Top 10 Engineering Advancements Of The 21st Century


The past decade or so has ushered forth a momentum of discovery and creation within the world of technology, engineering, science and manufacturing. The newfound understanding of physical science has allowed mankind to achieve an understanding that establishes firm foundations in terms of future advancements. There are ten engineering advancements that stand on in particular so far in the 21st century, but one thing is for sure, the best are yet to come…

Large Hadron Collider

Built from 1998-2008 this decade long project saw brilliant minds from across the world work together for one of the most advanced research facilities ever created. The LHC has the purpose to prove or disprove the existence of the Higgs Bonson particle, and other particle related theories in psychics. Everything about the LHC is special including its electromagnets that require a temperature colder than outer space (271.3°C) and unique electrical cables that reside in a superconducting state.

Sky Crane

This is the brilliant solution engineering to solve issues of safety depositing rovers on the Martian surface. Curiosity is forever growing so the sky crane was an essential development. The sky crane attaches to the rover and uses a combination of a parachute and steerable engines. The engines allow the sky crane to hover in mid-air and slow velocity down to zero to slowly lower the rover to safety.

Grasshopper Rockets Landing System

This is SpaceX’s reusable launch system development programme. Unlike the traditional rocket which dispose their `bodies` after lift-off, the Grasshopper rocket remains intact and can be reused on future launches.

Mars Opportunity and Curiosity Rovers

These two are a marvel of contemporary engineering! They brave the inhospitable Martian environment on a quest to study rocks, atmosphere, soils, conditions and particles. The life span was only estimated at 90 days but nine years later and the machines are still operational. The more advanced Curiosity landed in 2012 on a search for potential human colonization and found evidence of the presence of water trapped within Martian soil.

The Three Gorges Dam

This hydroelectric dam spans the entire width of the Yangtze River, China. It is also the largest power station in the world, producing 22,500 MW (11 times as much as the Hoover Dam!). The construction is huge, measuring 2,335m in length with the top being 185m above sea-level. It cost $62bn to complete and 13 cities, 140 towns and more than 1,6000 villages have been submerged under its reservoir.

Millau Viaduct

Located in France this bridge is the tallest in human civilization. Each post reaches 343m high (1,250ft) from base to tip. The structure received the 2006 award for Outstanding structure and has a wondrous slender elegance despite its size and spans across the valley of the River Tarn.

Burj Khalifa (Khalifa Tower)

Situated in Dubai this is the tallest free-standing structure in the world, the tallest of its skyscrapers reaches 829.8m (2,722ft) in length. The building opened in 2010 and is the centre piece of Dubai’s primary business district. Every aspect of the structure is record breaking and the architectural style is derived from the patterning systems of Islamic architecture.

Brenner Base Tunnel

Construction began in 2008 as a joint effort between Italy and Austria to create a 55km/34mile railway tunnel directly through the base of the Brenner massif portion of the Alps. It is considered on the of the key traffic connections between Northern and Southern Europe, the Brenner Base Tunnel is estimated for completion in 2025 and tunnel will be 1,600m/2,500ft below at the surface at its deepest point.

3D Computer Aided Design (upgrades)

Initial AutoCAD was released in 1982 and the ever-popular 3D modelling software, Solid works, came about in 1995. Efficient 3D modelling only became a real `thing` in the recent ten years after graphic-processing units improved to the point of being able to render high resolution images made from hundreds of sub-objects. The comparisons of recent 3D models to those of the 1990’s are astounding.

Smartphone and Wi-Fi Proliferation

The combination of Wi-Fi and portable Internet access connects us to an unceasing flow on information accessible at our fingertips! The term Wi-Fi is a trademarked name referring to the data-exchange technology based on the IEEE 802.11 standards and 2.4- and 5-GHz bands. While the technology may owe its conception to the 80’s commercialising of the term Wi-Fi didn’t begin until the year 2000. Smartphones were in existence in Japan from 1999 but like elsewhere only gained mass adoption in the mid 2000’s.

There have been some unbelievable advancements already through the 21st century and the possibilities for further advancements are more than exciting! In the next twenty years, there will be another top ten list that could include engineering principles of holographic and further 3D modelling, the possibilities of technology have only just nicely begun…

Share this post