pretty much win-win.

When it was built: 2016.

How much it cost: £46 million.

Who built it: Mark Barfield Architects (design), Hollandia (overall construction), Poma (vertical cable car pod), Jacobs (structural engineering), J T Mackley and HOP (civil engineering).

 

  1. Google X Self-Driving Car

This image provided by Google shows a very early version of Google's prototype self-driving car. The two-seater won't be sold publicly, but Google on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 said it hopes by this time next year, 100 prototypes will be on public roads. (AP Photo/Google)

A self-driving car is a robotic vehicle that can operate without a human driver. It can make its way to and from predetermined locations, on regular roads, without any interruption or guidance.

Although plans of driverless cars have been around for a while, this futuristic concept will only start to come to fruition in 2020 – when Google plans to make their self-driving cars fully available to the public.

To make the car autonomous, a team of specialist engineers used advanced laser and sensory technology to allow the vehicle to scan its environment and generate a 3D map of its surroundings. This, combined with hi-res maps of the world (cue Google Maps), allows the car to make its own data models and navigate journeys all by itself. Built-in software also works to makes intelligent predictions of what objects around the car are going to do next, influencing the speed and trajectory of the robotic vehicle.

Alongside their own custom vehicle, Google have also developed a series of robotic cars, including the Toyota Prius, Audi TT, and Lexus RX450h, and companies such as Tesla are also working on their own models.

When it was built: 2009-2020.

How much it cost: Around $10,000 (roughly £7,000) is added the original cost of a car to make it fully autonomous – although the exact pricing for customers is not currently known.

Who made it: 15 engineers working for Google.

 

  1. Large Hadron Collider

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Located about 100 metres underground (between France and Switzerland, if you’re asking) the Hadron Collider is the most powerful particle collider that’s ever been built – and it’s also the largest single machine in the world.

The purpose of the LHC is to recreate the conditions that happened straight after the Big Bang, in an attempt to finally discover how the world was created as well as provide answers to other scientific questions about the universe.

To make this possible, a team of engineers worked together to build the most complex particle accelerator ever made – one which is able to beam protons and ions at the speed of light. The colliding of the atoms and the consequent effects allow scientists to discover and examine particles, understand the meaning of black holes and dark matter, and solve other mysteries of the universe.

It’s housed a series of experiments taking place from 2010 to 2013, and it’s now in the process of running a second round of research that began in 2015.

The LHC has already found the ‘God particle’, and is reportedly on its way to discovering a new particle that could break the standard model of physics.

When it was built: 2010.

How much it cost: £6.1 billion.

Who built it: Over 10,000 of the world’s brightest scientists and engineers.

 

  1. High Speed 2

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The HS2 is a high speed railway that’s scheduled to span across the UK, linking London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds, Sheffield, and Manchester.

The plans come after the completion of the first High Speed line that currently connects London to the Channel Tunnel.

The high speed railway is being designed and built by a team of civil engineers, and is expected to tackle capacity issues with the UK’s current transport network, making it easier for people (and businesses) in all areas of the country to move around with ease. In other words, it could mean your daily commute is about to become a whole lot easier. It’s also expected to boost skills nationwide, as it will introduce a range of engineering jobs and apprenticeships.

Trains will run at a maximum speed of 250mph, providing a quick and easy transportation method for both passengers and freight. Plans to build a third High Speed line (HS3), linking northern cities from east to west, have also recently been announced.

When it was built: Building is expected to start in 2017, with full completion set for 2033.

How much it cost: Current estimates stand at around £43 billion.

Who built it: High Speed Two Ltd.

 

  1. International space station

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The International Space Station is the largest ever artificial satellite that orbits around 220 miles above Earth. The station was created by NASA, and it was built find out the feasibility of living and working in space.

Russian and American aerospace engineers helped to build the initial two shuttles which were joined together to form the foundations of the space station. Then, mechanical engineers put together various additional modules, which were taken into space piece-by-piece and added to the structure in orbit.

Examples of these include: solar arrays that collect energy from the sun giving the spacecraft electricity, robotic arms that helped with the assembly of the stations, and docking ports and airlocks that allow astronauts to explore outside and connect to other spacecrafts.

Not only is the ISS used for exploration purposes, it’s also big enough to house six astronauts and cosmonauts (with five bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a gym), and provides the perfect environment for conducting research.

When it was built: 1998.

How much it cost: $150 billion (approximately £108 billion).

Who built it: Engineers from around the world.

 

Considering a career in engineering? View all available roles

 

Image Credits

Brighton i360 – http://britishairwaysi360.com/

Google Self-Driving Car – https://www.flickr.com/photos/smoothgroover22/15104006386/

Inside the Large Hadron Collider – https://www.flickr.com/photos/cizauskas/15329609917/

HS1 – https://www.flickr.com/photos/rpmarks/9324686348

International Space Station – https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasamarshall/3907196583

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