Everyday Engineering: Understanding the Marvels of Daily Life

Watch Everyday Engineering: Understanding the Marvels of Daily Life

  • 2015
  • 1 Season

Everyday Engineering: Understanding the Marvels of Daily Life is an indispensable guide to the way things work in the world around you. Conducting this eye-opening tour is Professor Stephen Ressler of the United States Military Academy at West Point, an award-winning civil engineer and a nationally honored leader in engineering education.

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The Future: Engineering for Sustainability
36. The Future: Engineering for Sustainability
November 13, 2015
Look beyond recycling to the higher goal of sustainability. Then close the course by considering the Great Northeast Blackout of 2003. Caused by inadequately pruned trees and a software bug, this cascading sequence of infrastructure failures holds important lessons for the world of everyday engineering.
Solid Waste Disposal and Recycling
35. Solid Waste Disposal and Recycling
November 13, 2015
Compare the three main methods of dealing with the 700,000 tons of solid waste generated every day in the U.S.: landfill, incineration, and recycling. Explore the distinction between recycling, which is practical with many metals, and down-cycling, which is the fate of most plastics.
The Railroad
34. The Railroad
November 13, 2015
Ride the rails to learn why rail transportation continues to thrive, two centuries after the modern railroad was introduced. Trace the origin of the standard rail gauge used in the U.S., probe the forces a locomotive must overcome to get rolling and then stop, and chart the rise of a revolutionary way of handling cargo: the intermodal container.
Tunnel Engineering
33. Tunnel Engineering
November 13, 2015
Delve into tunnel engineering, a discipline every bit as impressive as bridge building, only less visible. Consider the challenges presented by the type of soil or rock being excavated for a tunnel, marvel at the work of mammoth tunnel boring machines, and weigh the tradeoffs between tunnels versus bridges.
Everyday Bridges
32. Everyday Bridges
November 13, 2015
Find that everyday highway overpass bridges are more interesting than they appear. These ubiquitous structures deserve to be admired for their simplicity and practicality. Plunge into the principles of multi-girder spans, and learn that new construction techniques make highway bridges more efficient and elegant than ever.
Traffic Engineering
31. Traffic Engineering
November 13, 2015
Traffic engineers help to ensure the safe and efficient movement of vehicles and pedestrians within a road system. Focus on their approach to intersection design, examining the many factors that go into determining whether you�۪re faced with a traffic signal, an overpass, a flyover ramp, or some other means of traffic control.
Highway Engineering
30. Highway Engineering
November 13, 2015
Step into the work boots of a highway engineer, tasked with designing a freeway across hilly terrain to connect two other highways. Discover that features of a safe road that you take for granted-constant-radius curves, gentle grade, sturdy construction, and a well-drained surface-require detailed planning.
Suspension, Steering, and Braking
29. Suspension, Steering, and Braking
November 13, 2015
Conclude your survey of automotive engineering by studying the three systems that control a vehicle: suspension, steering, and braking. Begin with the technology that�۪s vital to all three: your tires. Close by analyzing the antilock braking system (ABS), learning how it works and how it knows when to engage.
The Drivetrain
28. The Drivetrain
November 13, 2015
Follow the transfer of automotive power from the gearbox through the driveshaft to the differential and drive-wheels. Study working models of the universal joint and differential. Also explore the design of front-wheel drive, and peer inside an automatic transmission to expose the miracle of its smooth operation.
Torque, Power, and Transmission
27. Torque, Power, and Transmission
November 13, 2015
Trace the path of mechanical power from pistons to the engine crankshaft, then through the flywheel and clutch assembly to the transmission gearbox. Focus on the relationships between torque, rotational speed, and power, discovering the reason that transmissions require multiple gear ratios.
The Internal Combustion Engine
26. The Internal Combustion Engine
November 13, 2015
Begin the first of four lectures on automotive engineering by exploring that marvel of mechanical sophistication: the internal combustion engine. Professor Ressler uses homebuilt models to demonstrate the ingenious design of the four-stroke power cycle and how it works in perfect synchrony with a host of other engine sub-systems.
User-Centered Design
25. User-Centered Design
November 13, 2015
Using the faucet as an example, study the bewildering number of ways that hot and cold water can be delivered into a sink, reflecting the challenges of designing everyday things. Along the way, consider the principles that go into a successful design: affordances, signifiers, mapping, constraints, and feedback.
Simple Machines around the House
24. Simple Machines around the House
November 13, 2015
