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OT: Research Suggestions (and Solicitations?)

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Greetings, fellow dinosaurs still conversing via good old email instead of web, Facebook or Twitter (or what may lie beyond them). 

An update to my status. I have decided to pursue not just the one, but TWO Ph.D.s in my impending dotage. The History thing is still on, but I simply couldn't resist looking in on the Civil and Environmental Engineering program at the University of Houston. Their shiny newish facility is next door to the decrepit tomb of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, and a tour brought me face to face with some enthusiastic faculty members who urged me into their company. One of them - with one foot in Emeritus, I think - has written extensively already on the history of engineering from the Eighteenth Century (he seems to have been physically present for much of it), and was very encouraging. 

So, I hope to hear from them within the fortnight concerning acceptance - and meanwhile have already registered for a survey course on the French Revolution, so...

Anyway, I'm not sure I can "self-fund" such an ambitious program, but while hunting for grant dollars in History might be adventurous I'm guessing the money might be readily forthcoming in structural engineering research. 

My problem remains as ever, that I simply can't limit myself to a very narrow line of inquiry based on personal interest because there's really nothing I'm NOT interested in within structural engineering. Perhaps I will need to have some benefactor decide the issue FOR me, by waving research grant money in my face. 

So...what's hot, folks? What in your opinion are the pressing areas of inquiry in our field? I will consider anything that doesn't involve sacrifice of higher orders of mammals, or building a better concentration camp, or what-have-you. 

Would love to know your thoughts. 

William L. Polhemus, Jr. P.E.
Sent from my iPad 2

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