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Makes Me Want to Vomit

by Arthur S. Koenig, PE, MDI Labs.Inc.

A while back I opened up my March 2008 issue of the ASCE Civil Engineering Magazine and found, side-by-side, 2 letters to the editor that but give me one more reason to hang my head in shame at what my profession has become, and is on the road to further becoming.

The first letter "Gusset Plates Should Have Been Caught", concerns the failure of the IH 35 Bridge in Minnesota. The 2d, "Changes to Education Not Necessary" deals with but another of those self serving and ever present calls for "change" from those entrenched in the politico-economic-engineering education bureaucracy. These 2 letters, taken together are but bright torches that illuminate the state of affairs.

Turning to the education letter first, but keeping in mind that I have just read the gusset plates letter, and, without my joining on the issue of whether the gusset plates should have been "caught", or whether or not this now means that we will redesign and inspect each and every bridge in the US, or that we will now daily inspect all gussets, each nut and bolt, each washer, each coat of paint, etc. ad nauseam; and not admonishing the reader that structures do not fail because they were not designed to code (that being a legal fiction), Berti , in reaction to the Galloway Article "Proposal for Engineering Education Reform" that was printed in the November 2008 ASCE Civil Engineering Magazine, points out that the Galloway "proposal"

"...says that they [engineers] must be trained in public policy, ethics, leadership, communication, and management in order to flourish in our global economy; be able to work on multi-cultural teams; and understand social sciences, business, economics, and cross cultural dynamics, including foreign language and cultural studies."

To his immense credit, Berti takes issue with such proposals.

While I, too, take issue with such politically correct reformulation of our engineering education, I pause to point out that perhaps here then (in the Galloway proposal) we find the very reason(s) why people died on Interstate 35, and the reason why more will die elsewhere as the pernicious introduction and cancerous propagation of green and social "save the world, change we can believe in, hope for the future, etc" infects and takes over the profession via its initiates being churned out with "green" and other politically correct stamps of approval from our nation's engineering schools, for nowhere in the cited Galloway paragraph of proposed "reforms" is there any mention of how to design gusset plates!!!!

But, that should not really matter, for if those gusset plates were mis-designed, but mis-designed using a Galloway "green" pencil, constructed of materials that were certified as not having any lead (gotta save the environment), or certified as being material from the rain forest (jungle) so as to help indigenous natives realize their potential (which they have had 2,000 years to realize already), all of course, without any harm to any of the animals in the wetlands (swamp), using only energy from a solar panel (pipe dream), without offending anyone (diversity), by an engineer that spoke 12 languages so he could be certified as "sensitive" (multi cultural), and that thought that no one culture was superior to any other (diversity again), that was given a special waiver to get into engineering school (discrimination and unequal opportunity), that thought that heating homes with electric power is in no way superior to heating them with buffalo chips, and constructed from plans that were printed in Spanish, English, Scottish Brogue, and all the other languages of the world so as to not offend anybody and so we can truly call ourselves oh-so-sensitive globalists, then such mis-design should not matter because it was all so politically correct, and those that stand and shed tears over the graves of their loved ones as they lament their deaths on, or under, that bridge, will drop tears, not only for them, but also unknowingly drop tears for what used to be a noble profession turned now into a dead carcass filled with political correctness and finger-painting, brought about by a corruption of thought as to what engineers are supposed to be and what they are supposed to do (design stuff so that in a population of structure types the probability of people getting killed is theoretically less than if that same population of structures was designed by a non-engineer) ... and what they are supposed to NOT do (engage in PC re-education initiatives that detracts from what they are supposed to do). [Yes, to educated engineers, that sentence does make sense. Parse it, you will have fun.]

I suppose that this article may bring some heat and ire from self-anointed, especially from the engineers and the overweening engineering organizations that are making money out of the corruption of the profession (follow the money if you want to understand the "green" movement), but the continuing state of decline has brought me to the breaking point, and perhaps this article will let those of like mind know that they are not alone and give them common cause to stand up to the craziness that has infected the field.

By the way, perhaps if a contractor had not loaded up the lanes of the bridge with supplies and equipment, then perhaps that bridge would not be in the water today, but then again, if there was overloading, perhaps it was not caught, or proscribed in the remediation plans and specs, because the engineers doing the remediation design came out of an engineering program that displaced some of its courses in gusset plate design, construction failures, structural analysis and redundancy design, with courses on cultural sensitivity and sustainability, global warming, diversity, etc., and because its students, instead of taking additional courses in corrosion chemistry, alkali aggregate reaction, engineering inspection of steel structures, or laboratory testing of rock and soils, spent their time traveling to a far away land so that they could get a "feel good credit" for building water wells in countries that in 5000 years have not learned themselves how to create a social and political structure that will result in them being able to build it for themselves.

So, the next time you or one of your family are being killed by a bridge falling down, or a space shuttle exploding, or a tunnel in Boston dropping some panels on you, ask yourself if it would not have been better to have your projects designed by a real engineer who's mind has been conditioned by rigorous technical training, as opposed to being designed by one of today's culturally and diversity sensitive girly-men.

And they wonder why enrollment at engineering schools is falling. It ain't rocket science.