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This zone is known as the 'boundary layer'. The flow outside the boundary layer is free of shear and viscous-related forces so it is assumed to act as an ideal fluid.

The intermolecular cohesive forces in a fluid are not great enough to hold fluid together. Hence a fluid will flow under the action of the slightest stress and flow will continue as long as the stress is present. Common topics of design for hydraulic engineers include hydraulic structures such as dams , levees , water distribution networks, water collection networks, sewage collection networks, storm water management, sediment transport , and various other topics related to transportation engineering and geotechnical engineering. Equations developed from the principles of fluid dynamics and fluid mechanics are widely utilized by other engineering disciplines such as mechanical, aeronautical and even traffic engineers.

Related branches include hydrology and rheology while related applications include hydraulic modeling, flood mapping, catchment flood management plans, shoreline management plans, estuarine strategies, coastal protection, and flood alleviation. Earliest uses of hydraulic engineering were to irrigate crops and dates back to the Middle East and Africa.

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Controlling the movement and supply of water for growing food has been used for many thousands of years. One of the earliest hydraulic machines, the water clock was used in the early 2nd millennium BC. In ancient China , hydraulic engineering was highly developed, and engineers constructed massive canals with levees and dams to channel the flow of water for irrigation, as well as locks to allow ships to pass through. Sunshu Ao is considered the first Chinese hydraulic engineer.

In the Archaic epoch of the Philippines , hydraulic engineering also developed specially in the Island of Luzon , the Ifugaos of the mountainous region of the Cordilleras built irrigations, dams and hydraulic works and the famous Banaue Rice Terraces as a way for assisting in growing crops around BC.

They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces. It is said that if the steps were put end to end, it would encircle half the globe. Eupalinos of Megara , was an ancient Greek engineer who built the Tunnel of Eupalinos on Samos in the 6th century BC, an important feat of both civil and hydraulic engineering. The civil engineering aspect of this tunnel was the fact that it was dug from both ends which required the diggers to maintain an accurate path so that the two tunnels met and that the entire effort maintained a sufficient slope to allow the water to flow.

Hydraulic engineering was highly developed in Europe under the aegis of the Roman Empire where it was especially applied to the construction and maintenance of aqueducts to supply water to and remove sewage from their cities. In the 15th century, the Somali Ajuran Empire was the only hydraulic empire in Africa.


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As a hydraulic empire, the Ajuran State monopolized the water resources of the Jubba and Shebelle Rivers. Through hydraulic engineering, it also constructed many of the limestone wells and cisterns of the state that are still operative and in use today. The rulers developed new systems for agriculture and taxation , which continued to be used in parts of the Horn of Africa as late as the 19th century. Further advances in hydraulic engineering occurred in the Muslim world between the 8th to 16th centuries, during what is known as the Islamic Golden Age.

Of particular importance was the ' water management technological complex ' which was central to the Islamic Green Revolution and, [12] by extension, a precondition for the emergence of modern technology. However, it was in the medieval Islamic lands where the technological complex was assembled and standardized, and subsequently diffused to the rest of the Old World. In many respects, the fundamentals of hydraulic engineering haven't changed since ancient times.

Liquids are still moved for the most part by gravity through systems of canals and aqueducts, though the supply reservoirs may now be filled using pumps. The need for water has steadily increased from ancient times and the role of the hydraulic engineer is a critical one in supplying it.

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For example, without the efforts of people like William Mulholland the Los Angeles area would not have been able to grow as it has because it simply doesn't have enough local water to support its population. The same is true for many of our world's largest cities.

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Hydraulic Engineering III (ebook)

In much the same way, the central valley of California could not have become such an important agricultural region without effective water management and distribution for irrigation. In a somewhat parallel way to what happened in California, the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority TVA brought work and prosperity to the South by building dams to generate cheap electricity and control flooding in the region, making rivers navigable and generally modernizing life in the region.

Leonardo da Vinci — performed experiments, investigated and speculated on waves and jets, eddies and streamlining. Isaac Newton — by formulating the laws of motion and his law of viscosity, in addition to developing the calculus, paved the way for many great developments in fluid mechanics. Using Newton's laws of motion, numerous 18th-century mathematicians solved many frictionless zero-viscosity flow problems.

However, most flows are dominated by viscous effects, so engineers of the 17th and 18th centuries found the inviscid flow solutions unsuitable, and by experimentation they developed empirical equations, thus establishing the science of hydraulics. Late in the 19th century, the importance of dimensionless numbers and their relationship to turbulence was recognized, and dimensional analysis was born.


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  • In Ludwig Prandtl published a key paper, proposing that the flow fields of low-viscosity fluids be divided into two zones, namely a thin, viscosity-dominated boundary layer near solid surfaces, and an effectively inviscid outer zone away from the boundaries. This concept explained many former paradoxes and enabled subsequent engineers to analyze far more complex flows.

    However, we still have no complete theory for the nature of turbulence, and so modern fluid mechanics continues to be combination of experimental results and theory. The modern hydraulic engineer uses the same kinds of computer-aided design CAD tools as many of the other engineering disciplines while also making use of technologies like computational fluid dynamics to perform the calculations to accurately predict flow characteristics, GPS mapping to assist in locating the best paths for installing a system and laser-based surveying tools to aid in the actual construction of a system.

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    MSc in Civil Engineering: Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management tracks

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