5 Must-See Engineering Documentaries

For engineers and for those who wish to learn more about engineering.

Are you looking to expand your knowledge of current engineering projects? Projects that occurred thousands of years ago? Or maybe projects that are seeking to better the environment? These engineering documentaries reveal the secrets that lie beneath expansive buildings and bridges, the mysterious Egyptian pyramids, and the up-and-coming revolution of “green” buildings.

Extreme Engineering: This documentary series, produced by the Discovery Channel, explores two sides of engineering: the practical and the (seemingly) fantastical. The former delves into major construction and engineering projects that have already happened, such as the development of the new Hong Kong airport. The latter gives viewers a look into the future in order to pose the key question: “What might the future of engineering look like?” Both practical and futuristic views examine potential disaster scenarios that did or might erupt during the design and construction process.

Impossible Engineering: Another documentary series, Impossible Engineering gives viewers a look at the foundations of mega-projects throughout the world. This show, produced by Twofour Broadcast and Yesterday, goes beyond an explanation of how a structure works by giving credit to the pioneers who discovered technological advancements that would make future marvels a possibility.

To Engineer is Human: This five-part documentary, produced by Horizon, exposes the unavoidable human reality of engineering—failure. Amid immaculate, jaw-dropping structures that lead many to the belief that engineers are infallible, this documentary aims to prove that, as is the case in most fields, “to err is human."

Egypt: Engineering an Empire: Released in 2006 by KPI Productions, this hour-and-a-half long documentary presents viewers with the marvel of ancient engineering, pyramids. The film illuminates the ways in which pharaohs commanded their construction and architects brought these commands to fruition.

e2: This PBS documentary series, backed by the star-power of celebrity narrators Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, is ideal for environmental engineers who wish to expand their knowledge of “green issues” and the sustainable materials used in architecture and roadways that can mitigate them. The show discusses international projects with one common goal: to reduce infrastructure’s contributions to climate change.