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Petroski on Engineering: Mobile & Stabile Art

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Dave Palmer
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Moving sculptures
Dave Palmer   10/1/2012 11:20:21 AM
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When I lived in New Orleans, there was an incredible collection of moving sculptures in an unlikely place: the headquarters of the K&B drugstore chain.

K&B Plaza, on St. Charles Avenue, was home to over 40 "kinetic sculptures," including this one by local artist Lin Emery.  Some are still there, but many of the sculptures have since been moved to a sculpture garden in City Park.  I highly recommend it to anyone visiting New Orleans.

I've often thought that studying the kinematics of these sculptures would make a good project for an introductory dynamics class.

naperlou
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Descriptive geometry
naperlou   10/1/2012 10:24:42 AM
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Your mention of descriptive geometry texts takes me back.  My father was a draftsman and finally got an associates degree.  I still have all his textbooks in descriptive geometry.  It can be a useful skill.  My brother and I were lucky in that our high school had a great pre-engineering/architecture program.  The first two years were common.  It was in the last year that you specialized.  We had a great teacher and we did some very interesting projects.  I went the pre-engineering route and my brother the architecture route.  When he was in architecture school I used to help him with his projects.  He would often ask me to help with some of the more complex perspectives.  I was working full time and would go to his place and work on this.  I really found it challenging and enjoyable. 

Our engineering schools today challenge students with one or more group project.  These have to be unique and the students have to come up with solutions to new problems.  Some of these are significant.  I truly believe that working with objects and solving real problems helps engineers to really understand.  This obviously helped Calder.

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