Nothing embodies everyday engineering like simple machines-the basic mechanical devices used for thousands of years that we rely on more than we may realize. Probe the wonders of the inclined plane, screw, wedge, lever, wheel-and-axle, and pulley, and ponder their myriad applications.
Satellites and Satellite Communications
23. Satellites and Satellite Communications
November 13, 2015
Take wireless communications to a higher level: space. First master the rudiments of rockets, orbits, and satellite operations. Then focus on commercial satellite services such as television, radio, Internet, telephone, and navigation. Calculate the ideal orbit for communications satellites, and investigate the workings of the Global Positioning System.
Cellular Phone Technology
22. Cellular Phone Technology
November 13, 2015
Why is cell phone service sometimes so unpredictable? Get inside the cellular network to learn how clever engineering makes a surprisingly large number of two-way conversations possible over a very narrow broadcast spectrum. Also see how the system leads to dead spots, dropped calls, and other familiar cell phone hassles.
The Global Telecommunications Network
21. The Global Telecommunications Network
November 13, 2015
Investigate the beauty and complexity of the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Optimized for transmission of the human voice, it comprises a vast array of conventional phone lines, fiber-optic cables, microwave links, and other media. Trace its evolution to the remarkable system in use today. Investigate the beauty and complexity of the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Optimized for transmission of the human voice, it comprises a vast array of conventional phone lines, fiber-optic cables, microwave links, and other media. Trace its evolution to the remarkable system in use today.
The Plain Old Telephone Service
20. The Plain Old Telephone Service
November 13, 2015
Begin the first of four lectures on telecommunications technology by tracking the landline telephone system, known in the trade as €œplain old telephone service.€ Follow the pair of copper wires from your landline phone to the multi-pair cables strung from power poles to the all-important local exchange and beyond.
Passive Solar and Net-Zero-Energy Homes
19. Passive Solar and Net-Zero-Energy Homes
November 13, 2015
How much energy can you save with a properly designed house? Would you believe all of it? Trace the trend in passive solar and net-zero-energy homes that are engineered to stay comfortable year-round by exploiting sunlight in winter and shielding against it in summer, with minimal operating costs.
Home Energy Efficiency
18. Home Energy Efficiency
November 13, 2015
Delve into the green building movement, which promotes structures that use natural resources more efficiently while reducing environmental impact. Focus on minimizing energy consumption through a well-insulated, airtight building envelope; energy-efficient windows and doors; and energy-efficient HVAC systems and appliances.
Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning
17. Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning
November 13, 2015
Explore heating, ventilating, and air conditioning-known as HVAC. Begin by learning how thermostats regulate temperature. Then review how heat transfer takes place, and investigate the pros and cons of heating with a furnace, boiler, and heat pump. See how air conditioning integrates into each of these systems.
Everyday Thermodynamics: Refrigeration
16. Everyday Thermodynamics: Refrigeration
November 13, 2015
Unravel the secret of refrigeration by focusing on the connection between heat, temperature, work, and energy. Then see how these thermodynamic concepts apply to the vapor-compression cycle in your refrigerator or air conditioner. Discover that a heat pump operates the same way.
Electrical Power Distribution
15. Electrical Power Distribution
November 13, 2015
Trace the distribution of electrical power from a substation to your home. Begin with the transformer, discovering how this crucial device functions. By the end of this lecture, you will be able to read a utility pole like a book, analyzing the different services attached to these ubiquitous structures.
Electrical Power Transmission: The Grid
14. Electrical Power Transmission: The Grid
November 13, 2015
Study the technological marvel called the grid-the system that transmits electricity from its point of generation to users. Learn why electrical transmission lines come in threes, why AC power is used instead of DC, and the reason transmission voltages are so high.
Renewable Sources of Electricity
13. Renewable Sources of Electricity
November 13, 2015
Survey the three most important sources of renewable energy: hydropower, wind power, and solar power. Look at the inner workings of hydroelectric dams, wind turbines, solar-thermal power stations, and photovoltaic arrays to see how each takes a renewable energy source and converts it into electricity.
Oil, Gas, and Nuclear Power
12. Oil, Gas, and Nuclear Power
November 13, 2015
Probe the tradeoffs of oil, natural gas, and nuclear fission for generating electrical power. For example, natural gas is plentiful and flexible, but it involves fracking and produces carbon dioxide emissions. By contrast, nuclear power produces essentially zero emissions but poses potentially catastrophic safety risks.
