Crashing and the Cloud: Lessons Learned!



“We have very good news”, said the tech rep over the phone.

“Great, it’s about time I got some good news regarding a computer,” I thought.  Lately it seemed like the tech gods had been conspiring against me.


“The good news is that the repair will be completely covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.  Of course due to the extensive problems, we will have to send it back to the factory.  If things go well, we expect the repair to take approximately ten business days.  With 2 days shipping each way, you should expect a call from us in about 14 business days.” Continue reading

26.2: The Engineering of Marathon Running

With 50,000 runners stepping with 475-lb force
3 times per second, it’ll be time to fix the roads!

Huff…owww…puff…ouch…pant.  Just nine miles to go this morning…that’s just 18,000 steps…


I am writing this entry from New York City, where the 45th NYC Marathon will take place this Sunday.  On that date, 50,000 hardy souls will run 26.2 miles through the streets of NYC’s 5 boroughs.  For some of these 50,000, a marathon is a regular event (for example, 69 year old Larry Macon set a record by running 239 marathons in 2013).  For others, it will be a first time try – which may end up being the first of many (who knows, maybe there’s a future Larry Macon in the bunch), or it might simply be a onetime only thing, meant to check off one more item on a bucket list. Continue reading

Structural Engineering of the Future!

2062, a Structural Engineering Utopia

When I was young, everybody knew what the future held.  Much as an earlier era had had Jules Verne’s novels to show them space travel and undersea living, we had The Jetsons every Sunday night on ABC-TV in 1962-1963.  Here our future world was clearly laid out for us — there would be robots to do 99% of our work; all buildings would be high on stilts, above the clouds; every person, place, and thing would be named after something related to outer space; and of course we would have jetpacks.  Yes it’s true that The Jetsons didn’t get everything right.  For example, teenage Judy Jetson was often shown confiding her secrets to her robotic diary, while in reality adolescents of today’s “future” are much more likely to broadcast their secrets onto the internet – one small detail that the show missed completely. Continue reading

Of Live Load and “Love Load”, Bridges, Bats, and Locks

Parisian bridge collapses under the weight of love

A $24.4 million dollar traffic fine, an 80,000 pound live load that takes off (literally) for 30 minutes every evening, and a structure that stands up well in the face of war, but collapses in the face of love…what do they all have in common?   They all relate to bridges, and the unanticipated loads that they may have to endure.

We know that the job of the engineer is not only to design a structure that safely withstands its anticipated loads, but likewise to accurately anticipate those loads.  A good design may go for naught if it doesn’t suitably consider the possibility of every load that it may eventually experience. Continue reading

I’m a Truss Me! Wizard, There has to be a Twist…

Tilt! #@$&%*  Another truss bites the dust…

Oh hello out there!   I guess I haven’t been around much lately here at the blog; I’ve been a little…busy.  I’ve been spending a lot of time recently…honing my engineering skills…solving difficult challenges…trying just a little harder to come up with the optimal design…I know I need to take some time off to get this blog article written, but it seems there’s always one more tweak that might improve the situation…I’ve got something important that I’m almost done with.

By the way, have you ever tried the Truss Me! app? Continue reading

From Damascus Swords to A992 – the Evolution of Steel

Damascus Steel – Dominating the Medieval World

“Damascus steel” whispered the merchant, pulling the sword out from under a pile of silks to show it to me.  “The strongest, sharpest, and most durable steel in the world.  All of you want it, only the most deserving can have it.”

I, the itinerant adventure arriving from the west, seeking my fortune here in the Middle East, had ventured into this bazaar in search of treasures not available back home.  Like so many visitors before me who had crisscrossed this part of the world – the Crusaders, the Mamelukes, the Mongols, the Turks, the British – I was taken by both the beauty of the object, plus the power that such a weapon could bring. Continue reading

An Up-and-Down Career: Roller Coaster Engineer

The Original Structural Analysis in the Cloud?

Last week I was chatting to my daughter about my blog.

“Your articles are OK,” she said.  “But why don’t you write something that would appeal to someone my age, a 20-something?”

“Like what?” I asked.  “What aspect of structural engineering might interest a 20-something?”

“How about Roller Coaster Tycoon?” she suggested. Continue reading