Buildings want to float, and cars want to fly. These are just a couple of the counterintuitive engineering principles taken from the book, 101 Things I Learned in Engineering School (Grande Central Publishing) by John Kuprenas with Matthew Frederick.
We also learn that skyscrapers are built mostly to resist pressures from the side, not weight from the top. We discover that a triangle is more stable than a square â€“- thus many bridges and buildings are based on triangles.
Using the comment section below, let us know the unusual-but-obvious-once-you-think-about-it principles you learned in engineering school. We'd also like to know what you learned after engineering school that you wish you had known when you were a student.
Click the image below to start our slideshow on things learned in engineering school.
A skyscraper is a vertically cantilevered beam. The primary structural design consdieration is not resistance to vertical (gravity) loads, but resistance to lateral loads from wind and earthquakes. For this reason, tall structures function and are designed conceptually as large beams cantilevered from the ground. (Illustration source: Earthquake Buddy)
Wow that is really terrible, fire-iron.biz, I am glad your wife has survived, but it sounds like she has suffered from her injuries. I used to live in Arizona and there is a similar snowbird situation there that made the roads fuller and generally more dangerous. I can understand why you are such an advocate of safe and educated driving practices. Let's all try to stay safe and mindful out there as we're on the roads.
It's similar here in Florida we have "snowbird season" when people from the north invade Florida for the winter. My wife was almost killed in 2008 by snowbirds, they hit her from behind at a speed in excess of 95 Mph on a long straight stretch of four-lane secondary highway. In 2010 she almost died again as a result of secondary complications from the injuries sustained in the '08 crash. Actual "accidents" happen easily and frequently enough without adding ignorance and stupidity into the equation which is why I am a firm believer in education and fequent knowledge & skills testing.
Yes, driving can be very dangerous, no matter where you live, I think, but it's better to be in places with less people on the road. I, too, live in a rural area that is quite seasonal with visitors, and really detest when lots of people converge on my town in the summer months for holidays because it means a lot more (and a lot of rushed, city) drivers on the road.
LOL judging by the number of crashes, I'd say there's a lot of Americans who can't handle grid patterns either. Seriously, the patterns don't matter, it all boils down to lack of education and lack of common sense. So glad we now live in a rural area now, I avoid metro areas like the plague!
Yes, you make some very good points, fire-iron-biz, and to be honest, Portuguese drivers--even with all the investment in lessons--are not the safest, either! I think roundabouts are quite logical but if like Americans you are used to grids and traffic lights, they don't make a lot of sense. I myself enjoy them and think they do make traffic flow better, but I have been driving on them for some years now.
Well I know for fact that Italy cannot be lumped into the "Euro" group because pedestrians are targets and if you survive a taxi ride your heart is in perfect health. ;)
It's not a matter of money or time because I have seen many people go through driving schools learning everything necessary to pass the tests and still be a complete idiot behind the wheel. Round-abouts certainly aren't the answer here either, all one need do is see how many times vehicles repeatedly traverse the circle or return to the circle because they repeatedly take the wrong street. Some brainchild in New Jersey came up with an "All Turns From Right Lane" scheme that consumed billions of dollars and massive amounts of real estate yet accident rates remained unchanged or increased. I don't know what the answer is but requiring all to learn CDL-A material and repeated testing certainly wouldn't hurt.
I tend to agree with you, fire-iron.biz. I was surprised to hear that in Portugal, for example (where I live), students have to pay at least 800 euros to learn to drive and get their driving license because they are required to take a certain amount of hours for lessons (which of course they pay for). I hear in other places in Europe it is the same. I found this quite a stark contrast to the U.S. I am watching my nephews now getting ready to get their license and while they have to have their permits for quite awhile and get so many hours driving with other licensed drivers, it seems pale in comparison to the rigor of learning to drive in some other countries.
Liz, The problem is that many Americans just don't know how to drive, period. All we need do is make it mandatory that all drivers be required to pass the CDL-A with all endorsements written test and an actual on-road skills test every four years. We don't need any studies to know that roads would be much safer when they're not populated with incompetent drivers.
I have seen a whole lot of engineering positions requirements including "excellent communications skills", and it makes sense. If nobody can understand you, it does not matter how brilliant your design may be. And if one needs to address a room full of VPs it is quite handy to be able to speak sensibly.
My continuing education in that area has been from collections of MBA textbooks provided by various friends. I ignored the accounting texts because I really have no interest in being a bean counter, but the management and business plan development texts have been quite educational. Of course, my continuing education also included learning how to run a mill and a lathe accurately. That skill is handy when designing things and when reviewing designs.
The Dutch are known for their love of bicycling, and they’ve also long been early adopters of green-energy and smart-city technologies. So it seems fitting that a town in which painter Vincent van Gogh once lived has given him a very Dutch-like tribute -- a bike path lit by a special smart paint in the style of the artist's “Starry Night” painting.
For decades, engineers have worked to combat erosion by developing high-strength alloys, composites, and surface coatings. However, in a new paper, a team at Jilin University in China turned to one of the most deadly animals in the world for inspiration -- the yellow fat-backed scorpion.
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