Happy Halloween: Nature’s Greatest Structural Engineer

Is it Real, or is it CloudCalc?  Only the Spider Knows for Sure

Well it’s Halloween (and how appropriate — this is my 13th blog post!), so I’ve been trying to think of a seasonally appropriate structural engineering topic for this week’s CloudCalc blog.  In order to get inspiration, I walked down my street looking at the decorations on the neighborhood houses.  A Jack o’ Lantern?  No, that’s not a good representative, since after a few days they typically become so mushy that they can’t even support themselves.  There’s a ghost – or actually a sheet of white plastic hanging from a tree.  The best engineering analogy that brought to mind was Tyvek wrap covering a half-built structure.  Over there, a couple of witches…probably not, a blog on aerospace engineering might be a better place to discuss women who manage to get broomsticks to fly.
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Engineering, on the Way to San Jose

Dominic Kinnear, fellow traveler on the road west

“Will you live in the Bay Area January through March 2015, if we fund you?” – Last Tuesday night I came to the moment of truth on the application that I was filling out, in my attempt to get CloudCalc selected as a member of the Winter 2015 class of YCombinator, the world’s preeminent technology accelerator — the birth place of such luminaries as Dropbox, Reddit, and Airbnb.  Now they were asking the clincher – if selected, did I promise to relocate for 3 months from Houston to Silicon Valley? Continue reading

NYC’s Highline – Where “That” Type of Engineer Meets “This” Type of Engineer

New York City’s High Line, then and now

“Whooooooooo whooooo!”  Admit it, there’s some train love in all of us.  I first realized my love of trains when I was a little kid, in the years following the great interstate highway build out, when it was pretty well decided that the long haul trucker had made the train obsolete.  Whenever my family went for a drive it seemed like we always passed train graveyards.  To me, it was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen – what were all the different types of trains and street cars used for, where had they traveled, what would it be like to own one to play in?
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Filippo Brunelleschi, Genius of Florence (or the Dome, from Rome to Austin)

Texas State Capitol

Last week I visited Austin, the capital of Texas.  For the uninitiated, Austin is best known for its music scene, the University of Texas, and strange bedfellows (this country’s most conservative state government meeting amidst a community whose civic motto is the hippie-inspired “Keep Austin weird”).  But where were my eyes turned?  Up, of course, to look at the structure that dominates the Austin skyline – the Texas State Capitol building. Continue reading