Of all known sciences, engineering is the only study that converts physical creations into new ones. Consequently, engineering, and especially one that concentrates on the building environment leads to creativity and innovation among engineers, as well as to the development of new and more beautiful structures. Engineering and the building environment study focuses on teaching students on how to construct various structures in the most effective and efficient manner. In order to equip students with all essential skills, engineering and building environment delves deep into training on various scientific and analytical concepts.
Units and Common Terms
To begin with, engineering and the building environment trains students on structural analysis. In most cases, this training usually starts with elementary training. These include elementary structural analysis 1 and 2. In structural analysis one, students are taught about determinate structures, strain energy concepts, principles of virtual work, and Mueller Breslau principle. Structural analysis two focuses on the analysis of indeterminate structures such as slope deflection, moment distribution, and consistent deformation. Additionally, students are taught elementary structural design, which is mostly divided into structural design one and two. Construction engineering is the other major topic included in this subject. In general, this topic includes subtopics such as construction engineering, project management for construction, land and industrial relations for constructions, and construction process.
Building engineering systems is another unit that focuses on salient issues in the construction process. In general, this unit is composed of various topics such as, building engineering systems, HVAC system design, thermal analysis of buildings, building acoustics, and building illuminations. In line with the building engineering systems unit, students are taught building science. Overly, this unit focuses on training on the thermal environment, convection, radiation, psychometrics, thermal comfort, condensation, introduction to compressible viscous flow, and flow in pipes. Importantly, students are also trained on geotechnical materials and analysis unit. Essentially, this unit trains on soil mechanics as well as various topics such as the classification of soils and index properties, moisture-density relationships, the theory of consolidation, and stress distribution.
Finally, the last compulsory unit in this study is the building envelope design. Notably, this unit trains on critical engineering lessons such as the influences of various technical features such as heat flow, air and moisture direction, performance assessment, and assessment of a building. Moreover, this unit also trains on the design of walls, roofs, assemblies, and joints as well as on the causes of deterioration and penetrative measures.
In most cases, students have a chance to select elective units depending on their areas of specialization. Students usually select three units for their studies. The common elective units are as follows:
- Computer programming
- Advanced structural analysis
- Advanced structural design
- Modern building materials
- Fire and smoke controls in buildings
- Building energy conservation technologies
- Indoor air quality
- Control systems in buildings
- Building services
Importantly, when a student is studying engineering, they should need to know various engineering terms so that their lessons are easy to understand. In engineering and building environment, the most common words are arch, angle, blueprint, benchmark, bond, cement, engineer, fascia, kilogram, Portland cement, and Young’s modulus. Overly, most of these terms are common. Nonetheless, words such as benchmark, blueprint, and Young’s modulus may be uncommon to some people. Young’s modulus is a measure of the elasticity of a material. Benchmark, on the other hand, refers to the standardized measurements for a specific area. Blueprint is a technical engineering design showing the processes that must be followed in the construction process.
Concepts in Engineering
Hydraulic systems use incompressible fluids such as oil to transmit a force from one location of the fluid to another. Hydraulic systems are common, their presence is visible in most aircraft landing gears, and vehicles brake systems. Pascal’s law on hydraulics states that “when there is an increase in pressure at any point in a confined fluid, there is an equal increase at every other point of the container.” (Moran et al.)
Application of hydraulic systems is illustrated in the hydraulic lift of a vehicle. In this case, a small force is applied to the small piston of the hydraulic lift. In turn, this force is multiplied many times, in effect, the hydraulic lift is able to lift a huge load. For example, if a hydraulic lift has two pistons, and the small piston has an area of 1 square inch while the big piston measure 10 square inches, a 1 pound weight on the small piston may lead to a decrease in the piston by 10 inches and a rise in the big piston by 1 inch. Moreover, this force will lift a 10-pound mass on the big piston. Noteworthy, these measurements can be calculated using the formula below.
Pressure in piston 1= Pressure in piston 2 (Pressures are equal throughout)
Since pressure equals to force per unit area, it follows that
1 pound/1 square inches= 10 pound/ 10 square inches
Simply put, electricity is the flow of current in a conductor. Electric current occurs when electrons flow from one atom to the next. Consequently, the better a material conducts; the easier it is for current to flow. Notably, there are two forms of electricity, static and current. Static electricity occurs when there is friction between two objects that have opposite forces between them. In effect, one object becomes positively charged and the other negatively charged. In this case, there is no current flow between them (Smith). However, once they move close enough to each other, electrons can rapidly discharge between these two materials and cause a spark. Primarily, the law of static charges says that like charges repel and unlike charges attract each other.
In current electricity, the key terms are volt, ampere, and ohms. The volt refers to the force that makes free electrons flow. As a result, the volt is the electromotive force required to push a one-ampere current through a conductor that has a resistance of one ohm. Ampere refers to the flow rate of electric current. Finally, the ohm is the resistance of a conductor. Noteworthy, ohms indicate the relationship between electric current (I), voltage (V), and resistance (R) in a conductor.
