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1947: Finite Element Analysis

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Innovation: Finite Element Analysis
Location: Imperial College, United Kingdom
Year: 1947
By: Olgierd Zienkiewicz

Finite Element Analysis is commonly used in aerospace, automotive and architectural engineering with 2d or 3d computer simulation models to solve complex shapes.

Initial work towards creating the analysis was done, separately, by Alexander Hrennikoff and Richard Courant during 1941-1942. Although the two used different approaches, they shared one essential idea: mesh discretization of a continuous domain into a set of discrete sub-domains, referred to as elements.

Starting in 1947, at Imperial College, Olgierd Zienkiewicz used these approaches to form what would later be called the Finite Element Method (FEM), building the pioneering mathematical formalism of the method.  Today the Finite Element Method is used in any and all aspects of mathematics and physics; from visualization of how a car deforms in an asymmetrical crash to solving complex elasticity and structural analysis problems in civil and aeronautical engineering.  `

Source: [1]


Written by Jason Harlan

October 4, 1947 at 9:06 pm

1946: Arup founded (Integrated Design)

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Innovation: Ove N. Arup, Consulting Engineers (integrated design)
Location: London, United Kingdom
Year: 1946
By: Sir Ove Arup

Ove N. Arup, Consulting Engineers was founded in 1946 by Sir Ove Nyquist Arup.  Ove Arup introduced the concept of Total Design, also known as integrated design – in which architects and engineers (and building contractor) work together as a collaborative design team from the early stages of design.  This is in contrast to the traditional role of architect as designer, and engineer as consultant – the engineer traditionally engaged later the design process. [GB]

The firm, since 1946, has become one of the largest “independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists offering a broad range of professional services.” [2] Arup has shaped the engineering and architecture industries by stepping out of the comfort zone and into a realm of fresh, imaginative, cutting-edge structures. With offices spanning 42 countries, Arup continues to purse projects around the world. Some of their most notable projects include the Sydney Opera House (1973), the Beijing National Stadium (2008), The London Eye (1999) and the London Aquatics Center (2012).

“Engineering problems are under-defined; there are many solutions, good, bad and indifferent. The art is to arrive at a good solution. This is a creative activity, involving imagination, intuition and deliberate choice.” – Ove Arup. [3]  `

Sources: [1],[2],[3]

Written by Jason Harlan

October 4, 1946 at 8:29 pm

1939: World War II

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Innovation: Computers, Synthetics, Radar
Location: North America, Europe, Asia
Year: 1939-1945
By: United States, England, Germany, Japan, Russia

Although World War II is the most infamous war in modern history, it paved the way for some of the most important technical innovations of our time. Originally used for locating and tracking enemy equipment, radar and sonar have proven vital to investigating the geology of strata below. Helpful especially in earthquake engineering, these tools allow us to see what kind of natural materials are under the ground, calling for various types of pads and bases to be laid before construction of buildings can begin. By mid-1942, Japan controlled nearly all of Asia, the world’s main rubber supply. Seeing as how equipment such as boots and tires were in such high demand, the United States was forced to engineer ways of producing quality synthetic rubber.  Currently, rubber is fitted into glass, steel, plastics, sealants and all types of construction materials. The greatest innovation to come out of WWII is the computer. While taking up entire rooms, computers were used by the US to calculate artillery firing tables. Allowing us to create building structures and simulate load patterns, engineering would not be what it is today without the use of these super machines.

Sources: [1], [2]

Written by Jason Harlan

September 1, 1939 at 7:41 pm

1936: First commercial trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific flights

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[Source]                                     [Source]

Innovation: Trans-oceanic flights
Location: United States to Europe/Asia
Year: 1936-1939
By: Pan Am

With the innovation of trans-ocean flight, citizens of all countries were able to travel abroad more hastily than by ship. With this speedier travel, culture from around the world began to diffuse at paces faster than ever before. Pan American World Airways revolutionized the travel with the first trans-pacific flight in 1936 on the wings of the China Clipper. Three years later, the first passenger flight from the US to Europe was flown on Pan Am’s Yankee Clipper. Concrete runways were few and far between, so Pan Am resorted to the Clipper, a water-landing aircraft made by Boeing. With this enormous leap in aviation, not only could foreign materials be transported easily, but ideas of architecture, engineering and structures could be circumvented and communicated in days.

Sources: [1],[2]

Written by Jason Harlan

May 18, 1936 at 6:53 pm