What actually is engineering?

We all know the engineering heroes who forged our path through the industrial revolution and pulled the world into the modern age. For example, we have Brunel to thank for pioneering not only rail travel in Great Britain, but for extending their reach to the shore of America with his giant, iron-hulled steamer ships. Thomas Edison, an American inventor, gave us the record player, motion picture camera and the electric light bulb. Our connected world was made possible only by Alexander Graham Bell’s original telephone; and Tesla was a household name long before Elon Musk and co. released their electric vehicles in 2008.

After the industrial revolution, however, things get a little murky. Our perception of engineering descends into a muddle of hard hats and high-vis jackets, still rooted deeply in the infrastructure of our daily lives; our roads, railways and buildings are all definitely the products of engineering. But what about everything else?

Last year, we took a closer look at the results of the Create the Future report, exploring what young people around the world really thought about engineering.

Lord Browne of Madingley, Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering foundation said: “The report indicates that engineering is, at times, poorly understood. Interest in STEM subjects is high, but interest solely in engineering lags some way behind.”

Digging into this a little deeper, the supplementary study found that 16-17 year olds in particular favoured technology over other STEM subjects. This got us thinking: engineering is everywhere, but just how much does it influence the technology and innovations that make modern life what it is?

This month, we are diving straight into the everyday engineering that is all around us, hidden in plain sight. From the food and drink we consume to the energy that powers our homes and the systems controlling our healthcare, engineers are working away in the background to keep the world moving forwards. Join us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as we hunt for hidden engineering!

Image: “supermarket” by Franz Jachim is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.