an engineer’s tour of america

New York City

File:NYC-Skyline-1.jpgPhoto by Shmuel Spiegelman via Wikimedia Commons

From the Brooklyn Bridge, the George Washington Bridge, and the Bayonne Bridge to the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, and the subway system that started operating in 1904, many of New York City’s engineering achievements help millions of people get from here to there every day.  No matter how you navigate your way around the city, while you’re there, check out the Empire State Building, the Chrysler building, and Statue of Liberty, which was a gift from France in 1886.  These and many other landmarks stand tall as iconic symbols of the city and our nation while serving as lasting tributes to the legacies of the architects, artists, and construction engineers who built them.

oak ridge & Knoxville

Once the “City Behind the Fence,” Oak Ridge was constructed in secret on farmland taken over by the federal government for use in the World War II Manhattan Project.

Today, Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a world-renowned complex of Department of Energy facilities, centers of research, and supercomputers including Titan, recently ranked as the most powerful computer in the world. ORNL programs focus on neutron science, energy, systems biology and national security, and its Manufacturing Demonstration Facility is turning scientific discoveries into applications that support American manufacturing.

Just down the road, the city of Knoxville is home to the Tennessee Valley Authority, America’s largest public power provider, and the University of Tennessee’s College of Engineering, which celebrated its 175th anniversary last year.


Rich in southwestern culture and heritage, Albuquerque draws tourists to its architecture, artwork and cuisine – and engineers to the groundbreaking technical accomplishments at Sandia National Laboratories.

Sandia traces its roots to World War II’s Manhattan Project, which developed the first atomic bombs. Today, it’s a diverse multi-program research hub, providing technologies to protect the nation’s infrastructure. Among its many achievements: clean room technologies, triggers for car airbags, high-resolution radars and satellite sensors, and computer chip cooling. Sandia also houses the Z Machine, the world’s largest lab-based pulsed-power facility.

Nearby, you’ll find established and emerging technology companies, including an Intel manufacturing center, and the University of New Mexico’s School of Engineering. Even sports get in on the engineering action here.  Minor League Baseball’s Albuquerque Isotopes team has called “The Lab” home since 2003.

Los AngelesLA skyline

Hollywood gets the hype, but Los Angeles is more than movie stars and Rodeo Drive.  It’s a hub of engineering, with top-notch universities like the University of Southern California and landmarks like the Los Angeles Aqueduct, and Griffith Observatory, the city where the space shuttle was developed is home to 318 aerospace manufacturing companies, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon, technology and digital media are boosting the entertainment industry, and L.A.’s universities are  educating future engineers.  UCLA is the Internet’s birthplace and a research leader. USC’s innovative approaches, including the Viturbi Startup Garage accelerate engineering entrepreneurship.



San Diego is California’s birthplace, and its history is rich in engineering innovation.  In the 1970s, the University of California San Diego (UCSD) helped revolutionize PC accessibility.  UCSD also helped grow the area into a biotechnology leader.  Hundreds of biotech companies, contract research organizations and non-profits have facilities here, including Integrated DNA TechnologiesMerckPfizer and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.  In 2010, the city became an iHub Innovation Center.  QualcommNokiaLG ElectronicsCricket Communications and Novatel Wireless are headquartered in San Diego.  Its coastline also services an impressive Navy, Marine and Coast Guard presence.  And comic and sci-fi fans know it as home to Comic-Con.



Engineers and environmentalists flock to Seattle employers like Microsoft, Amazon, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, with its cyber security focus and climate change, energy, and disease research. Boeing and T-Mobile call the Emerald City area home. Google and Facebook have offices here, along with clean tech leaders like McKinstry and hundreds of biopharmaceutical and medical companies.  Downtown, $1.4 billion in sponsored grants and contracts fund research at the University of Washington.  Visit the Space Needle for a 360-degree view of the city, Mt. Rainier, and the Cascade and Olympic mountains.  The Ballard Locks move boats between Seattle Harbor and Puget Sound.  Don’t forget coffee at the original Starbucks at Pike Place Market.



Columbus, Ohio is home to hundreds of corporate managing offices.  When it comes to engineering, you’ll find the world’s largest nonprofit research and development company, Battelle Memorial Institute, along with architectural, engineering, and environmental firm DLZ and infrastructure experts Burgess & Niple.  Business is important at The Ohio State University College of Engineering, too.  It ranks first in industry research expenditures among national engineering programs.  Around town, check out the Greater Columbus Convention Center’s sharp-angled architecture.  Families love the Center of Science and Industry.  Jack Hanna made the Columbus Zoo famous.  And we bet you didn’t know: there’s more than one Hoover Dam.



Space, energy and medical industries mean 59,000 engineers call Houston home. According to Forbes, that’s the second-highest concentration of engineers in the country. Many of them are educated by our Houston dialogue hosts, Texas A&M, as well as Rice University and the University of Houston. You’ll find ExxonMobil and other oil and gas “majors” in the Energy Corridor. Biotechnology is growing in Houston, which already has the world’s largest medical complex, the Texas Medical Center. And at NASA’s Space Center Houston, you can learn about space exploration and check out the new space shuttle replica, Independence.



Motor City is where Henry Ford built his first automobile and the “Big Three,” General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, are still headquartered here.  But Detroit is about more than vehicles.  It’s home to Compuware, DTE Energy and nearby top-notch engineering schools at Michigan State and University of Michigan.  Take the People Mover to explore the city.  Celebrate innovation at The Henry Ford.  See Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry frescos at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Tour the original location of Motown Records and check out the Detroit Science Center’s Science of Rock & Roll exhibit.  Cranbrook boasts an impressive natural history and science museum, gardens and art museum. For sports fans, there are the Pistons, Red Wings, Lions, and Tigers.

Raleigh & Durham

raleigh-ncThere’s no shortage of brain power in the Raleigh-Durham area.  Within a 30-mile radius, you’ll find Duke University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel HillResearch Triangle Park (RTP) is one of the country’s oldest research and development parks.  From Fortune 100 corporations to start-ups and the Federal government, RTP is home to more than 170 companies and research institutes, many focused on biotechnology, information technology, and clean technology. For fun, study stars at Morehead Planetarium. Locals call Dorton Arena the “cow palace”; its innovative design is a civil engineering landmark. Celebrate the spirit of learning at Durham’s Museum of Life and Science and Raleigh’s North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. And sports fans, there’s Durham Bulls Athletic Park and NHL action at PNC Arena, home of the Carolina Hurricanes.