Monthly Archives: May 2012

Engineer tied to collapse of Dallas Cowboys facility paying $12,000 to settle with state board

I don’t think this is over…

DALLAS — The engineer who signed off on plans for the tent-like Dallas Cowboys practice facility that collapsed and seriously injured two team employees three years ago is paying a $12,000 fine to settle faulty design charges from the Texas Board of Professional Engineers.

In the consent order in which he agreed to the fine, Tabak neither admitted nor denied allegations that numerous elements in the plans for the building didn’t comply with engineering standards. The allegations were developed for the board by W. Gene Corley of Skokie, Ill., a structural engineer who led investigations into the World Trade Center attack and the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.

“It appears that (Tabak) signed and sealed design plans for the facility that were not prepared in a careful and diligent manner,” the order states.

Tabak could have contested the fine in a hearing in front of an administrative law judge but chose not to.

Postgraduate: Engineering superheroes

Engineers need to be experts in their field to be effective contributors. Here Samantha Joseph looks at the examples of how environmental engineering — crucial in this day and age — requires engineers that are forward looking, well-educated and passionate. After all, our lives will depend on it.

The role of an environmental engineer is an interesting one in Malaysia right now. In a role that is responsible for maintaining the safety of society’s water, air and land resources, these engineers now find the green spotlight shining upon them, becoming increasingly brighter ever since the advent of the term ‘global warming’.

While the idea that environmental engineers are the type of superhero who use their skills and intellect to avert natural disasters and prevent the spread of malaria with a wave of their magical science-hands is one that most of us fondly cling to, the truth is a little bit more down to earth.

Golden Gate Pavilion

Cool.

As its 75th birthday fast approaches, the Golden Gate Bridge is getting a little birthday present. Even though about 40 million vehicles cross it each year and visitors come in droves daily to admire and photograph it, the spectacular span has never had a visitor center. That is, until this month.
“The bridge experience up to this point has just really been self-guided and a photo opportunity,” said David Shaw, vice president of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. “Now there’s this bridge pavilion, which is a really nice welcome center. You enter the building and are greeted by a National Park Service ranger who can answer your questions and help you orient your visit. There are a number of interpretive panels that tell the bridge story and some actual artifacts.”

Visitors will also find a new café and a gift shop where good-quality merchandise has replaced the former kitsch.

Baton Bridge Concept

So it has been an odd week and it is only Tuesday! Yesterday I was on the losing side of a debate on the “worth” of a structural design engineer.

I felt that a design engineer is a valuable resource that deserves respect (and money) while the other side essentially saw designers as commodities that should be managed and kept at the lowest possible cost. The engineers who sign the plans should be leading the projects but I see them becoming more like factory workers. Like I said, bad day.

Oh well, I had another goofy idea for a bridge, the Baton bridge. The bridge is a curved cantilevered structure that is balanced with a weight.

The more weight you put on the bridge causes the baton to rotate down, increasing the counter balancing force of the baton weight. Obviously you would need significant weight sensors in the bridge deck plus a computer system to adjust the angle of the baton.

Most importantly, you would require a great deal of liability insurance.

Click on the image to see the slide show.

20120515-071746.jpg

20120515-071804.jpg

20120515-071814.jpg

20120515-071827.jpg

20120515-071820.jpg

Pretentious?

I was looking for a clever way to sign my paintings, which I have decided to frame ( just with a mat) and try to sell.

I doubt I can sell them for more than a couple of dollars but I think it will give the push to upgrade my skills.

So I thought instead of signing my name I would use a symbol as my signature. (my name is boring)

I found this Chinese symbol for “tall” and thought it would fit the bill. What do you think, too pretentious?

20120510-090020.jpg

Fracking Happiness

Two sides of the spectrum, fracking for oil and the pursuit of happiness.

David sent me a link to a story about fracking for oil overseas, turns out it’s a bit if a bust.

Fracking involves pumping a cocktail of water, chemicals, and sand under pressure to fracture rocks and release deposits of gas and oil. U.S. gas deposits within shale fields are among the world’s cheapest to exploit, thanks to accommodating geology. European basins tend to be smaller and occur in shapes that are less cost-efficient to access, says Pawel Poprawa, formerly a geologist at the Polish Geological Institute.

I listened to the new NPR show based on TED talks. This one focused on happiness and how limited choice might be better than too much choice. The link is to iTunes, but you probably can hear it directly on NPR.

Lastly here is a 15 minute watercolor tree, not great but fun. I tried painting with water soluble oil paint last night and they are okay. I think I need more linseed oil to make them workable. (I used my iPhone for the picture so the quality is low, no really the real thing is fracking awesome, no really, no really..okay you got me. )

20120509-073340.jpg

Oil Dome in Edmonton

I used to hate the Edmonton Oilers. When they had Wayne Gretsky, they beat my Calgary Flames every year in the playoffs.

It looks like Edmonton wants to build a new arena for their team based on a drop of oil.

Celebrate the oil, that’s what the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers owner, Daryl Katz, wants to do with the 360 Architecture design of a proposed new arena for Alberta’s oil-rich city.

Renderings were released recently by the City of Edmonton of a full council unveil on May 16 and a public comment period opening in June, the new $450 million arena is modeled after a drop of oil. Or a comma. Or a mutated boomerang. Okay, officially, we’ll stick with the drop of oil.

20120508-070328.jpg

Science Friday – Henry Petroski

Mr. Petroski was on Science Friday talking about his new book.

PETROSKI: I think the history of bridges is very interesting. Over the past century and a half or so, there’s been a major bridge failure about every 30 years. So right now, we’re looking ahead to about the year 2025, 2030, not too much more than a decade from now there – if things follow as they have proceeded in the past, we can expect some kind of big surprise. It will be a bridge – that bridge type that hasn’t failed before. It will be something that will seemingly come out of the blue. But then in retrospect, looking at it and fitting it into the pattern, it’s something we will say, oh, we should have seen that coming.

Income inequality to blame for infrastructure woes?

Is income inequality to blame for Americas infrastructure problems? I’m not sure but the times do feel different.

Overall, U.S. infrastructure spending has declined dramatically. In 1968, federal outlays for basic infrastructure amounted to 3.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Last year, federal infrastructure investments made up only 1.3 percent of GDP. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates we would now need to spend $2.2 trillion over five years to adequately “maintain and upgrade” America’s roads, dams, drinking water, school buildings and the like.

(HT David)

The Creative Engineer

Brandon Buckhalt has a website called “The Creative Engineer” dedicated to raising the image of engineers.
From his profile page.

I launched The Creative Engineer because I felt that the engineering profession was in serious need of an advocate. We keep reading that enrollment in engineering curriculums is down and that the percentage of practicing engineers is in the decline (due, in no small part, to the shedding of automotive industry jobs). Additionally, engineering rarely appears at the top of the Career Wish List when you talk to American High School students. I find this troubling, as it will be difficult for the U.S. to lead without anyone designing for the future.

Mr. Buckhalt also has a great gallery showcasing his Art and an explanation of how he creates his work. (the process sounds like something an engineer would come up with, Ha!)

He doesn’t have a lot of posts but maybe some visits will encourage him to continue.

I started doodling on break and painted this….and yes it is awful!

20120504-071223.jpg

Autodesk 123D apps

Autodesk has a number of free 3D applications for your desktop and your iPad. One app can turn 2D pictures into 3D images using their cloud service.

I’m not familiar with them but I am going to download them and give them a try. Maybe you can can give me some feedback on the products if you have tried them!