Examples Of Engineering Innovations
The term “engineering innovations” has a very broad meaning in this day and age. Basically, these engineering innovations range anything from any one of our traditional “simple machines” to highly complex concepts like flight. In fact, this list is probably longer than even the longest list of words in the dictionary. This article will cover just a few of the more popular types of engineering innovations that have changed the way we live our lives in a relatively short period of time.
One of the first engineering innovations came about during the mid-1800s and it came from the area of mechanical engineering. Basically, it involved using steam engines in order to create motion. This list is long and in no specific order: the first ever steam powered vehicle, the electric-powered sleigh, the pushbutton ignition of today’s vehicles (and the earliest forms of internal combustion engines), and eventually the internal combustion engine.
A very interesting type of mechanical innovation took place around the same time and it involved two things. First, it was a way to create a mechanical advantage by using windmills. Second, it was a way to use windmills in order to create energy. Today’s windmills are called wind turbines and they harness the kinetic energy of the wind in order to turn steam turbines and generators (basically, windmills that use electricity).
Probably the most common engineering innovation used today involves the use of a simple machine – the inclined plane. How can you describe something that moves in only one direction? Inventors came up with the idea of using two opposite-shaped concave blades to create the inclined plane effect. This means that when the blades on either side of the inclined plane are turned, the shaft on top of the machine is also forced into one particular direction.
The inclined plane is now one of the most important pieces of machinery in the entire world. It can be seen in everything from computer towers to commercial airplanes to giant trucks to buildings. The reason why is because it solves another simple machine problem while providing an engineering advantage. By increasing the surface area of the wheel, it allows more energy to be harnessed.
What about the final machine? Well, the final mechanical engineering innovation is the steam engine. The first steam engine did not produce much electricity because it was too simple. Over time, various improvements were made to steam engines and they now produce more energy than they did before. While it is true that the first steam engines were not hugely different from the modern day windmills and waterwheels, their impact on society cannot be entirely discounted.
In the same manner, the steam engine was not the first invented because it was not too different from the idea of a piston. Both are two reciprocating shafts that move in the same direction with the force of gravity pulling them along. The key difference between the two is that a piston will have an oil-dipped or grease-sealed piston ring where a boiler will have a sealed basin (or bottom) and a piston rod with very little friction. So it is not surprising that when the engineer Richard C. Laramy came up with the idea that a piston could be taken out of a tank and connected to a crankcase with a crankshaft that moved parallel to the shaft, he was wrong. However, his basic idea was refined by John Lockwood who simplified it by attaching a piston to a shaft in a much simpler way.
There are many more examples of these basic ideas and the examples include valves, hand brakes, pulleys, pumps, chainsaws, and more. Today, these basic parts form the basis of many mechanical engineering innovations that engineers around the world take advantage of every day. Many are not even aware of how they came to be as they go about their daily lives.