50 Free & Fascinating Online Documentaries for Engineers
No matter the subject, there will always be a number of varying opinions regarding progress, philosophies, and ethics – and engineering is no different. Documentaries abound on where technology has been and where it may possibly take humanity, helping engineers discover a wide range of perspectives regarding their chosen career. Regardless of whether or not one fully agrees with what the filmmakers have to say, it still pays to try and gain a broad idea as to what sort of projects and opinions are out there regarding most facets of the field.
1. Design: e2 – Deeper Shade of Green : Discover how 3 designers hope to apply green engineering and design initiatives to the future of architecture and sustainability.
2. Design: e2 – Gray to Green : Civil engineering and environmentally-friendly concepts merge in this insightful peek into Boston’s “Big Dig” project.
3. Popular Mechanics: The New Technologies of War : Watch this documentary for an interesting glimpse into how science and technology are working together to change the face of human warfare.
4. Push Button House : Shipping containers converted for use as sustainable housing are celebrated for both their engineering and artistic achievements.
5. Super Structures: Eurotunnel : One of many Super Structures documentaries, this one focuses on the Eurotunnel and its status as a symbol of human innovation.
6. Super Structures: Hibernia GBS : Any engineers interested in or working with offshore rigs ought to check out the structure of the Hibernia platforms.
7. Super Structures: International Space Station : A considerable amount of ingenuity and creativity went into building the International Space Station, and engineers wanting to learn more about its construction will appreciate this documentary.
8. Super Structures: London Underground : Dive into the London Underground and learn about how engineers designed and constructed one of the largest subway systems in the world.
9. Super Structures: NORAD – Cheyenne Mountain : One of the most stunning achievements of engineering, NORAD keeps the continent safe by monitoring suspicious aircraft from a bunker deep within a Colorado mountain.
10. Super Structures: Skyscrapers : Skyscrapers exist at the intersection of art and engineering, and this documentary celebrates their technical and creative achievements.
11. Super Structures: Grassburg Mine : Explore New Guinea’s Grassburg Mine, which plays host to the largest deposits of both copper and gold in the world, and the engineering mankind utilizes to snatch it up.
12. Super Structures: Panama Canal : Another Super Structures series, this time focusing on how engineers struggled against the jungle to design and dig the Panama Canal.
13. Super Structures: Seawolf : See how engineers design submarine prototypes for the United States Navy meant to keep the inhabitants inside safe and secure from attack.
14. Super Structures: Kansai International Airport : Also considered “an engineering marvel,” the Kansai International Airport sits on its own island in order to best serve passengers.
15. Super Structures: Snowy River : Learn all about Snowy River Dam in Australia with an emphasis on how engineers and builders struggled to design and construct the enormous structure.
16. The Nature of Things: Build Green : Green engineering has become something of a lucrative industry right now, and anyone interested in what designers, architects, and others are doing within the field should check out this informative documentary.
17.Welcome to Macintosh : Computer engineers will appreciate the effort that went into tracing the evolution of Apple technology, starting with its first PC and ending with the iPod.
18. Objectified : Engineers share a complex relationship with their tools, and this fascinating documentary looks into how they shape creations as well as those who design them.
19. Science Fiction, Science Fact : Scientists and engineers alike are developing new technologies that push the limits of what people once considered outside the realm of possibility.
20. Nuclear Nightmares : One of the most controversial engineering feats in the history of mankind, the nuclear bomb raises quite a bit of speculation on the nature of radiation.
21. Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity : This documentary dwells on the speculative, paying close attention to Ray Kurzewil’s theories of mankind’s future relationship with computer technology.
22. Upgrade Me : Simon Armitage delves into peoples’ fascination with constantly replacing their gadgets with newer models, providing some engineers a valuable glimpse into their consumers’ psychology.
23. Where’s My Robot : One man goes on a journey to try and find the robots promised by science fiction and other speculative works, tracing the history and technology along the way.
24. The Machine That Made Us : Johann Gutenberg’s printing press is undoubtedly one of the most influential engineering feats of all time, and the always amazing Stephen Fry discusses its history, impact, and – of course – design and construction.
