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How much do you think you know?

Thanks to David for this link. (I am doing this on my iPhone, so the link may be odd.)

It has been scientifically proven that the less you know, the more you think you know.

This is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. The basic idea behind it has been a well-established rule for centuries. Charles Darwin, for instance, has stated “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”. It has been empirically proven in 1999, by psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger in their report “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments”.

Link here

Wiki page here

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Visualization for Engineers


As some of you know I am teaching Google Sketchup to engineers at the local university.

One comment I received last semester was that sketchup was a waste of time since no engineering design firm uses it. (I kinda doubt that statement)

If you visited this blog before, you can see I use a lot of sketchup on this site. I also use sketchup a great deal in my job. For example, I was just asked about some beam seat elevations on a bridge I designed. I checked them in excel and then did a quick 3D check in sketchup. (right, yea) and then I used sketchup to check the volume of a footing (plan slightly off, boo)

So to me it is useful to have quick sketchup skills. Do you see sketchup or 3Dmax making inroads into your workplace?

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Are you a 99% Bridge Designer?


Are you a 99 percenter?

I would assume most engineers are in the 99% economic category but what I am talking about is being in the 99% of bridge designers. Meaning, for the most part, we design bread and butter bridges. We are not the ones designing the cable stayed, suspension, glass, arched, one of a kind bridges, those designs fall to the 1% crowd. Our designs would fall in the “practical” category.

This is not a bad thing, unlike the income inequality thing (liberal bias showing), but it is interesting that we have heroes like other professions. Would Calatrava be our Gehry? Would Christian Menn be our Beckham? (Maybe I should show up at work covered in white paint to show my support for Calatrava!)

What do you think, does looking up at the pinnacle projects and designers inspire you or do they make you feel a little inadequate? (I have to say I sometimes look at the cool projects with a wistful smile.)

On a side note.

Hey HP, Mark, David……how about combining forces on a “super” bridge blog? You can add posts anytime you would like on any subject? I think we could rule the bridge blog world…….just a thought.

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So, what to do with this blog. I am of the opinion it may have run it’s course.

Some random thoughts.

1) say “so long and thanks for all the fish”.
2) close it down
3) post once/twice a week.
4) find more help.

I was thinking for #4, I could try to find contributors, to help post. Maybe some students, engineers, etc?

What do you think?

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Bridge Potpourri

Great bridge from David. (thanks!)

A lightweight aluminium footbridge 53 metres long is placed by helicopter (spectacular scenery):

Note in the last photo entitled “bridge in place”, just after placing and before installing the deck, the bottom chord consists only of 4 cables to keep the weight down. The gorge crossed by the footbridge is “up to 600 metres deep” although the waterfall near the bridge has a free fall of “only” 140 metres. A bungee jumping point is provided.

More pictures here.


I received an email from Infrastructure USA. I don’t know much about them but I believe they are an advocacy group for infrastructure. Can anybody tell me more about them?

Here is a bridge article on their site.

I received an email from Eric, who is planning a trip to China. Some info and great pictures here and here.

I posted an online Photo Album of the 3 week trip that you can look at below.  I am now planning another China bridge trip to visit nearly all the crossings of the Yangtze River plus several more in the Shanghai region.  Like the 2011 high bridge adventure, the 2012 trip would be 3 weeks through much of western China.

This is arguably the most ambitious bridge trip ever undertaken with regard to visiting long span bridges.  We will attempt to visit some 80 spans in 22 days but the good part is there will be at least 1,500 kilometers less driving which will allow us to spend more time visiting more bridges each day and less time trying to get from one bridge to the next one as we had to do on the 2011 trip.  Our only real enemy is the weather.

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Gumdrop bridge


I have reengineered my marshmallow bridge, thanks to some good comments from across the pond. ( thanks David and HP!)

I have stiffened the connection with gumdrops and added some better bracing.

I have also started developing a river scene that I will layout for the kids. They can build bridges across the river and gumdrop towers along the banks.

Hopefully this new bridge will meet the US Gumdrop bridge standards!

Thanks David and HP!

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Marshmallow bridge


I have been suffering from the winter blues and a lack of blogging motivation. I was asked to help some elementary school kids learn about engineering. So marshmallow bridges, loaded with pennies.