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University of Windsor
October 4 , 2019
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I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must
apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do. these are the wise words from an intelligent
man called Leonardo da Vinci (n.d.). he was a painter, engineer, mathematician a nd much
more. From his fruitful mind sprang ideas of war instruments, designs of flying machines, and
many theories and concepts that were way ahead of their time. Most known for his paintings
like the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper, many do not realize the great inventions that were
created by his ingenious engineering mind that was too advanced for his time. He was a model
engineer that focused on applying his ideas to solve real – world problems and from the quote,
individuals can interpret his words as dev otion and encouragement for everyone to apply their
knowledge to help the greater society. Da Vinci's work can be said to have greatly influenced
the modern world and contemporary engineering as his work and studies of flight, anatomy ,
and war have shaped the way humans progressed in these fields. With his ideas that were
made so early on and his expert artistic skills that created the ingenious sketches of different
objects, they have inspired and continue to inspire many engineers to this day.
M ost peopl e would probably know da Vinci as a painter as his artistic skill was excellent
that it makes them forget the brilliant engineering mind he had. He was skilled enough in
painting that his master no longer allowed him to contribute to his work as he was out shining
him. After becoming a successful painter, he decided to move to Milan and become a Military
Engineer, this allowed him to delve into the engineering part of his mind and further explore
the unimaginable. He used his great artistic skill to create s ketches of different machines and
ideas that were so clearly drawn that it can be easily replicated into real life. These records
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were clear enough that blueprints could be made to make working models allowing people to
continue to celebrate his artistry a nd knowledge to this day. To help him create the domed
churches he designed, he sketched arches that calculated the breaking strength of them which
proved he knew about the concept of line of thrust before anyone had even thought of it.
When he had to desi gn a fortress and a canal system, he proved how he had a thorough
understanding of strength of materials and careful scientific observation. This understanding of
strength of materials helped improve engineering practices. (engineering.com, 2006) He
applie d his knowledge of drawing and perspective skills into the sciences helping improve what
it meant to be an engineer. These sketches and drawings would continue to influence the
different generations of designers and engineers.
The way that da Vinci chang ed the game of war is by realizing that it was much more
about the psychological effects of it rather than actual combat. Warfare can be handled better
if the opposition is too scared that they surrender or flea so no fighting can occur. With this in
mind, he traveled to the military city of Milan where he can exercise his ideas. In his time,
shooting a cannon was very time consuming as reloading it took a very long time and there was
no way around it. But da Vinci thought of the 33 barrelled organ which ha d 3 rows made of 11
guns and each row would be able to shoot simultaneously. While one row cooled and the other
reloaded, another row would be fired. The modern machine gun took inspiration from it,
making this idea very useful to modern warfare (Davinci i nventions, 2008). he also made
designs of a tank that can be used to go through enemy ranks untouched, the outer portion of
the tank was slanted and was inspired from a turtle's shell as Da Vinci always looked to nature
as his source of inspiration. Rather than being built as a weapon, Da Vinci planned to design it in
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a way to intimidate an enemy. This tank would enable fear in the defenders that might cause
them to surrender or flee causing less violence. Although he was not the only one with the idea
of c reating such a machine, his expertise and knowledge brought new and useful
improvements. One of which is the way it is shaped. He made the armor plate sloped which
was more effective at deflecting bullets. This seemingly simple adjustment and difference ma de
it so any projectile aimed for the tank would have to go through more material without the use
of more armor. More armor would make it more expensive and heavier, so this idea made the
tank more useful and efficient. I t made his design superior to the t anks used in World War 1,
proving him to be of great intellect and engineering intuition. During his time most people used
elephants as tanks that could hold two or three people but since one of Da Vincis main goals as
an engineer was to make the world a better place for animals too, it is theorized that this was
the reason why he wanted to make the tank in the first place ( Lairweb, n.d. ) . H e also created a
quick loaded catapult to combat the slow loading and heavy cannons. These catapults had a
short firin g range, but it wasn't as much of a problem in his day as using guns was very difficult.