25. Technocalyps : Transhumanist philosophy postulates the possible future of technology and how it relates to the human experience and existence.
26. The Race for Radar & Stealth : Watch at how engineering changes the face of war and the needs of the military come to dictate many technological advances.
27. The Satellite Story : Learn all about the history and development of satellite technology, including many of the possible implications for the future of humanity.
28. The Future Car : Engineers with a career or an interest in pursuing car design will love this documentary, which poses a few possibilities for vehicular technologies to come.
29. The Sustainable City : Civil engineers, architects, and others have been collaborating in order to figure out how to best design and construct cities with greater sustainability.
30. Building Gods : Another transhumanist documentary, this time covering a wide variety of different philosophies and possibilities for artificial intelligence.
31. Black Sky: The Race for Space : The X Prize intends to reward private individuals who can engineer a spacecraft meeting their exact specifications, and Black Sky documents some of the progress that participants have made.
32. Batman Tech : Fans of engineering, technology, and the iconic superhero will love how this documentary draws real-life parallels between the Dark Knight’s gadgetry and their real-life equivalents.
33. Boldly Go : Marvel at how engineering past, present, and future will assist humanity in its desire to explore the universe beyond Earth’s borders.
34. Human V2.0 : Peer into one possible perspective of how humanity and technology may someday converge and forever change the course of history.
35. Failed Inventions : Any engineer with a pile of less-than-satisfactory projects to his or her name will appreciate this irreverent take on frustrated and failing inventors.
36. Dangerous Knowledge : The BBC attempts to shed some light on four brilliant, revolutionary mathematicians who have shaped the world – and, of course, science and engineering – only to tragically succumb to insanity and suicide.
37. Cryonics: Death in the Deep Freeze : Putting individuals into cryonic sleep will always carry with it heavy controversy, though regardless of one’s opinion on the matter there is still a generous amount of engineering involved in the process.
38. The Invisible Machine : Learn about the devastating effect that painstakingly engineered electromagnetic pulse weaponry can have on a society.
39. The Art of Engineering: The Sydney Opera House : This documentary illustrates how great art and great engineering work in tandem in order to create great architecture.
40. Beyond Human: The Cyborg Revolution : Dailymotion hosts a 9-part documentary series on how scientists and engineers alike hope to tap the potential of the human body in order to improve upon – or even infuse – robotics.
41. Car of the Future : Another look at the possible future of the automobile, this time offered through popular television series Nova.
42. Wright Brothers’ Flying Machine : Aviation and aerospace engineering owe almost everything to the Wright Brothers’ progress in creating, testing, and developing a viable flying contraption.
43. Battle of the X-Planes : Lockheed Martin and Boeing once found themselves locked in a grueling competition to see who could develop the greatest fighting jet in the United States.
44. The Great Robot Race : Nova follows the participants of an unmanned robot race, discussing how they came to develop their marvelous machinery.
45. The World’s Biggest Machines : This episode of Modern Marvels educates viewers on some of the largest engineering projects and accomplishments in the world.
46. Barbarian Battle Tech : Engineers interested in the history of their productive profession ought to check out the innovative designs utilized by ancient civilizations.
47. Copper : Without this humble metal, many of the impressive feats of engineering that have revolutionized humanity would have never taken shape.
48. Breakfast Tech : Learn how engineering and technology help kitchen staff members whip up hearty, delicious breakfasts for large groups with even larger appetites.
49. Dredging : Dredges help both the shipping and construction industries significantly, and they require painstaking, detailed engineering to properly design and use.
50. Extreme Aircraft : Another Modern Marvels episode, this time focusing on some of the latest developments in the world of aviation.
As in all disciplines, opinions regarding the different aspects of the engineering discipline differ from person to person – and many of these have been documented in various films available on the internet. Whether looking for information on the possibilities of future technologies, ideas regarding ethics, or almost anything in between, it behooves the engineering student to broaden his or her horizons and take in all that he or she can handle. Even if the main points of view stand in stark contrast to their own, it still helps to be aware of as many sides as possible.