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A dialog about our new bridge and these web pages

Overview. As a pointy-headed university professor, my weekend project of bridge photography and building these web pages generated many questions and introduced me to just-in-time learning. I enjoy chasing my curiosity and want to identify ways to encourage younger learners to also enjoy curiosity chasing and learning.

Learning usually requires repetition while forgetting occurs when I infrequently use information. Many young learners do not understand the importance of repetition. Weekly visits to the bridge provided the repetition necessary to detect changes in the bridge and consequently generated many questions and opportunities for learning. Over the course of the bridge project, I had access to few experts for answering questions. Rather than a liability, this became an asset and pushed me to improve my search skills with Google. Soon, I found that answers to questions encountered during my weekly photo shoots were often only a Google-search away - (see Restoring the Joy in Learning). Consequently Google + Internet became dependable extensions of my memory.

The bridge story is a work in progress and is evolving from a simple collections of photographs to an experiment with Internet-centric just-in-time learning. Insights I gain from you will find their way into the learning centers of MUSC. Palmetto Bridge Constructors, a joint venture between Tidewater Skanska and Flatiron Constructors, as well as High Steel Structures, Freyssinet, the SCDOT and the Federal Highway Commission Office of Bridge Technology guided much of my learning. I also learn from many of you and from Google-linked resources. More important is the e-mail encouragement I receive from many of you.

Sat, 16 Jul 2005

July 16, 2005: The meaning of a signature bridge

Yesterday, Vince Streano, David Wertz and I revisited the top of the west tower. It was almost 1 year ago (July 21, 2004) that David and I visited the top of the west tower - at that time looking at a number of bridge engineering issues. Among them was the cabling process managed by Olivier Forget from Freyssinet - and the time was near the end of "le Tour de France". During an earlier visit to the top of the west tower, I noticed a concrete tablet on the floor (upper left) with the names of many of the construction workers. Dumb Frank did not record this photographically at the time. This time I was not going to repeat the same mistake twice. Not only did I take several photos of the tablet, but I found Philip Cotter's and Lewis Williamson's names on the tablet. Philip and Lewis are iron workers, a very special breed of man that suspended themselves while erecting edge and floor girders and placing the concrete floor panels. Philip's wife, Tina, exchanged a number of emails with me about Philip and his artistic and literary skill - naming the last main-span crane (east side) the "Last Dinosaur Standing" (see for the dinosaur story).

Here, permanently placed on the top of the west tower is a symbol of the worker's bride. Many signatures are absent - but the pride runs all the way from Bobby Clair through Wade, Peo, Marvin, David and Olivier all the way to me - as these folks opened doors that enabled me to bring to you much of the untold stories behind building our Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

And a final note about the Internet and learning. The Internet provided me a medium that enabled me to share with you what the bridge folks shared with me. Not only that, the Internet provided a communication medium that linked me with Bill Mankin at High Steel, with engineers at the Federal Highway Administration, Bridge Division, with Buckland and Taylor, T. Y. Lin, HDR, Freyssinet and Tidewater Skanska. Governor Sanford and Bob O'Brien even provided input. In the end, Bob has suggested that I explore transfering this web site to the Historical Society or the Library - a wonderful strategy for breathing new life into these pages.

So from me - smiles and a big thank you to all of you!
Frank Starmer, Medical University of South Carolina.

posted at: 12:02 | path: | permanent link to this entry

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