Construction Engineering Design Calculations and Rules of Thumb
Early period: It is estimated that cities started to appear in Mesopotamia, India, Egypt, and China approximately 5000 years ago. Egyptians took construction to avery high level by building large-scale pyramids. During later times, construction activities became more diverse. Roman aqua ducts, the Great Wall of China, and large-scale temple structures were built.
Development of the number system: Early engineers used very little mathematics for construction work. When they did use mathematics, it was mainly limited to geometry. Simple computations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division were extremely cumbersome.
A new era of the construction industry began due to the discovery of modern number system by Indian mathematician Aryabhatta around AD 500. One hundred years later Brahmagupta (AD 600) gave arbitrary rules for these four fundamental operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Brahmagupta’s system was transported to Europe through Arabia and to rest of the world.
Machinery: The next major development to benefit construction work was the use of machinery. Earlier construction workers used wedges, pulleys, and other hand-operated tools. Today construction is mostly an affair of labor and machinery. Backhoes, trucks, loaders, forklifts, cranes, derricks, conveyor belts, jackhammers, compactors, rollers, and compressors are some of the few machines used in construction sites. Internal combustion engine: The development of the internal combustion engine provided a new dimension to the construction industry. Nicklaus Otto, Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz, and James Atkinson invented internal combustion engines around 1870. The internal combustion engine or its variations are needed for today’s machinery.
Electricity: The discovery of electricity by Michael Faraday, James Joule, Thomas Edison, and Nicolai Tesla is another major development that affected the construction industry. It is unthinkable to do any construction activities without the use of electricity. Power drills, jackhammers, cutting machines, hoists, and conveyor belts are operated using electricity.
Computer: Computers have become an integral part of the construction industry. Scheduling, cost estimating, design, and construction management tasks are highly dependent on computers. Development of the computer by US engineers such as Attanasof, Allen Turing, and Von Neumann brought a new dimension to the construction industry.
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