Friday, November 28, 2008

Notes on Kranakis: Constructing a Bridge

- There were no more than 30 civil engineers in the US in 1815.
- Finley used various information sources for his early suspension bridge. Historical precedent -- Chinese bridges -- provided the inspiration and the Encyclopedia Britannica (1797) provided the strength of materials. He also built a model, perhaps getting inspiration form Abraham Rees's Cyclopeadia and it's entry on bridges. He also may have consulted a work like Gadson's Geometrical rules made easy for the use of mechanicks concerned in building (1739).
- He was primiarly working before 1812 and the formalization of engineering practice.
- Navier used -- but was critical of -- Belidor's Architecture hydraulique.
- "Relatively little has been written about the history of the maintenance and repair of engineering structures, but this history is at least as long and complex as the history of their initial construction, and equally important." p. 189
- "Finley used models, and experimental apparatus comprising cables, pulleys, and weights. He also sought undertanding through encyclopedia articales on bridges and on the strenth of iron, and through the construciton (in 1801) of a 7o-foot trial span over a stream close to Uniontown. Navier's tools were mainly mathematical: calculus, Fourier series, elasticity theory, mathematical statics, and a variety of specific equations such as the equation for belt friction. Navier also sought understanding through inspection of existing British bridges, through discussions with the builders of some of those bridges, and through published literature, not only on suspension bridges, but also on mathematics, theoretical mechanics, and elasticity theory." p. 199
- Manuals by Dennis Hart Mahan and Charles Storrow came from European sources.
- Check: Charlton, History of theory of structures in the nineteenth century.
- West Point, established 1802. Rensselaer, established 1825. A number of engineering schools opened between 1830 and 1860: Brown, Harvard, Yale, Wesleyan, University of Michigan, New York University, Dartmouth, Rutgers, Indiana University, Cincinnati College, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia, University of Georgia, University of Maryland.
- Morrill Act opened up another slew of schools after 1862.
- Note: American inventors followed the patent literature which quickly adopted standard presentation. Not so much for the French.
- CHK: Dorn (Dissertation), The art of building and the science of mechanics: A study of the union of theory and practice in the early history of structural analysis.
- CHK: Danko (Dissertation), The evolution of the simple truss bridge, 1790-1850.
- CHK: Hindle and Lubar, Engines of Change.
- CHK: Weiss, THe making of technological man: The social origins of French engineering education.


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