The engineering world is constantly evolving to meet the needs of the communities it serves. From designing bridges to surveying land before beginning construction projects, the main goal of engineers always remains the same: to keep the public safe.
Safety is often a concern when disaster strikes. For example, when a strong hurricane hits land, it is extremely important to be fully prepared to ensure minimal loss. Throughout the years, the field of engineering has experienced many technological advances to help improve overall safety. Below are three instances when engineering technology has evolved in a way that greatly improves safety and has even helped saved lives:
Just last month, twelve boys and their soccer coach became trapped inside a flooded cave in northern Thailand. Making national news, the story of the trapped soccer team kept the attention of thousands of people from around the world.
The rescue was performed by the Thai Navy SEALs, who carefully planned out the three-day rescue mission. Without specific technology, such as sonar robots, the rescue may have not been so successful or timely.
The team was trapped in a part of the cave that was not easily accessible from the main ground. So, rescuers needed to enter from an entrance that was rather far (approximately 2.5 miles) from the trapped soccer team. Sonar robots, which are typically used to survey specific areas where oil or gas could possibly be drilled for, helped the rescue team navigate through the dark tunnels.
Drones have become very important tools in various rescue missions. One specific disaster that drones assisted in was Hurricane Harvey. Harvey, which was considered a Category 4 hurricane when it made landfall, inflicted $125 billion in damages, destroying many homes and causing thousands of people to become stranded.
To help locate those who were stranded due to the rising waters, drones were used. Drones were used to capture images and the location of people who needed rescued, which is much easier and more efficient than having a rescue team physically search for stranded people via a boat.
Every summer, a wildfire typically develops somewhere in the western United States. Wildfires break out as a result of dry temperature and extreme heat. Fighting these wildfires can be a treacherous job for firefighters.
In 2013, a wildfire began in Arizona and ended up killing 19 firefighters. The firefighters became trapped by the flames and were forced to use their foil, tent-like safety shelters as a last resort to save their lives. Unfortunately, the shelters they had did not hold up to the heat, causing the team to perish in the fire.
As a result, the Fire Shelter project was initiated as an attempt to reevaluate the safety shelters and to fix the flaws the previous shelters had. According to National Geographic, “This latest version [of safety shelters] consists of an outside layer made of high-temperature resistant silica cloth and an inside layer composed of a lightweight, fiberglass scrim cloth. Both layers are laminated to aluminum foil, which is an excellent reflector of radiant heat.” Unfortunately, the glue used to keep these shelters together and to keep the heat from entering the shelters is what failed during the Arizona wildfire. Because of the direct contact with flames, the glue melted. Now, a new, improved shelter is being tested and is expected to withstand direct contact with flames.
These are just a few emerging technologies that have saved lives. As technology evolves and becomes more advanced, it is because of the engineers behind the technology that makes disaster relief successful. If you are interested in keeping the public safe, becoming an engineer may be right for you. To become a licensed engineer, one must pass the FE exam and the PE exam. School of PE offers a wide variety of licensing exam review courses, such as PE Civil, PE Electrical, PE Environmental, and PE Mechanical. Start your engineering career today by signing up for a licensure exam review course!
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French, S. 7 Ways Drones are Helping Hurricane Irma, Harvey Recovery Experts. Retrieved from
Than, K. New Firefighting Technologies: Drones, Super Shelters. Retrieved from