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Gateway Bridge in Brisbane

A fairly long (20 min) but interesting video covering the construction of the first Gateway Bridge in Brisbane. Good thing to watch on break! (1980-1986) Check out the huge of amount people on opening day, talk about live load. (Switch the video to 480 p for a better view.)

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Google Warehouse

I don’t have time to draw up my own stuff but Google warehouse has a ton of great models. I just fix it up a bit and render it.

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World Cup!

I played soccer for ever, even playing a month in Europe. Great Nike commercial! Can’t wait.

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Not much

I having a hard time finding the motivation to blog lately. With our extreme partisan politics, lack of caring about oil spills and the environment, teaching (plus 8 hours a day work), and my wife being overseas. (think single parent and walking three dogs at 5:30 in the morning)

Some of my last posts concern politics and I find myself getting more and more frustrated with the current state of affairs. I voted for Obama last time and I doubt I will again. It turns out that I am to the left of Obama on most things, who would have thought that!So I have no one to vote for, which may be kind of freeing.

I think we need a meaningful energy policy where green power is heavily favored, a new environmental act to clean up the current messes and a supreme court nominee that does not come from Yale or Harvard. What is wrong with someone from the heartland for a change? (Maybe someone tall?)

When it comes to bridges, why does everything have to look like a concrete box? (see I can rant about two things at once!) Anyway I promise I will get back onto bridges.

Check out “narrowboating”, it has two small swing bridges but i am more interested in the beer!

Coffee break Sketchup ART…..or maybe not.

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My wife left for Germany today, flying out of Chicago. One of the things I was worried about was a volcanic ash delay. Happily, she seems to be on her way and should be there on time.

I think back to when I traveled as a child and how much more fun it was back then. I remember having so much room between the seats that I could lay on the floor and sleep. Today you have to cross your fingers and hope your next door neighbor fits in their seat.

On one trip from Copenhagen to Alborg, on Scandinavian Airlines, I got to sit up front with the pilot! I was strapped into a little jumper seat and got an education on how to fly a twin prop plane, like a B-52 bomber. (I’m old, I know) The last time we flew to Europe was to adopt from Russia and the plane was like traveling in steerage in an old steamship. We were stuck in the middle of a 8 seat row for nine hours, yuck…and today you can’t even go to the bathroom in the last hour of the flight! (I even remember traveling without metal detectors!)

One of the good things about traveling is getting a new perspective. It is interesting to see how others live and hear what they think about your country. It is the one thing I would recommend for all students after they finish college.

Sorry another random post. The bridge biz is slow but I do start teaching summer school tomorrow! (yikes again)

courtesy adamjets
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Sunshine Bridge Disaster

The Sunshine bridge disaster happened on May 9th, 1980. The attached video contains some of the original audio from the Coast Guard receiving a call from the damaged ship.

From wikipedia,

The southbound span of the original bridge (built in 1969) was destroyed at 7:33 a.m. on May 9, 1980, when the freighter MV Summit Venture collided with a pier (support column) during a storm, sending over 1200 feet (366m) of the bridge plummeting into Tampa Bay. The collision caused six automobiles and a Greyhound bus to fall 150 feet (46 m), killing 35 people.

One man, Wesley MacIntire, survived the fall when his Ford pickup truck landed on the deck of the Summit Venture before falling into the bay. He sued the company that owned the ship, and settled for $175,000 in 1984. For the remaining nine years of his life until he died in 1989, MacIntire was haunted by the fact that he was the only one to survive the fall from the collapsing bridge.

The pilot of the ship, John Lerro, was cleared of wrongdoing by both a state grand jury and a Coast Guard investigation.

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Grading engineering students

If you have a class of 60 students in a 3rd year structural analysis course, how many would you expect to pass? (I seem to have a minority opinion.) I have been looking around the internet for information on grade distributions.

What I mean by that, is a description of a reasonable distribution of grades for a typical engineering class. One of the problems I find in teaching is determining final grades.

I try to be as fair as possible in assigning grades. I build distributions, look at the students tests for trends and try to find information about how grades compare to other sections. Grading tests can be difficult if partial credit is given.

For example, what happens when a student makes a small error in the first step of a moment distribution problem, say a wrong FEM, that causes the shear and moment diagrams to be wrong? The student knew how to make the diagrams and they have the right shape but the numbers are off… much credit should they get?

Should a third year class have an average of B, C, or D? I have a hard time finding help on these questions because Universities seem loathe to give guidance on these issues for instructors.

I did find the chart below on a University website and it seems reasonable to me. Do you think the distribution looks fair for engineers?