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Website of the Week — Civil Engineering History


Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations. Our web guide is VOA's Art Chimes.

This week it's a site that highlights some of the greatest creations of human builders: the buildings and dams and bridges and other structures that are landmarks of civil engineering. They're featured on the history and heritage pages of the American Society of Civil Engineers website at asce.org/history.

The main attraction is information about almost 250 landmark projects in thousands of years of civil engineering history, including famous ones like the Brooklyn Bridge in New York and Machu Picchu in Peru, but also lesser known structures like the Pelton Impulse Water Wheel in California and the Woodhead Dam in South Africa.

PETROSKI: "They're at least 50 years old. They must have had some significant advance in civil engineering associated with them. And they must also have a significant impact when they were built so they opened up new ways of doing things or had a very strong influence on the economic vitality of a region."

Duke University professor Henry Petroski chairs the American Society of Civil Engineers committee on history and heritage. Their website also features the 10 civil engineering achievements considered to have had the greatest positive impact on life in the 20th century.

PETROSKI: "Over a century, there was a great deal of advance in technology, but that wasn't for technology's sake. It was really to make life more comfortable, to give people more freedom of movement. Something like the Interstate Highway System in the United States made it very, very convenient for people to go from place to place."

Other so-called Monuments of the Millennium include long-span bridges, sanitary landfills, and water supply and distribution.

Also on the civil engineering history website, you can learn about the Seven Wonders of the Modern World including Europe's Channel Tunnel, San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, and the Panama Canal, where American engineers took over a failed French project and completed it, thanks to significant advances in engineering.

PETROSKI: "Largely in organization and movement of materials, and also in conquering the disease problem. The canal was completed in 1914, and to this day is really one of the greatest achievements, civil engineering achievements of all time."

To learn more about these and other great examples of civil engineering, point your browser to asce.org/history, or get the link to this and more than 200 other Websites of the Week from our site, voanews.com.

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