Engineering or Art: Why not Both?

art-3Dubai Skyline – Engineering or Art?

“Filling a space in a beautiful way. That’s what art means to me.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

This past weekend my wife and I were in Providence, visiting our daughter for the purpose of meeting her new boyfriend.  Walking through our hotel I noticed an interesting diptych among the artwork decorating the hallway – two pieces celebrating the nearby Exchange Bridge.  One piece, an engineering drawing used in the construction, had many characteristics – clean lines, geometric patterns, symmetry, and interesting ornamentation – usually associated with many purely artistic works.  The other piece was a photo capturing the beauty of the resulting tangle of structural steel that was the bridge itself.  The photographer, coming upon this utilitarian object, recognized that it had “filled a space in a beautiful way” – and thus was art, to Georgia O’Keeffe, to the photographer, as well as to many others who walk the streets of the city (or the halls of that hotel) every day. Continue reading

Tech Accelerators, the New Software Startup Model, and Engineering Software

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What’s better than spending time in Houston?  The only thing I can imagine would be having someone pay you to spend time in Houston…If that sounds right to you, I take pleasure in introducing you to the Surge Accelerator http://www.surgeaccelerator.com/, one organization that is looking to do just that.

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One Engineer Remembers the World Trade Center

 

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Yesterday marked the 13th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, an attack that destroyed both towers, killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, decimated New York City’s first responders, and in many ways changed the world forever.  The date September 11 will always conjure up, for those who lived through it, horrible memories — of the sights, the fears, the concerns for loved ones, and above all the concern and sorrow felt for those nearly 3,000 who we did not even know.

This blog article is an inadequate place to try to honor the memory of those who lost their lives on that day, so I will not even try.  Rather I would like to celebrate the too brief existence of two buildings – two buildings which hold a significant place in my life.

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First and √100 – an Engineer’s Guide to Football

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As if the real JJ wasn’t big and scary enough

This weekend the pro football season starts across America.  Sunday will find me at NRG Stadium alongside 72,000 Houston Texans fans, joining 1,000,000 others in 15 NFL stadiums across America, as well as 100 million viewers parked in front of televisions watching their favorite teams.  Today, hope is alive for every NFL fan – every team is still undefeated (late edit: except the Packers), and every fan dreams of the feats that their favorite players will use to win the Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl XLIX in February.  I know the Texans fans are salivating over their expectations of all the times that JJ Watt and JD Clowney will combine to drive the opposing quarterback into the turf.  I hear the callers to sports talk radio swearing that Ryan Fitzpatrick (recently named by Sports Illustrated as the 5th smartest athlete in sports — so he could have been an engineer, too) will erase the memory of Matt Schaub’s pick-sixes by connecting on touchdowns to Andre Johnson.  And the entire Houston community believes that new coach Bill O’Brien (another guy smart enough to have been an engineer) will finally turn the team’s long simmering potential into real wins.

But engineers are logical thinkers.  We know that only one of 32 teams can win the Super Bowl, and thus “our” team (anyone’s team) has a 97% chance of being a loser.  So why get our hopes up with the action on the field when we know that there is virtually no chance of success?  So what’s an engineer to do for entertainment while attending a football game?  Well how about checking out that engineering wonder that we’re sitting in, the modern football stadium?

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