If you're an engineer and you like to travel, there are some places that you just have to have on your bucket list. While there are countless engineering marvels across the globe and even more countless documentaries on all of them, some places you just have to see in person. Whether they're world wonders or feats of modern engineering, all of these places possess certain awe-inspiring qualities sure to make your trip worth it. Here are the 5 best engineering destinations that you need to see before you die!
[Image Source: Wikipedia]
The Palm Islands are a set of 3 artificial islands off the coast of Dubai in the UAE. Construction on these islands started in 2001 but as of now, the only completed and fully functional island is Palm Jumeirah. This island looks like a palm tree and is filled with a series of hotels and rooms.
The construction of the islands was the first endeavor to create manmade islands in artistic shapes that would hold residential developments. The effect of the islands goes far beyond their fame and unfortunately has had some impacts on the surrounding wildlife. The area surrounding the islands has seen increased coastal erosion and odd wave patterns. Sediment from the construction ultimately suffocated and injured many of the marine life around the area and reduced the sunlight allowed through the water. The palm islands are an incredible feat of engineering, but you might keep them off your list of places to visit if you don't appreciate the negative environmental effects. It isn't on this list, but while you're in Dubai, visiting the Burj Kalifa is a must see attraction for engineers.
Taj Mahal, India
[Image Source: SandeepaChetan'sTravelBlog]
The Taj Mahal is one of the seven modern wonders of the world. It is an ivory-white marble mausoleum that sits in the Indian City of Agra. The entire complex of the mausoleum is 42 acres with the white palace sitting right in the center. The tomb has a mosque and a guest house included in the construction which is all surrounded by formal gardens.
Construction was completed in 1643 but work continued long after.The Taj Mahal cost 52.8 billion rupees, USD$827 million in modern money. Over 20,000 people worked on the construction project lead by architects and artists. One of the key elements of the project was to allow free expression from various world-renown artisans of the time, which is exactly what the emperor who commissioned the project did. Construction of the giant stone structure required earthen ramps over a mile long leading up to the tomb in order to lift the large stones into place. In 1983, the site was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being one of the most prime examples of Muslim art in the world. Over 7 million people visit the temple each year and thanks to modern restoration efforts, the Taj Mahal should live on for many more years.
The Great Wall of China, China
The Great Wall of China is one of the most prolific engineering feats of all time. This stone brick and earthen wall was built along the historical border of China to protect the empire from invasions and raids from nomadic groups. While the wall may seem like an engineering project, it was actually built over many millennia from 600 BC all the way up to 1644 AD. Several walls were built in the 7th century BC later connected to what is now the Great Wall. Most of the modern wall was built and embellished during the Ming Dynasty.
Apart from the common known use for the wall to keep out attackers, the Great Wall has also been used for border controls allowing the regulated flow of imports and exports. Defenses on the wall were enhanced in later parts of its construction with watchtowers, barracks, garrison stations, and even signaling capabilities through smoke and fire.
The entire wall stretches from Dandong, China to the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. The Ming wall's total 5,500 miles, made up of 3,889 miles of wall, 223 miles of trenches and 1,387 miles of natural barriers. The entire wall stretches a total of 13,171 miles from start to finish. Don't worry, you don't have to see all of the wall to enjoy the engineering behind it.
[Image Source: Wikipedia]
The Panama Canal is the primary way for ships to get from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific and vice versa. This waterway consists of a 48-mile artificial canal that cuts through many natural lakes in the South American country. Various locks allow ships to progress the major elevation change with ease. The original locks were just 110 feet wide but a third wider land of locks was constructed within the last decade. These wider locks allowed for larger cargo ships to pass through the canal thus increasing the canal's usefulness.
Construction of the canal began as far back as 1881 by France but was stopped due to high worker mortality rate. The US took over the project in the early 1900s and opened the canal finally in 1914. At the time and even up to modern standards, the canal was one of the most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken. The shortcut created by the canal enabled quick passage across the continent without having to travel down and around Cape Horn on the southernmost tip of South America.
When the canal was first constructed, about 1,000 ships per year traversed the system of locks. In modern times, over 14,000 vessels travel through the canal every year. One of the most surprising facts about this engineering marvel is just how long it takes to traverse it. One ship takes 6 to 8 hours to get from one side to the other. The best way to visit this destination is by taking a cruise scheduled to cross the canal.
[Image Source: Wikipedia]
The Hoover Dam, while not one of the largest dams in the world is perhaps the most infamous. Constructed as a concrete arch-gravity dam on the Colorado River in Nevada and Arizona. Entire construction occurred from 1931 to 1936 under the direction President Roosevelt and during the Great Depression. Over 100 lives were lost during the construction of the dam with over 1000 workers being involved in the total process.
An idea of placing a dam where the Hoover ultimately was built was formulated as far back as the early 1900s. Placing a dam where the Hoover is allowed irrigation control and hydroelectric power for the area. At the time, the Hoover Dam was the largest concrete structure ever created.
Nearly 1 million people visit the dam each year. Part of the reason that visiting this dam is so great for engineers is because of where it sits in engineering history. While not presently anything to marvel over, the history surrounding the construction and documentation of the engineering places it at great importance to the history of engineering.