You can do it. Not just little DIY projects around the house, but full blown feats of engineering. Do you need to go to university? Do you need to be a genius at MIT? Not really. It helps.
With these amazing engineering channels on YouTube you can learn a few things and stand on the shoulders of these engineering giants. Stay tuned for 10 places on YouTube to get engineering inspiration.
Traditional Japanese Woodworking
When you think Japanese engineering, do you think futuristic hyper-efficient methods and space-age materials? Makes sense given Japan’s commercial successes over the last 75 years. Yet, everything has to start somewhere. Traditional Japanese woodworking may be a good place to start to understand where the mindset of today’s engineers might have come from.
Try not to get taken away with all the other amazing woodworking YouTube channels, though.
If you found that inspiring, you might want to learn woodworking as well. There are lots of fun woodworking projects you could do. But if you work for Health & Safety you might want to skip these videos.
No one gets hurt but steel toed boots and tie-offs are few and far between. The flexibility offered by the jika-tabi split toed footwear allows them to deftly scale structures. Tie-offs would probably just end up tripping them, because of how they move around.
Motherboard bills itself as an on-line video magazine, “…dedicated to the intersection of technology, science and humans.” That’s pretty much engineering in a nutshell. The videos include some technical details, but they mostly celebrate the technology.
Take a gander at the insides of a secret Chinese Bitcoin mine. Maybe it will inspire you to mine Bitcoins for yourself.
Seeing people, whether professional engineers or hobbyists, accomplish great things is inspirational. Motherboard is a good place to find that inspiration and motivation. If a truck driver can build a non-working exact replica of the first nuclear bomb, you can pretty much do anything too.
MakeUseOf prides itself on being able to translate tech to everyday language. Bill Hammack, the producer of EngineerGuy on YouTube, kicks it up a notch. Do yourself a favor and watch his explanation of why a soda can is the way it is. You probably never cared, but after this you’ll think twice about crushing that engineering marvel on your head.
When you’ve got Make: calling you a, “…brilliant science-and-technology documentarian…” and Scientific American calling you a, “…smart, easygoing everyman with a firm understanding of the science.”, you know you’re doing something right. But Bill goes a step beyond just explaining stuff, to explaining why stuff succeeds or fails in the market.
Take a gander at how Bell Telephone’s Picture Phone almost created the Internet, but didn’t.
Are cars more your thing? Automotive engineering drove the American economy for decades. Still, most of us don’t truly understand how cars work, let alone how self-driving cars work. Engineering Explained’s Jason Fenske produces a new video each week to share that world with you.
Start out with how a two-stroke engine works and learn your way up to more exotic engineering like aerodynamics.
Speaking of exotic, Fenske also takes a look at some dream machines. We all want to drool over cars we’ll probably never drive, and his engineering insights into those cars makes them that much more enticing.
The video about the Nissan GTR LM Nismo is a great example of that. Not only is the car impressive for its looks and its capabilities, it also serves as inspiration when you learn about the design philosophy behind it.
If it’s the, “…biggest, tallest, longest, or deepest…” structure, there’s probably a full length documentary about it here. Entire episodes from the television series are here for you to watch in your own time. You may have even seen a few of them on the National Geographic Channel. The video production quality is immense, just like the stars of this show.
Here’s a video about an underwater highway being built in South Korea. Huge sections will take the 4-lane highway underwater and then bring it up to go over bridges before taking drivers back underwater again. Amazing.
Sometimes Megastructures will feature something just because it is really unique or too cool to pass up. The subject might not break any records but it may blow your mind. Every engineer needs to have their mind blown now and again. It keeps them interested and interesting.
What could be more interesting than a money factory? Even if you’ve taken a vow of poverty, you’ll find watching this video was time well invested.
Focusing on product design, producttank’s creator uses his videos to share his experience. He aims to give you insight and ideas to help you develop a portfolio or bring your own products to life. The “Students of Product Design” playlist may be of special interest to anyone new to the field.
If producttanks philosophy could be summed up in a few words, it’s inclusive design. By designing items that are easy and simple to use for the person with the least ability to use it, the product should be at least as useful to everyone else. A simple thought, but revolutionary. Or evolutionary? You’ll see.
You can also benefit from looking at his own designs and seeing where he draws inspiration from. What he does with an ordinary articulated desk lamp is ingenious. You know those floppy animal toys? The ones where you push on the bottom and they collapse, then you release the bottom and they stand up? He takes that mechanism and uses it to make a desk lamp that is infinitely changeable and uses less raw materials.
