While some engineering accomplishments are evolutions on an existing concept, some are completely fresh takes. Nature has always been a source of inspiration. In many cases one needs to start with the fundamental operating principals in order to find the breakthrough. Knowledge of this theory may then develop into a practical product. Then again, not all inventions are practical; some gain their value from beauty instead. Happy reading.
A good engineer often has a gut feel for what a good design looks like, but having an idea of what has worked in nature can be a source of inspiration. While "formal knowledge is essential," it is far from sufficient in order to be a good engineer. "No knowledge is irrelevant."
Cycle World, August 2019
A Dutch company has developed equipment to turn excess heat into cooling using thermoacoustics. With the size, weight, cost and input heat requirement, however, it sounds more like a science experiment than a practically engineered product. I thought the concept was hot, but after hearing it I’ve cooled on it.
Hydrocarbons 21, August 2019
Hydraulic systems can often be found on big, slow equipment. However, their low weight and high power density mean that hydraulics may have a future in flying drones. The control strategy is complex and requires thought and development, but the outlook for hydraulics is looking up.
ASME, August 2019
A hoverboard has flown from France to England 110 years after the first aerial crossing. However, it had to stop halfway for fuel and had 3 helicopters in support. One would think that with a century of progress, by now one would favour a more practical means of flight.
Engineering and Technology, August 2019