Power Generation from Coal
11. Power Generation from Coal
November 13, 2015
Focus on the dominant source of electricity in the U.S. today: coal. Begin by reviewing concepts from thermodynamics that explain how power plants work. Then follow the processes that turn a hopper full of coal into abundant electrical power, extracting the maximum amount of energy along the way.
Fossil Fuels: Coal, Oil, and Natural Gas
10. Fossil Fuels: Coal, Oil, and Natural Gas
November 13, 2015
Coal, oil, and natural gas power the vast majority of electrical generating plants in use today. Learn how fossil fuels are extracted from the earth and how new technologies such as longwall mining and fracking have revolutionized the industry. Also examine some of the environmental drawbacks of these endeavors.
Wastewater Disposal and Treatment
9. Wastewater Disposal and Treatment
November 13, 2015
What happens to the 150 gallons of water that the average person uses and then sends down the drain each day? Delve into wastewater disposal and treatment. Among the details you investigate are the S-shaped trap in a waste pipe and that most ingenious of plumbing fixtures: the toilet.
Water Treatment and Distribution
8. Water Treatment and Distribution
November 13, 2015
Learn how raw water from nature is treated to make it safe for drinking. Then trace the distribution system that supplies water under pressure to users. Professor Ressler demonstrates two crucial technologies in this system: the flocculation chamber and the water tower.
Dam, Reservoir, and Aqueduct Design
7. Dam, Reservoir, and Aqueduct Design
November 13, 2015
Now consider the water that you want in your house-for drinking, cooking, and bathing. Examine the technologies that collect water from a watershed and transport it to a municipality. Explore different designs for dams, and marvel at the Catskill Aqueduct that carries fresh water to New York City.
Site Design and Storm Runoff
6. Site Design and Storm Runoff
November 13, 2015
What happens to the precipitation that falls on your house, your lot, and your neighbors€™ properties? Study the problem of site design, focusing on how storm runoff is directed away from homes and returned to a natural watercourse, without causing flooding along the way.
The Building Envelope
5. The Building Envelope
November 13, 2015
Now that your house is framed, it needs a building envelope that can shed rainwater and melting snow, and also keep precipitation from entering through the foundation. Learn about the five integrated layers of protection: shingles and cladding, drainage plane, insulation, vapor barrier, and drywall.
Platform-Framed Housing Construction
4. Platform-Framed Housing Construction
November 13, 2015
Turn to the third major technique for building a house: platform-framed construction, which is a flexible arrangement of lightweight modular floor platforms, wall panels, and roof trusses. This efficient approach has been widely used in the U.S. for over a century.
Three Structural Systems for Load Bearing
3. Three Structural Systems for Load Bearing
November 13, 2015
Examine one of the most important aspects of modern building codes: the design of a house for structural load carrying. Focus on two of the three major approaches to this crucial function: bearing wall construction and heavy timber frame construction. Both have been used for thousands of years.
Your House as an Engineered System
2. Your House as an Engineered System
November 13, 2015
In the first of four lectures on your house as a technological system, review the eight engineered subsystems that go into modern dwellings. Then discover the miracle of building codes, which ensure that every new house is safe, constructible, and reasonably economical without involving an engineer in each design.
Engineering and Technology in Your World
1. Engineering and Technology in Your World
November 13, 2015
Start the course by considering how engineering and technology influence your daily life-not just high-tech devices but also ordinary machines, buildings, and infrastructure that most people take for granted. In this lecture series you will learn to notice and understand these overlooked marvels.
Description

Everyday Engineering: Understanding the Marvels of Daily Life is an indispensable guide to the way things work in the world around you. Conducting this eye-opening tour is Professor Stephen Ressler of the United States Military Academy at West Point, an award-winning civil engineer and a nationally honored leader in engineering education.

Everyday Engineering: Understanding the Marvels of Daily Life is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (36 episodes). The series first aired on November 13, 2015.

Where to Watch Everyday Engineering: Understanding the Marvels of Daily Life

Everyday Engineering: Understanding the Marvels of Daily Life is available for streaming on the The Great Courses Signature Collection website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Everyday Engineering: Understanding the Marvels of Daily Life on demand at Apple TV+, Amazon Prime, Amazon and Hoopla.

  • Premiere Date
    November 13, 2015