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Think Like an Engineer

In science, we research, explore and analyze in order to understand our environment.  In design, we create our environment, and then research and analyze to justify our creation.  While the skill sets in science and mathematics are core competencies for engineering, in practice these activities are often derivatives of the intuitive and creative process.

The reward of engineering is the satisfaction of creating something where there was nothing.  This creation has a purpose and design has a goal.  Goals are not all utilitarian. However, utility is a condition of engineering practice.  In the realm of bridge design, the primary goal is obvious " to carry vehicles from one end to the other.  The utility is more complex.  Most bridges are created with public funds, and prudence at least, and efficiency at best, are obligations.  Both are established at the conceptual design stage, where behavioral concepts lead to structural form, largely defining the amount of materials and the methods of construction that result in an initial cost, service life, and overall utility for the design. 

The history of bridge engineering has many lessons for designs of today, where our modern tools and materials allow us to extend classical concepts and create greater utility in our built environment.  The art of engineering is to make difficult problems seem simple. The talent to visualize and express effective design concepts that one can then prove with analytical science is the mark of an engineer.

Speaker: David Goodyear, T. Y. Lin International

Tuesday, 02/20/18


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Paul Berg Hall

Stanford University
Room A
Stanford, CA 94305