February 17 thru 23 is National Engineers’ Week, about which our President wrote: “By harnessing the power of technology and science, engineers help transform and enhance the quality of life for people around the globe. Their work spurs innovation in many important areas, such as manufacturing, defense, agriculture, and aviation. For nearly six decades, National Engineers Week has recognized engineers’ contribution to society and encouraged young people to learn more about this exciting field.”
Every aspect of your home, seen or unseen, was at one point, designed, manufactured, or specified by an engineer. The engineer’s objective is to give your home: safety, strength, reliability, economy, consistency, elegance, and appeal; all factors which increase consumer confidence and trust.
Consider, for example, your home’s floor. If the finish material is ceramic tile, the tiles were formed and fired in a plant designed and operated by industrial engineers. The tiles required precise formulation using individually engineered materials and chemically engineered colorants to achieve uniform hardness, chemical resistance, and aesthetic appeal.
The tiles were bundled into boxes using corrugated cardboard designed by a materials engineer, then packed with high-speed machinery designed and built by packaging engineers with the support of mechanical and electrical engineers.
Beneath your floor tiles is a concrete slab containing reinforcing bars. The concrete was mixed with aggregate and cement to achieve a precise consistency, strength and hardness specified by concrete engineers. It was made using high temperature dryers, heavy transporters, mixers, and process analyzers designed by equipment and automation engineers. The concrete was transported and poured within time, temperature, and humidity limits required by material engineers, to a minimum thickness calculated by civil engineers.
The soil on which your concrete slab floor was poured was specified by geological engineers to be a minimum consistency and compaction rating that allows appropriate support, drainage and resistance to erosion over time.
ALL the materials and processes used in the building of your home are approved by engineers then captured for general use in an ever-lasting communal memory bank called the “Codes”. The codes include the Florida Building Code (FBC), the National Electric Code (NEC), the International Building Code (IBC), National Fire Prevention Association codes(NFPA), and many other engineering standards originating from distinct engineering organizations. The codes are a set of uniform quality standards by which all structures are designed and constructed ensuring that your family home is built to last a lifetime.
Engineering is exciting and proves the value and power of imagination. While it is certain you will never see a parade of engineers on floats being escorted, cheered and applauded as they slowly pass by on US-1, that is okay. Engineers need no award shows, trophies or tributes. I ask you, however, the next time you turn off the lights and put your children to bed to please pause a moment to consider the contribution engineers have made and will continue to make toward improving the quality and safety of your home.
To find out more about Engineers Week, visit: www.eweek.org
Greg Bertaux PE, CIEC.
Copyright 2015, PRIME Engineering & Environmental Building Services