Industry

On the 9th of January 2018 a destructive mudslide, in Santa Barbara and Ventura County, California, hit the community of Montecito the hardest. Houses and businesses were literally swept off of their foundations. Days later the death toll had risen to 20 with scores more injured.

 

100 homes were destroyed and 300 more were damaged. Vehicles were among the losses too.

 

Freeways and hotels have been closed indefinitely as the community faces an enormous cleanup. Power had...

Cape Town, South Africa, may become the first modern city in the world to run out of water. This headline is being strewn across news networks around the world. Time is ticking toward ‘Zero Day’ - a day in April when the Cape is set to run out of water.

 

Cape Town residents are now restricted to 50 liters of water per household per day and this figure is soon to be halved.

 

Professor Mike Muller, the former Director-General of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry...

The future of automation is set in stone. It seems clear that industrial robots will replace human beings on the assembly line inside most, if not all, factories in the future. Car manufacturers have already seen many of the tasks on the assembly line replaced by robots - tasks that, once upon a time, belonged to the human employee.

However, Ford Motor Company may have just prolonged the human employee’s stay on the assembly line with new exoskeleton technology.

EksoVest is a joint...

Like water off of a duck’s back, Volkswagen’s Dieselgate controversy has not deterred consumers from buying their vehicles. Autoblog estimates that VW’s worldwide overall sales reached “around 10.7 million cars” in 2017, cementing it as the largest automaker in the world - inching just above Toyota.

The company also set a new record for a car manufacturing company; the company produced six million cars in a year. The Volkswagen Polo was the 7th most purchased vehicle in 2017.

For...

A new year has arrived, and with it, new engineering challenges. As 2018 rolled in, so did incredible weather events in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

 

In the Northern Hemisphere, it has been extremely cold. Days after New York’s governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, revealed a clean energy policy proposal for the state, a winter storm known as a ‘bomb cyclone’ descended upon the East Coast of the United States of America.

 

Extreme cold

The East Coast has undergone...

It would not have been a pleasant break at the end of 2017 for those working in the power industry. General Electric (GE) is retrenching 12,000 employees from their electrical power division; it equates to 18 percent of their workforce. The European branches of GE Power seem to be the hardest hit; Switzerland and Germany are losing the most employees.

The company initially made its fortune when Thomas Edison’s idea for the incandescent light bulb was realized. In November 2017 -...

The people of London, England, are officially one year away from using a new underground railway. Crossrail is a new railway that links up to the renowned Elizabeth Line; since 2009 the teams involved have been working around the clock to make it happen.

Engineers behind the project are calling it the most “ambitious infrastructure project since the Industrial Revolution”. Upon completion, Crossrail will be 118 kilometers (73 miles) long. 10 stations are also being constructed. By December...

By now you might have noticed that voice recognition hardware and software are growing exponentially. Companies including Google, Amazon, and Apple are developing technologies that allow humans to access the internet and control connected devices by using their voices.

The introduction of products such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home has piqued the interest of consumers. They can envision the benefits of these emerging virtual assistants and so can businesses.

Even Microsoft’s Windows...

Tire development has always formed a large chunk of the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) research. After all NASA has to put robust tires on the rovers they use in space. In fact the exploration of an arid, somewhat unpredictable landscape is very much dependent on good tires.

Space exploration has advanced alongside the growing capabilities of technology. With new landscapes to be explored the tires needed to be more versatile and durable.

Despite...

Instead of entrusting a handful of engineers to design and build, why not open it to a world of engineers, or those who are enthusiastic about all things engineering?

Thanks to low-cost cloud computing, it is all possible. Collaborative engineering design was seen as far back as 2008 in the automotive industry, the company involved was Local Motors.

Founded in 2007 in Phoenix, Arizona, Local Motors became an open-source motor vehicle design and manufacturing company.

Source: Local...

It is almost that time of the year again, the moment that sees out the old and welcomes in the new, on New Year’s Eve. In the seconds that take 23:59 in 2017 to 00:00 in 2018, bursts of fiery light will appear in the night skies around the world as displays of fireworks are triggered.

