From the 1980s – predicting the future

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In People & Media

Dan Dare - The Eagle ComicIn my early teens I loved the Eagle comic, it had a great mix of different stories from different time periods along with great artwork. Recently when cleaning out the attic I was delighted to find my old copies.

Among the pages of comic stories there was an interesting article detailing future technology and in particular predicting the use of flying drones as weapons platforms. Below is a copy of the page. It was a very good attempt at predicting the future by the comic almost 30 years ago. This particular comic is from June 1988.

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Eurovision 2014: How to pick a winning song

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In People & Media

Eurovision 2014
Eurovision 2014

The 59th  Eurovision final in on tonight in Copenhagen, Denmark. Unfortunately Ireland’s entry, ‘Can-linn‘ (now called can’t win), wont be in the final as they were knocked out at the semi-final stage. Ireland are the most successful country in Eurovision history having won the contest 7 times. However our last win was in 1997. Our best place finish since 2000 has been 8th. We need to improve.

What can we do to increase our changes of getting to the final and winning?

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10 signs that you are mad about AutoCAD

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In People & Media

AutoCAD logoAutoCAD, an engineering drafting software programme, will be with us for a while yet. But its dominance is diminishing. It is slowly going the way of the drawing boards it replaced. This is especially the case for larger projects. Newer 3-d drafting and design packages like Revit are proving their usefulness to engineers, architects and clients alike.

But what are 10 signs that you are mad about AutoCAD?

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Comparing building sizes with Mapfrappe

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In People & Media, Uncategorized

Google Earth is an amazing programme, especially its measurement tools. I have compared measuring buildings on Google Earth with an on the ground measurement and the difference is usually less than one metre. In fact using Google Earth can be as good as pacing the building out by foot and a whole lot quicker. It has a number of drawbacks of course, but it is ideal for a quick check of the foot print of a building.

There is a website that uses Google Earth to allow you to easily compare the relative sizes of building footprints and much more. It is called Mapfrappe, click here for link.

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Remembering Peter Rice

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In People & Media

Peter Rice
Peter Rice (1935-1992) -Source Arup

Ireland’s Peter Rice was one of the most talented Engineers of recent times. His work covered iconic buildings including The Sydney Opera House, The Pompidou Centre and Kansai’s International Airport.

Sadly this month marks the 21st anniversary of his death. To commemorate this, a number of events will be held in Ireland.

One of the most interesting is an exhibition of his work. This will be held at the National College of Art and Design in Thomas Street, Dublin. It will include lectures and a screening of a film about his career. But the bit that has really interested me is that there will be scale models of many structural details which Peter Rice designed. These were made by students from DIT, Dublin Institute of Technology.

For those who are interested in learning more about this great engineer and his work, the event is called ‘Learning from Peter Rice: Under the Skin’. It will run from the 17th to the 31th of October (2013).  Click here for more information on the event.

For those of you unable to attend, the film about his career which will be shown as part of the event is available on the Arup company website, click here to view. Click here for more information about his career.

Finally a quote:

“Rice was, perhaps, the James Joyce of structural engineering. His poetic invention, his ability to turn accepted ideas on their head and his rigorous mathematical and philosophical logic made him one of the most sought-after engineers of our times.”

Jonathan Glancey in an obituary to Peter Rice.

Saving energy: Irish Rail

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In People & Media

Rail trackIrish Rail announced earlier this month that they will be introducing new measures to save energy, and therefore reduce their fuel bills. The steps already implemented have reduced energy usage by a third. In fact, so impressed were the French National Rail Company, SNCF, that they sent some of their officials to investigate, see more here. Irish Rail intend to extend the cost cutting measures this year, a list of the proposed changes is contained in their press release, here. The most controversial change is the planned reduction in the size of trains (less carriages) during off peak times.

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