Your House as an Engineered System

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Everyday Engineering - Understanding the Marvels of Daily Life
Look around you. Great masterpieces of engineering are everywhere. As soon as you get out of bed in the morning, you are putting centuries of scientific and mechanical ingenuity to use. So familiar are these structures, inventions, and services that they are all but invisible. Yet they are just as…
The Plain Old Telephone Service
Episode 20 of Everyday Engineering
Begin the first of four lectures on telecommunications technology by tracking the landline telephone system, known in the trade as "plain old telephone service." Follow the pair of copper wires from your landline phone to the multi-pair cables strung from power poles to the all-important local exchange and beyond.
Three Structural Systems for Load Bearing
Episode 3 of Everyday Engineering
Examine one of the most important aspects of modern building codes: the design of a house for structural load carrying. Focus on two of the three major approaches to this crucial function: bearing wall construction and heavy timber frame construction. Both have been used for thousands of years.
The Internal Combustion Engine
Episode 26 of Everyday Engineering
Begin the first of four lectures on automotive engineering by exploring that marvel of mechanical sophistication: the internal combustion engine. Professor Ressler uses homebuilt models to demonstrate the ingenious design of the four-stroke power cycle and how it works in perfect synchrony with a host of other engine sub-systems.
Passive Solar and Net-Zero-Energy Homes
Episode 19 of Everyday Engineering
How much energy can you save with a properly designed house? Would you believe all of it? Trace the trend in passive solar and net-zero-energy homes that are engineered to stay comfortable year-round by exploiting sunlight in winter and shielding against it in summer, with minimal operating costs.
Mesa Verde and Ancient Settlements
Explore parks where geology supported the settlement of people in North America. Begin at the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings, cleverly engineered to exploit natural shelter and rock seeps. Then survey other cliff dwellings and pueblos in the Southwest.
Robotics Series
Robots. The mere word conjures up a bevy of mind-bending images pulled straight from popular science fiction tales. But robots aren't just the stuff of entertainment. They're real. They're everywhere around you. Yet for all their seen (and unseen) prevalence, robotics remains mysterious to most of us. Take an in-depth…
Site Design and Storm Runoff
Episode 6 of Everyday Engineering
What happens to the precipitation that falls on your house, your lot, and your neighbors' properties? Study the problem of site design, focusing on how storm runoff is directed away from homes and returned to a natural watercourse, without causing flooding along the way.
The Building Envelope
Episode 5 of Everyday Engineering
Now that your house is framed, it needs a building envelope that can shed rainwater and melting snow, and also keep precipitation from entering through the foundation. Learn about the five integrated layers of protection: shingles and cladding, drainage plane, insulation, vapor barrier, and drywall.
Dam, Reservoir, and Aqueduct Design
Episode 7 of Everyday Engineering
Now consider the water that you want in your house--for drinking, cooking, and bathing. Examine the technologies that collect water from a watershed and transport it to a municipality. Explore different designs for dams, and marvel at the Catskill Aqueduct that carries fresh water to New York City.
Electrical Power Transmission: The Grid
Episode 14 of Everyday Engineering
Study the technological marvel called the grid--the system that transmits electricity from its point of generation to users. Learn why electrical transmission lines come in threes, why AC power is used instead of DC, and the reason transmission voltages are so high.
Suspension, Steering, and Braking
Episode 29 of Everyday Engineering
Conclude your survey of automotive engineering by studying the three systems that control a vehicle: suspension, steering, and braking. Begin with the technology that's vital to all three: your tires. Close by analyzing the antilock braking system (ABS), learning how it works and how it knows when to engage.