A few years back I wanted to publish a book of structural engineering problems to sell to students. So I bought a pack of 10 Internationa Standard Book Numbers (isbn) for $250 dollars and started a publishing company. The first book had a limited run of 50 copies which I sold through the local university bookstore.
I made all the books myself, utilizing a grill hot plate to make the glue melt on the cover and spine. (Somewhat like this but I used hot glue sticks) The books were a little bigger than paperbacks but had the same type of binding. I used one of my isbn numbers and volia, instant vanity publisher.
My second book was made by Blurb. Blurb has software that allows you to place images and text into predefined templates for publishing through their online service. Since I already had isbn barcodes, it was a simple matter of adding one and vanity book two was born. The great thing about my second book was that it was deemed worthy enough to make it into the Keosauqua library and my local university library collection.
The downside of using Blurb was the final version of the book resides on their system and I can only buy books through them unless I take the time to reformat the book. The next thing I am going to try is a service called Magcloud for publishing magazines.
Two things, I just started teaching the summer session of concrete design and I also have been working on concept statements for bridge repairs utilizing new stimulus funding. What do these things have in common? Well, in teaching, I try to interject real life situations into the class and one of them is how engineers will get paid for their work.
Mr. Wise suggests that fees should be based on engineering talent and not on an some nebulous percentage of the project. He argues that agencies should be “commissioning designers in a way that knowingly selects them for their talent not for their convenience.”
I have the same dream but I can see how this is a problem. How do you then judge engineers on talent? As a firm you need jobs to develop your talent before you could “show” your talent. I agree the fee structure does not always select the best engineers and may discourage innovation.
Mr. Wise’s suggestion of a talent-based system would of course benefit his firm because of their cutting edge approach. But would they be the best value for a repair project? What is the best value?
I would love to work under a talent-based system (I have an ego) because it would mean the higher I reached as an engineer the more work I would get.
I don’t want to make this the Keosauqua 24 hour news channel but I would like to wrap it up with some of the success and failures. (Failure is a strong word, more like lost opportunities)
1) Success #1 – Public participation
I think the biggest success of the project was the strong public participation in the design. We had a number of public meetings, with great give and take discussions, along with a small bridge group that helped steer the details of the project. The bridge group would then spread the word throughout the community about what was happening with the bridge.
We also had a grand opening (inside because it was so cold) for the new bridge, with the Mayor, contractor, DOT staff and local citizens.
1) Failure – Building on success
The biggest “failure”, in my view, was not utilizing all the expertise gained from this design on another project or using it as a springboard for new policies throughout our state. While this project was small in comparison to other bridges throughout the country it was really a new way of doing things. Allowing the designer to interact and work with the customer proved invaluable to the final design. Structural Engineers should be out there instead of just staying in the office and doing the calculations……
I made the roster to give a talk on my last steel bridge design at the World Steel Bridge Symposium (WSBS), in November. I am also teaching concrete design this summer to third year civil and construction engineers.
My question is what makes a great lecture? I would really like to encourage, motivate and inform both groups but I am not sure I can. Is it possible to give a great talk to engineers? If I stress aesthetics, those engineers who favor economics will complain. If I focus too much on in-depth details I will put half the group to sleep and the other half will say I did it wrong.
I can’t really remember the last time I reallly enjoyed watching a lecture. What to do, what to do. Suggestions anyone?
Was any effort made to reuse the existing pier positions by extending them sideways? It isn’t quite clear from the images so far.
The existing piers were not in the same locations as the new bridge piers. (The old piers were reused as revetment for the new bridge abutment slope protection and select stones were cut for the touch stones on top of the new piers. The touch stones allowed visitors to touch the “past” bridge. )
Any concern that the curved beam soffits makes it look like the bridge is a series of arches (especially in foreshortened perspective views), when structurally this is misleading?
Not until you mentioned it. (Ha!) It is a fair point, it depends on where you are located in relation to the bridge. In this case the bridge has two prominent viewpoints.
One from the sides of the north abutment where people can play in parks and further downstream from the historic Manning Hotel.
This view is looking north on the upstream side. The girders look more like arches than haunched girders. (The touch stone are on top of the pier. Stones cut from the old truss bridge piers)
I have been busy with grading finals for my concrete design class and of course, Mother’s Day. Bridge Design Space (by David Tsay) has a great storehouse full of interesting bridge images. Like this one.
I received some great questions about the last post that I think I should expand on, since I skimped on the reasons for the new bridge. (thanks for the questions by the way) I would have answered in a comment post but I wanted to add some images and frankly, I don’t know how to do that yet.
Given the width of footway provided on the new bridge, could the existing bridge have been retained as a footbridge?