Ohm’s law is expressed as V=I*R
For example, if a car battery has 12 V and the car wiring has a resistance of 3 Ohms, the current can be calculated as follows:
12 V= I*3
Acoustic is a science that deals with sound, its transmission, production, effects, and detection. Overly, acoustic deals with all phenomenon that use the same principles of waves and frequency. In this case, sound is mostly a vibration that travels through a medium such as air or solids. On the contrary, electromagnetic waves do not need any medium. Noteworthy, sound cannot travel through a vacuum since it needs a medium for it to travel. During the vibrations, molecules hit one another and return to their original position. In effect, the regions of the medium used to transmit sound become alternately more and less dense respectively (Callister). The more dense areas are condensations and the less dense ones are rarefactions. Since the direction of the wave is similar to that of the propagation, this wave is longitudinal.
Light is a natural agent that enables organisms to see. Light cannot travel through opaque objects, it requires no medium, it can penetrate transparent objects, it travels in a straight line, and it reflects when it falls on a polished object. When light travels across two mediums, its velocity decreases and it bends. Basically, this process is called refraction. Diffusion occurs when the light is incident to a rough surface (Smith). In this case, the light is scattered into various directions. Absorption of light occurs when a ray of light strikes a surface of a material and the energy from the light source is transferred to the material. Noteworthy, during absorption the energy is transformed into various forms. A good example of the use of absorption is the conversion of solar energy into electrical energy by a solar panel.
Thermal studies are scientific analysis of how various components behave in different temperatures. In essence, all the samples behaviors are recorded as a function of temperature and time. Thermal studies are used in the production of various polymers, metal alloys, foods, and electrical components. In the production of polymers, the different temperatures used in the production determine the stiffness, oxidation levels, strength, reliability, and texture of the final product. In the production of alloys, various metal alloys require different temperatures and pressure (Smith). In principle, this production technique is called thermal analysis. Similarly, a thermal study is important in the production of various food products. Ideally, this is necessary for food storage, transportation, and preparation. A popular use of thermal analysis is in the production of ultrahigh treated (UHT) milk.
Key Principles of Material Science
Material science is an in-depth understanding of the structure of a substance at the ultra-molecular level and the way this influences its mechanical, magnetic, electrical, and physical properties. In light of this, various scientists have come up with principles that assist in the identification of the properties of various materials. The main principles of material science are as follows:
- The Neumann’s symmetry principle says that a physical property shows the anisotropy contained in the crystal G property is similar G crystal
- The Curie’s symmetry principle gives a cause-effect relationship. In this case, the principle states that, “A crystal in an electric or magnetic field (or other cause) possesses a property (effect), it is the crystal that determines the physical effects due to the cause.”
- Henri Le Chateleir’s principle: If any change of condition is imposed on a system in equilibrium, the system will alter in such a way as to counteract the imposed change (Moran and Shapiro).
The Curie’s symmetry principle is one of the easiest to apply. Basically, the physical structure of all elements is similar to that of its components. For example, a copper metal plate is a good conductor of electricity than a wooden block. Primarily, this is due to the specific components in each material. Evidently, copper has many free electrons than wood; consequently, it is a good conductor.
Current Agendas in Sustainable Energy
With an aim of developing sustainable, affordable, and reliable buildings, scientists now more than ever before have engaged in various researches aimed at developing more appropriate structures than those in yester years. Currently, scientists use a building delivery and operation process when developing new structures. Importantly, this process aims at developing green building research and technologies (Moran et al.). Another agenda is the use of performance metrics and evaluation. In principle, this method aims at providing high-quality data and scientific tools that are used in the decision-making process. Primarily, this information is necessary for making decisions on finance and in the development of sustainable attributes in the building.
On the same breath, engineers focus on the development of integrated building systems. Ideally, this agenda focuses on the building form and envelope, which aims at developing high quality, energy-efficient, and healthy environment. In practice, this agenda entails the use of solar power. In addition, it focuses on the lighting and daylighting of structures. Generally, this aims at maximizing the use of natural light. Moreover, engineers also focus on passive, active, and hybrid HVAC and controls. Ideally, scientists aim at developing structures that are properly ventilated and do not require intense use of air conditioning systems. Similarly, engineers aim at ensuring optimal use of materials for the construction purpose. Notably, the required materials should minimize environment, ecological, and human impacts. Finally, engineers focus on ensuring there are efficient water use and management (Moran et al.). Basically, they use tactics such as water recycling and integrated water management tactics.
From the discussions above, proper engineering and building environment are important for both the engineers and occupants of the building. The use of proper engineering techniques protects the construction workers from fatalities at the construction site. In addition to this, the construction of buildings using proper engineering methods ensures that structures are safe, sustainable, and reliable for occupation. In light of this, buildings should always be constructed using the required engineering methods.
Callister, W. Materials Science and Engineering: An Introduction (7th Ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Publishers, 2006. Print.
Moran, Michael et al. Fundamentals of Engineering Thermodynamics (8th Ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Publishers, 2014. Print.
Smith, W. Principles of Materials Science and Engineering (3rd Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education Publishers, 1995. Print.