PacSci Blog

The Science of Engineer It Weekend

May 3, 2019

Curiosity Days: Engineer It - May 3-5 at Pacific Science Center

We are constantly surrounded by engineering feats every day, but a lot of us don’t understand the science behind these technologies. At our upcoming Engineer It Weekend, explore the endless opportunities engineering generates, whether it’s treatment plants turning wastewater into resources, or using lasers to move cells inside of our bodies!

Here are some of our favorite engineering marvels that are shaping today’s world for tomorrow.

Ever notice how hot downtown Seattle feels, especially in the summer? It’s not just you. Temperatures in cities are usually a few degrees higher than they are in the surrounding rural areas. This difference in temperature has been attributed to a phenomenon called the urban heat island effect. There are a ton of factors that contribute to urban heat island effect, including the dark colors of roofs and roads, which absorb more light and thermal energy than light colored objects. Recently, engineers have taken the idea of lightly colored objects to replace the darker colored objects. For instance, Los Angeles has been paving over its dark streets with white streets to help reflect light, rather than absorb, making the surface cooler. We’d say that’s pretty cool!

On February 13, NASA’s Opportunity Rover rested among the Mars horizon. Opportunity Rover and its sibling, Curiosity, have been exploring the vast surface of Mars and its layers for the past several decades. Because of these rovers, we are now more familiar about Mars and its environment than ever before. In fact, these rovers discovered a water source that could potentially serve as a new home for humankind. This aero-engineering feat is really out of this world!

Mars Rover - Image from NASA
Courtesy of NASA

Engineering breakthroughs are used every day in the medical field. Ultrasounds are a non-invasive tool that takes images of internal body parts through high-frequency sound waves. The ultrasound machine is comprised of a probe, a monitor, a keyboard and a printer. The probe travels over the part of the body that covers the internal structures technicians want to photograph and emits sound waves ranging between 1 and 10 megahertz. The sound waves are reflected off the internal structures back to the probe, like an echo. The computer processor measures the speed and intensity of these echos, and then converts these measures to electronic images which displayed on the monitor. This remarkable engineering feat has been transformative in detecting abnormalities within the body, and making accurate and early diagnoses. Be sure to check out Biomedical Engineering Society at University of Washington’s presentation on ultrasounds to learn more on how sound waves help us see things.

Now that you’ve heard all about our favorites, what are some of your favorite engineering marvels past and present? Visit Pacific Science Center May 3-5 for Engineer It Weekend, and learn more about:

  • Entertainment Engineering
  • Neural Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • And MORE!