Modern Day “Engineering Wonders” of the World

by Jesmar Arevalo

What do you know about the 7 wonders of the world? Maybe you know we are talking about a list of amazing constructions from the ancient world. The original list comes from ancient Greek travelers who decided to make the world aware of what they considered the most incredible buildings of their time. That’s why the first entries refer mainly to marvels from the Ancient Mediterranean and the Middle East Regions.

Did you know there are also seven new wonders of the world? These are perhaps the ones you most recognize, because they are more current examples. Several people have written the story behind the construction of The Great Wall of China or Machu Picchu in Peru, but there are even more interesting stories behind some of the buildings from today’s more modern world.

The original seven wonders could be considered the starting point. It is when the human inventiveness started to feel the need to acknowledge the existence of Civil works as a way to define the limits of their era. We could say this was the beginning of a never-ending competition in the Civil Engineering field and several cases have led humankind to push their limits.

There have been many factors that have led to the creation of engineering marvels. From the Eiffel tower that was created to commemorate a special date, to the Panama Canal that changed maritime trades. But you will be amazed at how many of the greatest achievements from both the ancient and modern worlds have been accomplished by a motivation just to compete.

We can’t avoid the fact that nature has an effect on humans living together as a society. We all want to stand out from the rest and that  means that we frequently compete. When you think about it, there were certainly several reasons to design and build what we know as Dubai today. But would it have worked without the opulent Burj Al Arab? Sure, it would! But it perhaps would not be recognized as the “Symbol of the City” and one of the few 7 star hotels in the world.

It seems it all started as a competition to create the most impressive city in the world, but then it became a competition even within themselves. To the extent of even creating artificial islands with shapes that we can see from a satellite image.

There are great projects in history, created for the simple purpose to compete and define who is better.  As simple and egocentric as it sounds, they contribute to improving technology. The need to find solutions to face new challenges brought new ideas to the world of engineering that can be applied in other fields.

It is no secret that Russia and the US have competed on the spatial race for years. But not too long ago, we witnessed something we never imagined we would. We had the privilege to see a private company and NASA successfully launch a spacecraft from US soil that lead a crew to the International Space Station.

This is something Russia has achieved, but the technology they used didn’t allow them to recover the rocket. That made every mission to space very expensive and with limitations. This time, a company called SpaceX, led by Elon Musk decided to set this as their personal goal, to be able to recover and reuse the rocket. We all know today they succeeded, and this increases “the speed we can now run this space race”.

Of course, this will bring all kinds of new challenges and benefits for humanity, but we are not just talking about the future. Part of the technology used to complete the project involved discoveries that bring technological advances to other fields.

Some people consider competition as a path to frustration. Looking back we can see what’s been achieved with ventures that started as a competition. The truth is, it depends solely on us. We are always able to choose what task to undertake and which to dismiss. To compete can push us through our limits and make us realize just what we can do. We should always welcome competition as a way to better ourselves, no matter the results. We may win or lose, but we’ll always learn!