Structure Against the Storm: Notes from Hurricane Harvey


Hurricane Harvey, the most powerful hurricane to hit the US in a decade 

I’m writing this article while “hunkered down” against Hurricane Harvey, the most powerful hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Wilma nearly 12 years ago.  Harvey came ashore two nights ago as a Category 4 hurricane (indicating minimum sustained wind velocity of 130 mph) and continues to punish our area with torrential downpours.  My neighborhood has had 16 inches of rain over the past 24 hours, something that is expected to continue over the next several days.  I also periodically am losing power, and so have to resort to the old-school instruments of pencil, paper, and candle while writing this.


What can I expect t from a Category 4 hurricane?  According to the National Hurricane Center, “catastrophic damage” will occur:

Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months. Continue reading

Houston’s Structural Skyline: From Steel and Glass to Beer Cans

AC-1Houston’s Structural Extremes

This weekend, Saturday April 11, Houston’s Annual Art Car Parade will be held.  It is one of the highlights of the local entertainment season, a perfect meld of engineering/mechanical aptitude and artsy wackiness: something purely Houstonian.

The idea of the Art Car Parade is that anyone with an old junk car (or anything else on wheels) spends a year or more decorating it in a unique artistic style that speaks to them alone: the car may end up covered with dancing lobsters, or disguised as a dragon, peacock, or even as Siamese twin VW bugs.  Then one Saturday a year, 250 or so art cars parade down one of Houston’s main drags, like some psychedelic Easter parade strutting for the appreciative crowds.  If you can’t make the Art Car Parade in person, here is the next best thing:    
Continue reading

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

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


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, one organization that is looking to do just that.

Continue reading