Teardown two articles of technology and demonstrate the impressive advancements that have been made in design, materials, efficiency, etc. After explaining some of the research and development work that went towards these advancements, offer a glimpse of where the technology is going and what the current limitations are.

[This is an interesting organizing conceit; I'm trying to decide if we need to do "themes" like this where we offer more organiziation of the ideas. I really like the old and new. I think a great way to truely understand engineering is to see exacty the choices made by an engineer; the counterfactuals if you will.]

You are making me think of James Burke's Connections' series and The Day The Universe Changed. Here are some general ideas that come to mind:
  • The way humans tinker with things as a group, often working at nearly the same speed and for different reasons (Darwin and Wallace come to mind)
    • Flashes of world-changing insight are rare and usually happen when all the elements have been laying around for a bit
  • How the rules of design and development have largely remained the same
  • Some of the basic tools we just can't improve upon
  • Some of the brilliant engineering tools and methods we've lost because of new materials, methods or tools