Tag Archive: engineering


An ancient Quechua road that leads to Machu Picchu, Peru.

Nord Stream 2 is possibly the world’s most controversial infrastructure project, and it was thrust further into the spotlight when Russia invaded Ukraine earlier in 2022. The future of this monumental feat of engineering and maritime construction is unclear. Right now, it seems doubtful that the Nord Stream 2 will ever be anything more than an empty tube of steel and concrete at the bottom of the Baltic Sea (and maybe that’s for the best).

How do you rebuild one of the biggest spillways in the world after a catastrophic failure with the next flood season right around the corner? Practical Engineering covers the engineering and construction required to repair both the main spillway and emergency spillway after they were catastrophically damaged during flooding in the spring of 2017.

Why Retaining Walls Collapse

Look around and you’ll see retaining walls everywhere holding back slopes so we all have a little more space in our constructed environments. They might just look like a pretty concrete face on the outside, but now you know the important job they do and some of the engineering that makes it possible.

The Millennium Tower at 301 Mission Street in San Francisco is famously tilting and sinking into the ground. How does geology affect the design of skyscraper foundations, and what is being done to fix this structure?

Be glad you can’t smell it!

In May 2020, heavy flooding resulted in the catastrophic failure of the Edenville Dam embankment, sending a wall of water downstream in the Tittabawassee River and completely draining Wixom Lake. The breach wave quickly overwhelmed the downstream Sanford Dam, overtopping and failing the structure. Over 10,000 residents in Sanford, Midland, and Saginaw were evacuated. The independent forensic team charged with investigating the event released an interim report in September 2021. The conclusions of the report include a discussion of a relatively rare phenomenon in earthen dams. Practical Engineering walks us through the investigation to try and understand what happened.

Why SpaceX Cares About Concrete

How does concrete stack up against rocket engines? When a launch or landing pad fails, it can be worse than if it wasn’t there at all, creating high-speed projectiles that jeopardize the safety of the vehicle and its support equipment, not to mention its crew. It’s a nice reminder that even the humblest provision here on earth – a solid, flat, and durable surface – is an absolute luxury on another world and of the importance of infrastructure in our interplanetary quests.

Why Things Fall Off Cranes

“Rigging” is the term used to describe all the steps we go through to attach a load to a crane so it can be suspended and moved. And, like all human endeavors, rigging is prone to error. Some of the most serious crane failures in history had nothing to do with the crane itself but were actually a result of poor rigging. There’s a lot that can go wrong below the hook, so in this Practical Engineering video, we’re going to take a look at a few of the fundamentals in attaching and securing a load and some of the hidden hazards that can pop up if not done properly and carefully.

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