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‘Built to last’ is a phrase you hear a lot less than you used to. One reason for that is that things aren’t built to last at all, they’re expected to do their job for a certain length of time then step aside gracefully for the next innovation. The average lifespan of a mobile phone, for example, is reckoned to be about 18 months.

In the age of the disposable device, however, there is still a need for longevity.

This year The Engineer Online has been celebrating the 150th anniversary of The Engineer magazine, so we have done a fair bit of looking back.

To mark the end of The Engineer’s anniversary year we are planning to do a little bit of looking forward. One of the themes of the year has been the enduring legacy of the distinguished engineers of yesteryear.

All around us are the results of the efforts of previous generations of engineers, and to the Victorians in particular we owe a good chunk of our national infrastructure.

What, we wondered, would be seen as the legacy of this era of engineering and technology when (as it surely will) The Engineer celebrates its 300th anniversary in 2156.

Are there any engineering landmarks or technological innovations with their roots in our own time – let’s call it the 1990s and the first six years of the new century – that will still be there in 100 or 150 years? (For the sake of this exercise, by the way, we are assuming that the world is still in reasonable shape. The alternative is too depressing for the run up to Christmas).

A few strong contenders emerge at once. The Channel Tunnel should still be around, and linking Britain with France, a dream since Victorian times, will be seen as a genuine achievement.

And if it leads to the advances that are predicted, this could one day be seen as the pioneering era of nanotechnology.

What about the new Wembley Stadium? After all, the old Wembley almost made it to 100 years and the new version should be more than capable of exceeding that (no jokes about it just being ready for the 2156 Cup Final please).

What we really want, however, is your help. Please use the link below to give us your suggestions for the long-term engineering and technology legacy of this generation, whether positive or negative.

The Engineer will look at these for a special end of anniversary year feature in December, published in the magazine and online.

All contributions will be gratefully received. Many thanks.

Andrew Lee


The Engineer & The Engineer Online