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The Engineer’s Travel Bucket List

March 3, 2022
Make time to check out these must-see engineering-related destinations during your vacation travels. Hey, it can't be all beaches and camping, right?

Now that the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be receding, our editors were having some fun talking about some fantastic travel destinations that engineers would love. From the search for extraterrestrial intelligence to the history of the information age, and from holograms and robotics to engineering feats saving entire cities, we present the Engineer’s Travel Bucket List for 2022.

Deutches Museum

The Deutches is not only the largest museum in Munich; it's the world's largest museum of science and technology. Its website says you can get a rough idea of its 28,000 exhibited objects in one day but it's better to give it three. Founded in 1903 as an initiative of Oskar Von Miller, the main museum is on Museum Island in the Isar River. There are also satellite facilities in Bonn and Nuremburg and an airfield near Munich. There's a long list of permanent exhibits that includes aerospace, Amateur radio, computers, microelectronics, telecommunications, and technical toys.

The Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments

Engineers deal with things that can be measured: pressure, speed, length, mass, and so on. Here you’ll find more than 200 years’ worth of scientific instruments that were critical for measuring or discovering new (as well as age-old) characteristics and phenomenon. The precision mechanical instruments are a testament to human ingenuity and engineering. The Freedom Trail might be packed, and the Aquarium, U.S.S. Constitution, and other tourist sites backed up with lines of tourists, but this free, out-of-the-way museum is never crowded.

The MIT Museum

MIT isn’t just a great place for engineers to attend school; it’s also got a series of collections that will make any engineer’s trip to Boston more complete. And, if you visit in the fall, which is a terrific time to do Boston, be sure to hit the MIT Museum, which is closed at the moment but scheduled to reopen in a new location in the fall of 2022. From a general science and technology collection to a collection of 2,000 holograms, the MIT Museum has something for everyone. Be sure to check out the MIT Aeronautical and Aerospace Collection as well as their Robotics Collection, featuring archives from nearly 60 years of research into artificial intelligence.

The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

This museum in Albuquerque, right outside Sandia National Lab (once a hotbed of nuclear weapons development) showcases a variety of historic items related to the birth of the atomic age, as well as weapons and various weapon-delivery platforms (planes, rockets, and even an incredibly large cannon known as Atomic Annie) designed to use nuclear weapons.

Amazon Fulfillment Center

Think what you will about online shopping, but Amazon has made miraculous strides toward automation and robotics in logistics. The best part? You can sign up for a tour of one of the company’s fulfillment centers. The locations are scattered across seven states, and within the facility you’ll see the cutting edge of automation and robotics in logistics before all the other distribution networks go the same route.

NASA Johnson Space Center 

Named for former President Lyndon Johnson, this Houston-based space center was probably most made famous by the phrase, “Houston, we have a problem,” The complex is a hotbed for mechanical engineers and space enthusiasts alike, featuring education programs for young and old, a museum of space artifacts, and a tour of the NASA Johnson Space Center, where you’ll see some truly out-of-this-world exhibits.

Computer History Museum

One of the first museums dedicated to preserving for the future the history of the Information Age, the Computer History Museum has a lot to offer the engineer. From a Demo Lab of IBM technology to exhibitions exploring the birth of computer hacking, the museum is an in-depth exploration of modern history. Be sure to check out the new History of Autonomous Vehicles exhibit while you’re there!

National Air and Space Museum

If you're an aerospace geek, or just like stuff that flies, you cannot beat this place with a stick. Want to see iconic flying machines and everything that goes with it? They have it. Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis? Check. John Glenn's Friendship 7? Check. Apollo 11 command module? Check. The U.S.S. Enterprise (the scale model you saw on TV in the 60s)? Check. Almost all space and aircraft on display are originals or the original backup craft.

Three Gorges Dam

No Engineering Travel Bucket List would be complete without the world’s largest hydroelectric dam, the Three Gorges Dam in China. Visitors can visit a museum near the site with exhibitions and working models demonstrating how the dam works and the history of its construction. English-speaking guides are available and an attractive option for travelers may be a Yangtze River Cruise, which will stop right next to the massive wonder.

The Large Hadron Collider 

You can visit CERN! On the tour you will learn the history of the laboratory and get details of the latest scientific discoveries that are being made deep underground. Visitors get to experience the operations center for experiments, take audio-visual tours, and learn about the amazing science behind one of humanity’s greatest contemporary endeavors.

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