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Bridge with sketchup and Gimp

I have been suffering through a cold lately which is perfect timing for the holiday season. I have also been playing a bit more with Gimp (not the Gimp) a photoshop type free program. I think I over did it but it is faster than doing a full 3d render.

Right click and open in new window for large view….if your really bored. This is a bridge I actually designed.

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Going off the rails

Okay I went off the rails a little bit in regards to the new ASCE rating system, but let me explain my point of view.

I am all for improving the environment and using the private sector as the economic engine is a great idea. What I object to is the current marketing models, let me explain.

Imagine I start a non-profit. I sell memberships and make members “certified” environmental professionals. Then I take the money from my members and lobby owners (the federal government) to adopt my criteria for projects.

Now if you want to work on a federal project you need to be a certified member of my non-profit. If you want to provide materials for the project you have to have certified materials. (Certified by me of course)

Now lets say you don’t want to join my non-profit, well then you cannot work on “certified” projects. Lets say I don’t want you in my non-profit, well I can turn you down and who will you appeal to? I’m a private entity. I just convinced owners to place a rider on the project mandating you follow my rules. Nothing illegal about that.

I’m sure I can work on LEEDs mandated projects….well no, I’m not a member. Can I do the engineering necessary, sure, but I’m not a member. LEEDs is not a governmental organization. It is a private organization, who can set criteria, that you have to follow to work on certain projects.

Will these organizations improve the environment. Sure, of course, but I object to the closed shop nature of the organization.

I’m thinking I can start a non-profit for bridge engineers. I will develop criteria and tests that engineers will have to pass to be TGB certified. Now if I can convince owners they should only hire tallbridgeguy certified bridge designers on their projects, I can set design policy.

Not certified by tallbridgeguy? Well tough, better join if you want to work…..

Now I must go and put on my tin foil hat….

What do you think am I crazy?

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Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure

I just filled out a survey for ASCEs sustainable infrastructure initiative. (you can search for the organization yourself, I don’t want to promote them)

Obviously I didn’t approve of their cloning LEEDs (look it up) marketing system. I don’t mind people making money off the environment, as long as it is responsible, but I am tired of organizations that sell memberships instead of helping the environment.

I don’t want to become a proud member of some group so I can market my environmental services. I have a masters degree in environmental engineering and I’m pretty sure I know what is right and wrong in engineering.

I struggle everyday to improve my engineering designs and products to reduce our footprint on the earth.

I just think these types of organization worry more about selling memberships than actually making changes. Can you tell they bug me…

What do you think? Will paying $300-750 make you a better engineer or will you just buy the membership for your business card?

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Terrible Bridge Concept #27

Did you ever see the bridge with all the windmills stuck on it? Mine is a complete rip off and something put together over lunch.

I think it could wash you car as your drive through the rotating paddle wheels. Of course the energy generated from the wheels will power multiple priusesess (plural prius?) Yes, it has been that kind of day.

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Creating the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge – New Zealand

Peter Mulqueen sent me an article he wrote for the journal, Structural Engineering International, outlining his personal journey in designing the Te Rewa Rewa bridge.

The paper is a great primer for any engineer, it reminds me of a backstage pass to your favorite rock band. You really get to see what is behind the curtain and how the magic is made.

Thanks for sending me the paper Peter! (pdf link at the bottom of this post)

The creative process for bridge design can be defined as being made up of three advancements. The first is transferring the designer’s thoughts onto paper by making sketches. The second is from these sketches to construction drawings. The third advancement is from the drawing board to the wonder of a completed bridge.

It is the first advancement that will be the focus of this paper.

During the first advancement, an engineer must hold multiple visions of the bridge in his mind’s eye. These are sometimes described as “a fourfold vision of the project, simultaneously considering issues of structural form, mathematical analysis, construction methods, and the relationship of the structure to the site”. These have been renamed and reordered to reflect the experience of concept development in the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge.

They are the structural form, construction method, contextual setting and analytical modelling. These are neither sequential nor simultaneous, but more a series of reappraisals of each vision until the final concept has been developed.

Creating the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge New Zealand

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Angry Engineers?

An opinion piece on by ENR magazine stirs up some passion amongst engineers. (Hat tip David)

Like most engineers I think our infrastructure is going downhill but the question is how to save it. It seems a mix of spending reductions and increased taxes is the way to go.

The comment section got a little heated.

Raising taxes will only feed the Federal Government beast. This beast is the root of most economic and social problems.

It is private industry, not government, that has prevented the adoption of the metric system. The metric has been legal in the United States since the end of the civil war, and all the rest of the world has adopted it.

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Broadway Bridge Competition

Update: The “winners” are up. Seriously?

Update: It looks like the voting has ended and the results will be posted here. Sorry if the links don’t work below, I was late to the party…It also seems strange they just removed the images of the entrants? Usually you leave them up for a while.

Update two: Some images here on a facebook page.

It looks like a competition for a bridge in Arkansas. The favorites are listed here and open for voting.

I’m not sure this is for real? The budget is $45 million for an 1100 foot long iconic bridge replacement?

More suggested bridge types here.

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Bubble Deck

So a company has patented a concrete slab system called “Bubble Deck”. It looks like a pretty good idea. My question is about the patent. I think I could build a cast-in-place county bridge with a similar system.

Essentially, it is just a waffle slab but with balls instead of rectangles. (Yes the balls might be more efficient but same idea.)

Would I get sued if I used a ball system for a “waffle” slab? Has anyone tried this system on a bridge?


Place formwork to support the balls and the wet concrete. (that sounded slightly unpure.)

Add concrete, the balls provide voids which reduces the dead load of the deck.

Update: Hey it looks like the system was invented by a Dane! Jorgen Breuning.