This device could be loaded quickly and can be left loaded in case of a surprise attack. They also
can be safely mounted on the walls and did n o t need gunpowder to ope rate reducing the need
to purchase these resources all the time. Wars are expensive and the government is constantly
looking for ways to make it cheaper making da Vinci's designs optimal. Another version of the
33 barrelled organ that did not require gunpo wder was by planning to arrange the basic
catapults in rows that would be launched simultaneously. His designs addressed the challenges
with long reloading times by creating the 33 barrelled organ, the problems of using animals as
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tanks by designing an act ual tank, and the different obstacles that arise with cannon fire by
creating a high – speed catapult making him a model engineer.
Not only did he address and make models to combat the different challenges within the
military, he did the same for flying. W ith all the different things he studied, it seems that he
held the most interest in the investigation of the nature of air and bird flight. His early designs
were mostly versions of ornithopters because he usually used nature as an inspiration, so it was
a natural starting point. After he realized that it would be impossible for humans to generate
enough power and endurance to generate lift propulsion, he began researching more into the
concept of bird flight. He discussed an idea that would be further deve loped as the concept of
stall, which is the action of ascending against the wind. He also debated the relationship
between the center of lifting pressure and the center of gravity and grasped the concept of air
as a fluid, and the way birds balance themsel ves in the air. These ideas would be the foundation
of aerodynamics and would eventually lead to the Wright brother's design. He was shown to be
very ahead of his time because he hinted at a force that would later be defined as gravity (Peter
Jakab, 2013) these budding ideas helped create the modern airplane and he did this by thinking
about the different challenges that came with flying and worked hard to combat them.
Not only was he fascinated by flight, but also in human anatomy. He studied human
anatomy and his expertly beautiful artistic skill brought life to all his drawings. The famous
anatomical drawings are one of the most important achievements of science during the
Renaissance. This is because he combined different ways of representing the informa tion he
got from dissecting humans by using hidden lines, section views, and transparent layer s , and
also creating a hatching system. Da Vinci always emphasized that his drawings were superior to
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written words because of the way it could make the data imme diately and accurately visible.
These anatomical studies have created the core principles of scientific illustration today. D a
Vinci also created the Vitruvian man which depicted the ideal proportions of the human
figure and imposed the different values of geometry into his depiction of the human body. He
was also the first to produce an accurate illustration of the spine and the earliest known
description of the scarring of the liver called cirrhosis. During his time also, it was well known
and believed that the heart had only 2 chambers, but in his notes, it is illustrated that it had
four by discovering the atria. What sets him apart from his many contemporaries is his blend of
seemingly different talents. He unified artistry with skilled dissection mak ing him very unique.
A lthough his research and investigations were not published, it is safe to say that he was well
ahead of everyone else around him at that time and showed great skill and contribution to the
way humans see anatomy today.
What it means to be an engineer can differ greatly in each person's mind, according to
Engineering.com (2006) it is that As engineers, we originate, plan, design, orchestrate, and
construct. The role that we play in this society is a vital one. Our only standard is to strive to be
the best in all that we do. Whereas in the Engineering Your Future textbook( Oaks & Leon, Ed 9,
pg. 2) it defines it as a way to help mankind in economical ways by developing sound
judgments. in engineering, the most agreed upon goal is the idea of helping and improving the
world, this is the idea of which I agree with. Engineers have to use their diverse knowledge,
perspective and expertise to create things that can help improve society. To Leonardo da Vici,
his goal was striving to make bet ter conditions for humans as well as animals. He did this by
creating tanks to limit the use of animals on the battlefield, improved the art of war by using
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fear and intimidation instead of actual violence , and thought up some fundamental ideas about
fligh t. All of these examples illustrate how he strived to meet his engineering goal: to improve
both human and animal life. This also coincides with the definitions expressed before proving
that the famous Renaissance Man surely influenced and contributed gr eatly to contemporary
engineering. With his sketches and machines being the inspiration of many devices used today,
it is obvious to note just how much his ideas have influenced modern society and helped
improve it , making him an inspiration and a brillian t engineer. With all his brilliant ideas and
designs that were only discovered a while back, it is hard to say that history has not forgotten
other brilliant minds that might have not published their work.
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