Before replacing the truss bridge we evaluated whether or not it was possible to keep the old bridge in place, with one of the popular options being the use of the old bridge as a pedestrian bridge with a new vehicle bridge beside it. The problem essentially boiled down to money.
In 1937 the truss bridge was built on widened piers from the original 1873 bridge piers. Since we did not have any plans from that bridge it was difficult to determine the life left in the old limestone block piers and methods required to strengthen the piers would most likely rob them of their aesthetic appeal.
Well I want to try this bridge criticism experiment so why not start with my own design, the Keosauqua Bridge. About four years ago, I was asked to design a bridge to replace a four span truss bridge, built in 1937. The truss was on the list of historic structures and was very popular with the local community.
But the bridge had a number of problems, including a functionally obsolete width and structural deficiencies.
Okay I am going to start my criticism of other people designs, I have my concept hat on and I am ready to go. Lets start with the obvious, what bridge should I take on first?
Now that’s a problem. How do you judge a design from a small “artist rendering”? Often that is all you get in a newspaper or blog. A concept that may not represent the final project. For example how do you judge the worth of the concept for the new I-5 bridge over the Columbia river in Portland, Oregon. (My brother lives there so I do have a right to review through kinship)
How can I judge how 12 lanes of traffic, a light rail system, pedestrians and bikes will look on this bridge from this one view? How many people driving across the bridge get this view? How does the cross-section look? (Lane widths and barrier rails are typically engineering concerns but it affects the look of the final product.)
So problem number 1 in reviewing concepts. You need multiple images from real life orientations. I will start trying to find another one to “critique”.
Here are a selection of comments I found on the newspaper website concerning this design.
One of the things that I have never been taught as an engineer is how to critique a structure. Architects do it all the time as part of their core training. Take this review of a covered bridge concept reviewed in the Guardian. Finding an engineer who would say this publicly would be very difficult. Engineers are not trained to put forth and take criticism.
I wanted to take a poke at deconstructing a bridge concept. One of the problems is finding enough information and images to accurately gauge the designer’s intent. I also do not want to belittle, demean or attack a design but new concepts should be open to evaluation and discussion. As a designer, you should welcome the chance to explain your bridge.
I also received some good advice on how to start the conversation, “always be straightforward, constructive, and diplomatic!”
So, lets start slowly and please join in if you can. I would like it if other bridge engineers would like to pick a bridge and discuss our viewpoints across various blogs.
A while back I was asked to review a working version of a new website dedicated to Accelerated Bridge Construction details. The FHWA was putting the site together so that designers could submit details that they used on ABC projects and allow other designers the opportunity to see and download the concepts.
You had to become a member and log in to submit details. My initial feedback suggested that the site was clumsy (very diplomatic, I know) and was not an easy database to navigate. A very 1990′s kind of website. (it is government after all)
I also touched on the concept of credit for details. Engineers readily share details and it is often difficult to ascertain who came up with the original concept. But, I suggested that engineers would be better served if work was attributed to a specific engineer (or engineers) and any further work based on the concept, of that engineer, would be cited similar to how professors cite someone else’s work. Meaning, engineers should get credit for their work.
The American Institute of Architects puts it this way:
I thought it would be difficult to get details from engineers if they didn’t receive some kind of recognition for their details. I also felt that by giving credit it would spark a little competition among designers seeking to improve the concepts in the database.
The website has not gone live as far as I can tell. I believe they are waiting for the new FHWA report on ABC details to be finished and then roll that report into the website. I wonder if the site will work?
The Washington State DOT put together a video showing how an earthquake would affect their floating bridge. The video is interesting, both informative and scary. The scary part will of course help to get this bridge replaced or strengthened. WSDOT also does a great job of putting together a page of excellent graphics explaining bridge design choices on the SR 520 floating bridge projects.
I always wanted my own rules of judging a great bridge design. Since I will probably never reach the design heights of Calatrava, I doubt anyone will ask me what constitutes a good design. So, I will just have to forge ahead and give them anyway.
Nielsen Rule #1
1) Have a reason.
My number one rule is to have a reason. Meaning, sure you need a bridge but beside the obvious, why? Is it to bring more tourists to your city? Are you looking to jumpstart your economy or do you need a landmark to make your town.
Does the bridge design tell a story? The difference between a pretty picture and great Art is the story. Ask any architect about a notable structure and he/she will tell you a story about the design, the reason behind the choices. If your an engineer, push the boundaries of your materials or make sure you advance the Art of engineering. A signature bridge requires a step forward, in Art or engineering.
Engineers always get bogged down in costs or the difficulties of designing an architect’s latest passion but the whole point is to move the world forward. That is what all great bridges of the past did and if you want to join the club, that is what you have to do. Have a reason.