Throughout history, the impossible continues to be done to accommodate to the needs of the human race. There will always be a need to solve problems and make the world a better place through engineering and computer science. In my lifetime, there have been a great amount of achievements from engineers such as Elon Musk, Jonathan Rossiter, and Jennifer Doudna who have paved the way for ambitious thinking in building the future. Sustainable energy, biodegradable pollution-eating robots, and DNA editing to fight viral infections were once all thought to be impossible. The success of these ambitious engineers prove that technology improves only when you take the initiative to make it better.
Like many engineers, Jonathan Rossiter saw a problem in our society and worked to find a solution for it. Ocean pollution is a major complication that Rossiter responded to by creating an efficient biodegradable, animal inspired, robot that correspondingly treats pollution while also turning impurities into energy for the robot to run on. The robot consists of two mouths using microbial fuel cells with oxygen and a living microbe soup which treats the pollution by eating the petroleum spirits and crude oil. This innovative design would only be dreamed about half a century ago, but today became a reality because of engineering.
Gene editing once seemed like an insurmountable task but with the advancements in biotechnology, genetic engineers were able to apply how bacteria fights viral infections, with their adaptive immune system, to genetic engineering and how humans can use this to edit DNA and fight off genetic diseases. Jennifer Doudna and her team found that the bacteria use a responsive protein called CAS 9 which kills the viruses DNA. Gene editing was previously a theory of science fiction. Many said the rearrangement of a substance as small and intricate as DNA would be impossible.
Perhaps the most ambitious and captivating advancements in modern engineering are the ideas of Elon Musk. Within the many projects going on at Tesla and SpaceX, they have successfully developed and re-landed a rocket onto a base. After many tedious years of research and critics telling Musk he’s wasting his money, they achieved the impossible and have continued to do so with advancements in sustainable energy cars. When asked in a TED interview, “Why the desire to inhabit Mars?”, Musk replied, “There have to be reasons that you want to live. What inspires you? If we’re not out there; if the future does not include being among the stars, I find that very depressing.” SpaceX has created a rocket the height of a 40 story skyscraper with four times the thrust of the biggest rocket humanity has ever created.
What can classifies itself as impossible when the impossible has been achieved multiple times over? I believe that through engineering, there is no such thing as impossible. There is only your perception of the limits you put on yourself and your abilities. When you surpass this idea that you can’t achieve your dreams because of your gender, age, background, family, etc; the world opens up to you. What was impossible to you before, you now successfully achieve and prove the rest wrong. As Walt Disney once said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” These engineers and computer scientists saw past the boundaries and inspire others to believe in and work toward a better future.