Trade, employment and population soared thanks to increased worker income and improved living standards. To sell more products, business owners turned to engineers to help solve their problems. They proposed building railways across Britain (and continental Europe…and North America…and Australasia…and South America…and Asia…) and inventing steam powered locomotives to pull their products from the factories to markets, or ports to be shipped all over the world.
The industrial revolution created the world we live in today and is seen as “the most important event in the history of humanity since the domestication of animals and plants”. A fantastic representation of the rapid change the industrial revolution had on Britain was shown in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games – look out for Sir Kenneth Branagh playing the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Sadly, the mutton chops and top hat are no longer in fashion for engineers…
Now, as far as solutions to problems go, the harnessing of steam power is a great one! But the laws of thermodynamics teach us you cannot have something for nothing.
The coal powered factories, trains and ships created pollution. The increasing population needed to light their houses and required electricity to power them. The generation of such electricity created more pollution. The desire for improved mobility led to the car being invented and with the internal combustion engine being the eventual power source of choice for almost every vehicle, this meant yet more pollution.
Engineers created these problems and modern-day engineers like myself and my colleagues at HORIBA MIRA are tasked with solving it, doing our bit to ensure journeys of the future are safer, cleaner and smarter (I’ll expand on this in a future blog).
I said before that “an engineer is a problem solver” but that isn’t the full answer:
An engineer is a problem solver who must save the world!