The American Engineers’ Council for Professional Development (ECPD) defines engineering thus:
“The creative application of scientific principles to design or develop structures, machines, apparatus, or manufacturing processes, or works utilizing them singly or in combination; or to construct or operate the same with full cognizance of their design; or to forecast their behavior under specific operating conditions; all as respects an intended function, economics of operation or safety to life and property”
~Engineers’ Council for Professional Development (1,2)
That’s a pretty complex definition! What this really means is that engineers design, build, and operate many different things in our world, and try to find ways to make those things better. Some of these things include buildings, roads, machines, and even processes (like the process for building a car).
Because there are so many different things an engineer could do, engineering as a field is divided into many different types. Below are just a few of the different types of engineering.
Engineers use not only scientific information to design things, but also their practical knowledge and understanding of the society they work in. So, what do we already know a boat needs?
- It needs to be waterproof, so they don’t leak.
- It needs to float. This sounds simple, but it means the boat must displace (push away) an amount of water equal to its weight (please visit our blog on buoyancy for more information!). This is what makes the shape of a boat so important.
- It may need to transport cargo. This could be people, or objects, or both! This means they must be durable, and they must displace even more water when something else is placed in them.
1. Paper! Any kind of paper will do—newspaper, magazines, scratch paper from a copier; just make sure that no one needs the information on the paper! Getting some from a recycling bin would be best!
2. Other things to build your boat with. Be creative! Think about what your boat needs to have in order to float and not leak. Here are some suggestions as to what else you might want to use:
a. Waterproof tape.
c. Thin wire or flexible sticks
3. Some small object that is heavy for its size, like a small rock.
4. A bathtub or sink full of water.
Here’s what to do:
- Plan! Write down how you plan to build your boat using the materials provided. ONE OF THE MATERIALS YOU USE MUST BE A PAPER PRODUCT!
- Assemble your boat .
What happened? Did your boat float? Did it keep water out for the whole 20 minutes? Could it hold the heavy object? Do you think you could improve your design? Write down what happened and how you might improve your boat in your journal. Try building your boat again, and see if you can make those improvements! See if you can make your boat float longer!
For further reading, check out these sites!
Ancient Egyptian Engineers: http://www.history.com/images/media/pdf/engineering_empire_egypt_study_guide.pdf
Ancient Roman Engineers: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/roman_engineering.htm
Types of Engineering: http://www.aboriginalaccess.ca/adults/types-of-engineering
1) Engineers' Council for Professional Development. (1947). Canons of ethics for engineers
2) Engineers' Council for Professional Development definition on Encyclopædia Britannica (Includes Britannica article on Engineering)
3) Cooney, Michael (2008). “What are the 14 Greatest Engineering Challenges for the 21st Century?”, Network World, www.networkworld.com.
4) Maehlum, Mathias Aarre (2014). “Solar Energy Pros and Cons.”, Energy Informative, www.energyinformative.org.
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