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Petroski on Engineering: Everyone Loves Good Design

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naperlou
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myraid of bridge types
naperlou   9/10/2012 12:04:54 PM
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I would certianly agree that many bridges are interesting and beautiful.  I am often more impressed by design of practical things than of objects that are formally called art.  If you ever get a chance to look at an integrated circuit under an electron microsocpe you find something incredibly beautiful in its own way. 

As for bridges, I had an opportunity to walk inside of post tensioned cast-in-place concrete box girder structure just before it was completed.  The spans started from both sides of the river and met in the middle.  Getting that right was quite a feat.  We were about 200 feet above the river with this ten foot gap in front of us.  I was a little scary, but wonderful.  Indisde the span were the cables and other structure of the bridge.  While few would ever see it, it was intersting in its own way.  I'm glad I got a chance to see it.

Jennifer Campbell
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Re: Awed by bridge design
Jennifer Campbell   9/10/2012 11:00:07 AM
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I have been fascinated/terrified by bridges since I was young. My fascination started in high school when we were tasked in a physics class to build a bridge out of dry spaghetti and glue. The test was to see how many bricks our teacher could hang from the bridge before it cracked. I can't remember how many bricks my bridge held, but I do remember drawing designs and working with my dad to test out different ideas.

My love for bridges was indeed renewed the first time I visited San Francisco. Walking along the Golden Gate Bridge was exhilarating.

Of course, there are the awful stories about bridges failing -- Minnesota bridge collapse, the Boston (where I'm from) nightmare called the Big Dig. For this reason, I also hold my breath when driving across these spans.

Beth Stackpole
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Awed by bridge design
Beth Stackpole   9/10/2012 6:33:42 AM
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Bridges are indeed a great example of great engineering combined with great design. I live in the Boston area and was witness to the whole development effort around the Zakim Bridge, which indeed permanantly altered the Boston skyline. It's always amazed me how engineers are not only able to come up with these unique architectural designs, but more critically, buy off the engineering feat to actually bring them to life.

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