 

Some of the world’s grandest fireworks happen on Australia’s Sydney Harbor, on the United Kingdom’s London Eye, on France’s Eiffel Tower in Paris, and  on Brazil’s Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, to name...

The world’s most powerful man’s house was built by a woman. A new documentary is attempting to make sense of the unorthodox and unexpected trajectory of Donald Trump; a complicated story of a man who went from property mogul to President of the United States.

After inheriting the family business, Donald Trump began his rise to prominence in New York City.

New York was in an unprecedented economic slump in the 1970s - but that didn’t deter Donald Trump from asking for tax abatements or...

Zimbabwe could be at the dawn of a political revolution. It could also be business as usual. Amid a confusing week of political spring cleaning in the country, students working towards attaining qualifications in the tertiary sector have spoken out, painting a truly dire picture.

A few days ago BBC News described Zimbabwe as ‘cash-strapped and impoverished’. Despite this the powers that be were poised to initiate a raft of projects in honour of the recently deposed President, Robert...

Whilst optimized curriculum vitae look good, professional licensing also speaks volumes to employers. But is the professional engineering status necessary? Can you call yourself an engineer without the formal designation of Professional Engineer?

 

In the fourth industrial revolution, with automation replacing many repetitive roles, a more fluid and dynamic set of engineering skills may be necessary. The future is very likely to require engineers to amass as many skills as...

Yahama is taking self-driving cars a step further: self-driving motorbikes. Meet MOTOBOT, a motorbike driving robot that has been engineered to surpass humans; to beat them at their own sport.

 

After months of trial and error, the engineers at Yamaha were ready to pit their self-driving robot against a human - a professional biker named Valentino Rossi. But the road to getting a robot driving a motorbike had to start with one crucial function: balancing.

Image: Honda’s...

The methods used by the architects and engineers in the ancient world often remain mysterious and enigmatic. How the Great Pyramids of Giza were built, for example, still manage to stump engineers and other experts from around the world.

 

Neither the tools nor the techniques used to construct these complex and giant edifices can be fully explained. It is this fact that makes them one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

 

The Lighthouse at Alexandria or Pharos of...

The Great Pyramids of Giza are a complex of ancient monuments dating back to 2,000 BCE. They have taken their rightful place as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world; monuments that reflect astonishing ancient engineering skill and precise architecture. The pyramids are also the last of the seven wonders of the ancient world to remain standing.

They have been extensively researched, prodded and explored; despite this the manner in which they were constructed is largely unknown...

President Xi Jinping of China has earned official recognition as the Communist Party’s leader. An honor bestowed last to Mao Zedong and his successor Hua Guofeng. This means that the leader has garnered the utmost respect of all members within the party.

 

Xi Jinping can therefore put his recently unveiled Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) into action. The initiative is a $US1 trillion plan to revolutionize manufacturing and construction in the country. The government hopes to create...

3D printing – the possibilities really are endless of where this technology can take us in the future.

An example of this is with Peter Armstrong, a mechanical engineering student from Colorado who was inspired by a family friend who underwent a double amputation to the lower limbs. Through years of research and various prototypes, Peter has been able to apply his knowledge and skills to produce low-cost prosthetics using 3D printing technology.

He foresees these prosthetics, costing an...

Attrition rates are a bone of contention within tertiary education institutions. There is an inevitable desire to deny that the number of students dropping out of courses is too high, let alone rising.

Students, wherever they obtain the money, invest it into gaining qualifications; the key they believe, to establishing or furthering their careers. This is a high stakes investment with the idea of dropping out unthinkable for many.

Students failing to complete qualifications, however, is a...

Imagine a world where energy is available to all, distributed through a robust system of transmission lines, with a meter system so accurate that it charges consumers for the power  they need, but also allows them to sell excess energy to other consumers.

It is becoming more technically complex for energy companies to supply energy to their growing base of customers. To confirm the purchase of power a number of broker companies are involved to verify that the purchases have been made.
...

