National Engineer's Week is usually the third full week in February, and we think it's only fitting to take a moment to explore some of the greatest engineering feats around the world. We took into consideration the era in which they were built and the knowledge and materials that were available to designers.
Of course, engineering includes electronics and other micro-feats (We use computers and smartphones daily to do our work and connect with family and friends), but we wanted to have some fun exploring the biggest, boldest and bravest creations. So, without further adieu...
1. Grand Canyon Skywalk | Arizona, USA
Opened in 2007, the Skywalk is a horseshoe-shaped, glass-bottomed structure, jutting out
65 feet over the side of the Grand Canyon, about 0.9 miles from the canyon's base. It was constructed from special glass imported from Germany, on which people can safely walk to take in spectacular (read: terrifying – we don't love heights) views.
2. Akashi Kaikyo Bridge | Akashi Strait, Japan
Akashi Kaikyo is the world's longest suspension bridge, linking Kobe on the Honshu mainland to Awaji Island in Japan's Inland Sea. The middle 1.2-mile suspended section makes up half the length of the entire structure. It took 2 million workers 10 years to complete, and the steel cable used to construct it would encircle Earth more than seven times.
3. TauTona Mine | Carletonville, South Africa
The TauTona Mine is 2.4 miles deep, making it the deepest mine on Earth. It can take an hour to get from the rock face, where gold has been mined for 50-plus years, to the surface.
In fact, it's so deep that temperatures at the bottom can reach 130°F, and powerful air conditioners are needed to keep the air at a safe temperature for miners.
4. Palm Islands | Dubai, UAE
Built on 3.3 billion cubic feet of sand and 7 million tons of rock, Palm Islands is the largest man-made archipelago in the world. It takes its name from the shape of the islands, rather than the flora on the islands themselves. Only Jumeirah Island is open to the public, where visitors can stay in a number of luxury resorts.
5. Bailong Elevator | Zhangjiajie, China
The Bailong Elevator is a glass elevator set amidst ravines, gorges, waterfalls and giant sandstone pillars of Wulingyuan, in China's Hunan Province. Attached to the side of a cliff, it's 1,082 feet high, making it the highest outdoor elevator ever built. We imagine the views on the way up are breathtaking, but we don't know because: heights (we're not fans).
6. Itaipu Dam | Brazil/Paraguay, South America
It took 40,000 construction workers 10 years to build one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World: the Itaipu Dam. At 656 feet tall, it's the world's largest operating hydroelectric facility in terms of annual engergy generation (though not in terms of capacity; the Three Gorges Dam in China has that title).
7. The New Valley Project | Egypt
Egypt is a rapidly growing nation, but just 3 percent of its land is arable. In an attempt to ease this strain, a system of canals, called The New Valley Project, is being built with the aim of turning 900 square kilometers of desert into agricultural land by 2020. The canals will carry water from the reservoir of Lake Nasser to parts of the Sahara Desert.
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