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Manufacturing Engineers


Since early civilization, engineers have existed and contributed to each milestone and advancement in human history. Examples of engineering feats include Stonehenge, the Egyptian pyramids, the early Romans' extensive system of roadways and aqueducts, Europe's castles and cathedrals, and even modern accomplishments such as dams, electricity, automobiles, airplanes, and nuclear energy.

There was no formal training for early engineers. They were able to see existing structures and people's needs and come up with solutions that simplified and improved people's everyday lives. Engineers created structures and designs for agriculture, construction, defense, and other areas. Engineering was an important part of the ancient world. Imhotep, an ancient Egyptian builder, designed and built what many believe is the first pyramid, the Step Pyramid, around 2650 B.C. Engineers today still marvel at this accomplishment. Ancient Greek engineers used geometry in their work and developed five basic machines: wheel, pulley, lever, wedge, and the screw. Ancient Roman engineers built aqueducts, bridges, cities, and roads.

Isaac Newton helped to advance the understanding of math and physics in the 17th and 18th centuries. Newton's work introduced the generalization of the concept of Force, the formulation of the concept of Mass (his First Law), and the principle of Effect and Counter-Effect (his Third Law). These ideas paved the way for future engineering. The first formal engineering schools were established in the early 1800s, when governments realized how valuable engineers were in the military.

Engineers also helped to drive the development of various machinery and equipment throughout the Industrial Revolution. Engineers were instrumental in developing steam power and creating new processes for producing iron and steel. They were also involved in numerous building projects during this time, including bridges, dams, railroads, and other vehicles and structures. The engineering field grew further with inventions such as the telegraph (1837), the telephone (1876), the light bulb (1878), and the electric motor (1888).

Major engineering accomplishments continued throughout the 20th century, starting in 1903, with the Wright Brothers' first controlled flight of a powered airplane. The military developed airplanes for their operations. Wars throughout the century brought about other engineering advancements in bombs, guns, navigational systems, and submarines. Nuclear power was harnessed in this century, first for the atom bomb and later for power generation. The space race between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. resulted in the U.S. manned mission to the moon in 1969. Other major milestones included the rise of radio and television and the broadcasting industry, the widespread use of automobiles, and the rise of modern cities.

From the mid-20th century to today, engineers have played important roles in bringing personal computers into popular use and developing the Internet. Engineering marvels continue to abound and manufacturing engineers continue to be important contributors to helping improve people's lives. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers, which was established in the 1930s in support of tool engineers, has since evolved to provide various career-support resources for manufacturing engineers. Today it works closely with manufacturing engineers and related professionals, companies, educators, schools, and communities to advance manufacturing and attract future generations.

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