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Re: The Engineering Paradigm (WAS Re: Open Web/LH Steel Joist S

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>So, in summary, I'd say that the work you cite might serve very well to 
>tell us how things used to be done, but not as a harbinger of the future. 
I probably didn't express myself very well. The basis of Petroski's work 
is ongoing. In engineering a new idea gets pushed 'til there are 
failures. The 'master' was a poor choice of terms. I really meant the 
term 'master' to refer to either an individual or organization (usually 
organizations don't innovate, but it could happen) who reduced some 
innovation to practice, usually with a lot of study and testing. The 
innovation matures gets developed and is considered standard practice. 
Since we don't study our successes, each time we successfully push the 
envelope we get closer the point where the original work was deficient in 
some way and things don't work like thay did. Petroski's hypothesis with 
bridges seems fairly accurate as such predictions go. as I recollect he's 
picked cable stayed bridges as the next technology that's being pushed 
toward the edge. 

Actually your mention of the Challenger is a perfect example of envelope 
pushing and unexamioned successes which eventually led to tragedy. It 
wouldn't surprise me to see something similar happen with finite element 
applications. Maybe even LRFD.

Christopher Wright P.E.    |"They couldn't hit an elephant from
chrisw(--nospam--at)        | this distance"   (last words of Gen.
___________________________| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)

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