Dick MorleyBack in 2008, when we were expanding from a company providing courses for professional development into a fully-fledged college of engineering, Dick was not only an enormous support, but his involvement contributed to the success we enjoyed.  He was hearty in his encouragement of our efforts and he shared his expertise generously. Dick’s enthusiasm certainly carried us through those tenuous early years, when doubts can often undermine one’s confidence and dampen persistence.
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Scotland’s world-first offshore ‘floating’ turbine farm has begun producing energy. 20,000 homes on the mainland will be receiving power from this renewable energy source.

 

The operation has been constructed in Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. In a world first the wind turbines have been placed further out to sea than ever before; they are located 25km (15.5 miles) offshore. Why the greater distance you may ask? In an ocean, the deeper the water the more energy there is to be...

Internships

Internships provide the opportunity for a prospective professional to gain the work experience needed in the industry they are aiming to work in. Internships enable students or workers to gain the work experience that is being sought after by employers. Adding ‘work experience’ to the curriculum vitae is an invaluable addition that sets a candidate apart from others who don’t have any, especially in engineering industries.  

Internships are particularly famous for being used to...

Hurricane Harvey


Friday night (the 25th of August) a tropical storm hit Texas in the United States of America. 60cm of rain fell overnight (23 inches) with a total of 50 inches expected before the week was out. Whether or not Texas’ drainage system is able to deal with the volume of water that climate change is bringing will be a pertinent question once relief efforts have been fulfilled. Questions surrounding Houston’s water infrastructure are already being asked.

A New York Times opinionista has pointed...

The NZ pipeline disaster

Pipelines. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

It is rumored that approximately three years ago a swamp kauri mining operation led to the damage of the Ruakaka-Auckland Pipeline (RAP) in New Zealand.

Swamp kauri has 50,000 year old trees that have been perfectly preserved under swamp peat. The extraction of this wood is a tedious operation. It is believed that a digger struck the RAP.

The pipeline has failed; it began leaking and it is alleged that there was increased damage...

Puerto Rico’s aging infrastructure has been suffering under an inefficient government that has not been organizing the appropriate level of maintenance for quite some time.
 
In September of 2016, a fire broke out at the Central Aguirre Power Plant rendering electricity transmission lines useless. 1.5 million people were plunged into darkness. The blackout forced the government to declare a state of emergency. The Puerto Rican government was embroiled in a $9 billion debt crisis in...

Marc Jacobs Whistleblower

Marc Edwards is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech.  He is not only an engineer he is also a whistleblower. Along with citizen scientists, and concerned residents, Edwards exposed the Flint Water Crisis which began in 2014 and persists today.

Edwards blew the whistle on the ill practices of entities working to intentionally cut corners in the water infrastructure of Flint, Michigan, and the United States as a whole.
...

Over the last five years renewable energy technologies have seen more investment than ever before. Many governments have made plans to phase out energy generating technologies that harm the planet, hoping to achieve a world powered by fully renewable energy generating technologies by 2030. Solar and wind are two industries that have particularly skyrocketed - in both research and implementation. An idea that hasn’t seen an equal amount of attention is the harnessing of one of Mother Nature’s...

360 to 500 buildings and homes are in danger of collapsing days after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake rocked Mexico City. The earthquake rattled the city on Tuesday, the 19th of September 2017. As many as 38 structures suffered catastrophic failure when the earthquake hit, but the concern for civil engineers is that other structures may yet suffer a delayed collapse. The earthquake has already caused up to 355 fatalities.

Engineers on popular social media site Reddit have been mulling over this...

War. What is it good for? Competition.

Smartphone companies have released their latest devices, all vying for a space in your pocket.

 

Smartphones bring together a plethora of engineering and design disciplines to create incredibly multifaceted devices that have no doubt changed the way humans interact with technology. And there seems to be no stopping the effect they have on consumers. We all want a new one, every year or two. And the competition usually sends engineers into...

Cars are becoming more like smartphones every day. But is that necessarily a good thing? And what does it mean for the engineers who want to make a career out of automotive engineering? The days of the combustion engine seem to be coming to an end. The desire of tech companies and vehicle manufacturers is now to create fully autonomous, environment-friendly vehicles that takes individuals from point A to point B.

Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors is a good example of where the electric/smart vehicle...