The eighth wonder of the world: The Panama Canal

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Opened over a century ago, the Panama Canal is widely considered to be one of the greatest feats in engineering history, and a contender for the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. Not only did its construction produce the biggest earth dam in the world at the time, but it also, consequently, produced the largest artificial lake.

The Panama Canal allows ships to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean through a 48-mile-long shipping route, saving over 15,000 kilometres around the South American continent. That’s the distance from London to Queensland.

Acting as a water elevator, the canal lifts ships up and down by 26 meters through a mountain range. In 2019 alone, the Panama Canal transported several thousand vessels and a quarter of a million metric tonnes of goods.1

In this episode of Create the Future, we speak with QEPrize Judge Ilya Espino de Marotta about the history of the Panama Canal and her key role in its expansion as Chief Engineer. We also hear about Ilya’s entry into – and career in – engineering, her thoughts on becoming a judge for the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, and her decision to wear a pink hard hat at work.

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