Plus, it’s cool. Take a look.
This list has its fair share of mechanical engineering, architecture, and design. It’s missing electronics. All of those other areas are becoming more and more dependent on the world of electronics. Whether you want to rapid prototype your own gadget or just have a better understanding of the role electronics plays, MJ Lorton will help.
Start with his videos on the basics of electronics, like this one on voltage, current, power, A/C, and D/C.
Solar power is a natural extension of Lorton’s offerings. You’ll find several videos about using the sun for electricity and heat, alongside his electronics tutorials. One of the most common questions about going off-grid is how much solar power will you need. His video on that topic is time well invested. Be sure to watch the rest of the videos in his “Solar Powered Home/Off Grid” playlist as well.
If the dozens of video’s about electronics on MJ Lorton’s channel isn’t enough, you definitely need to tune in to EEVblog. Certainly no one but an Aussie, like Dave Jones, could take electronics engineering and make it seem simple and crazy fun.
Most people start to snore when they start hearing about ohms and capacitors and sine waves. This guy reveals the awesome that is electronics. Doing things like blowing up capacitors in slow motion will do that. Everybody loves watching stuff blow up. Check it out.
Of course, with a personality that big, there has to be a rant somewhere. Everything is worth a rant. When you get a person who deals with the logic of circuits all the time, it’s hard to not use that logic to look at other things in the world.
Get a dose of that with Jones’ take on “The Australian Mandatory Internet Filter Folly”. Sure, it’s not exactly engineering, but it’s a good example of how the logical thinking engineering mind can be used to understand so many other things.
The Curious Engineer
Taking that logical engineer-type thinking and figuring out the how’s and why’s of life is what The Curious Engineer does. Let’s face it. We either become engineers or DIY’ers because we want answers to all sorts of questions. Seeing how an engineer finds those answers helps teach you to think more like an engineer.
See how he applies that thinking to answer why our finger pads wrinkle when soaked in water.
Of course, he also uses these skills to help you understand traditional “engineer-y type stuff” and things. It could be something fairly simple like how RAM (Random Access Memory) works to more abstract concepts like “What is Smart Grid Technology?”, or “How Does Hardware and Software Communicate?”
Just how does hardware and software communicate? Got 4 minutes? Watch the video and find out.
How Its Made
You didn’t think the grand-daddy of the science-explained videos world would be forgotten, did you? Since 2001, “How It’s Made” has fascinated us, educated us, and inspired us. No one expected that a show where Olympic Gold Medalist, Mark Tewksbury, talk over videos of everyday products being made, would still be going 13 years later. The hosts have changed, but not much else.
See an episode from season one, where the mysteries of making compact discs, mozzarella cheese, pantyhose, and fluorescent tubes are revealed. Funny, two of those things are practically obsolete now.
If you were mesmerized by that, you’ll be just as absorbed by more recent episodes. The format works. Something you couldn’t care less about is presented and by the end of the segment you’re a budding expert. Watch an artisan or machine take raw materials and form everyday objects.
As you do, you’ll find yourself asking how other things are made, or seeing something that might work for you. Don’t believe it? Watch this episode where bowling balls, barber poles, felt, and radar guns are made.
Bonus: Massachusetts Institute of Technology News
Talking about engineering without mentioning the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is some sort of technophile sin. But that’s not the only reason to include MIT. MIT is famous and envied worldwide for several reasons. They’ve helped produce some of the most successful engineers, inventors, and others in the world. They’re known for being just as creative as they are STEM smart.
Just take a look at any of the infamous Interesting Hacks To Fascinate People they’ve pulled off over time. So it’s no wonder that MIT’s YouTube news channel is equally impressive. Watch this video about using a smartphone to detect gasses. It could be life-saving stuff. You will be inspired too.
Of course, MIT is a school first. Almost anyone who has entertained the idea of becoming a professional engineer has wondered if they could cut it at MIT. Well, if you are reasonably intelligent, have excellent study skills, and just a smidge of luck, you could do it. To get a taste of life for an MIT student, watch this video about their popular MIT Admissions Blogs.
These videos are this writer’s picks for 10 fascinating engineering channels on YouTube. Yet there are hundreds more that could easily have been mentioned here. All are excellent sources for learning, sharing, inspiring, and creating.
Is there a YouTube channel you really like? Who do you watch to get the engineering juices flowing? Why don’t you share a few of your favorites with us?