The word engineering is obtained from the latin term Ingenium, which means cleverness. It is the application of scientific, social, economic and technical know-how to invent, devise, maintain, research and improve devices, buildings, systems, materials and systems. (Gorse, Johnston and Pritchard, 2012)
Engineering has made great and significant strides since its conception, with its maiden and most fundamental inventions being the pulley, the lever and the pivot. Some of the eras that are identified in engineering include the Ancient Era, Middle Era, Renaissance Era and the Modern Era. There are significant inventions or improvements that were made in each of these eras. For example, the Antikythera mechanism, and the mechanical principles of Archimedes in ancient Greece. These both came up in the ancient era. In the middle ages, the first ever water pump was invented in Turkey by an Artuki named Al-Jazari as a tribute to the king. During the Renaissance era, the steam engine was invented by Thomas Savery, who was a British Electrical Engineer. It is worthwhile noting that the invention of the steam engine gave rise to the Industrial Revolution, leading to its mass production in subsequent years. The Modern Era has brought with it considerably significant inventions. These include the Computer, the search engine, the spacecraft, industrial scale manufacturing of chemicals, the electric motor, the transistor, the mobile phone and many other important inventions. (Wheeler, 1998)
Everyday life has been made easier in a myriad of ways in the different spheres of life by this great craft, which is evident by only looking at one’s immediate environment. It is easy to get the impression that in this day and age, life wouldn’t go on as usual without some engineering inventions. A literal example supporting this statement is the respirator, also known as the ventilator. The mobile phone and computer have both made communication easier. It is possible for people to communicate with each other regardless of where they are located on the globe. And this is just by the mere touch of a button or two. Motor vehicles and the aircrafts have also eased transportation of humans and goods across the world and in turn facilitated trade, which boosts the economy of the countries involved. In the health sector, engineering has played an important role in improving the activities of the sector. The dialysis machine for example.
It is said that anything that has an upside must have a downside, which applies to engineering too. In as much as engineering has made life easier in more ways than we can count using the fingers in both hands, it also has its fair share of adverse effects on the society. Engineering has seen the art of war become more and more equipped with weapons of mass destruction. Countries are setting aside billions in their total budget year after year to invest in weaponry. Most countries that are economic giants have nuclear weapons in their arsenals. These have effects that are on alarming levels. Industries, on the other hand, while manufacturing goods to make life easier, knowingly or unknowingly destroy life by emitting water, air and soil pollutants to the environment.
Engineering is a branch of science that to the eyes of most, has changed lives and made the world a better place. But to others, it has done more to destroy the earth and is the bane of their existence.
Gorse, C., Johnston, D. and Pritchard, M. (2012). Construction, surveying and civil engineering. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Wheeler, L. (1998). Josiah Willard Gibbs. Woodbridge, Conn.: Ox Bow Press.