US bridge collapse

Not nearly as tragic, but non-the-less:

An University in Johannesburg during the apartheid era nneded a new building. As a working building, the university decided to use it as an education enhancer. Student architects designed the building, quantity surveyors costed it, building sciences did the interior (plumbing, electrickery) and ergonomics. The University faculties involved reviewed and rated the work. The city council then evaluated the building design for regulatory breaches and, finally, the actual building work was tendered out.

The single flaw in the design occurred when the builders wanted to get onto the first floor to start with the second floor walls... there was no stairwell between the three floors. To this day, there is an external staircase bolted onto the outside.
That is a bit nuts on the part of whoever approved it.
 
TBH that’s the situation across a great deal of the developed worlds infrastructure. Decades of usage way beyond design assumptions, poor maintenance and a lot of it older than its specified design life.

Meanwhile, we’re building ever more large, multi-story structures without adequate engineering supervision. The big scandal here is Chinese steel. Lots of buildings being built with Chinese reinforcing steel, which contains Boron. Nothing wrong with that until you weld it, when it goes brittle. Many projects are welding reinforcement joints because it’s cheaper and quicker than traditional steel fixing. The site staff don’t even know there’s an issue.

So we’re building in faults because there are nowhere near enough experienced engineers (sometimes none) supervising the construction phase. That’s why I walked away from a career as a CPEng; not enough time to be duly diligent before signing as a competent, licensed professional.
 
Most bridges serve nowt now a day's
Takes tax money to repair
Other means of transport now a day's
Get rid of the most unesseacry
Maintenance for the important
My son lives next to the Milleau bridge, ( Norman Foster)
 
I was reading something t'other day giving the reason for Californias latest fuel tax increase as the need to collect money to repair the road network. Can't remember exactly how much but it was in the range $30 billion to $50 billion.

Personally I think they should use the repairs as an opportunity to create a return to work scheme for the many thousands of unemployed and homeless in California. Keep the money in the state and create useful contributing citizens to boot.
 
In Canada a P Eng will often wear a special iron ring. Legend has it that the ring was made from the iron of a bridge over the St Laurence that collapsed during construction over a century ago and that the ring is supposed to remind them of the need for humility. The bridge collapse led to much soul searching in the Canadian engineering profession at the time, although the bridge itself was designed by an American engineering firm with a prestigious record rather than Canadian engineers.
.
Thanks for the background on the Canadian iron rings. My Godson and his fiancé just graduated from Univ. of Waterloo. He posted a picture of their matching rings on Facebook and I thought they had eloped. His mum told me it was an engineering thing but now I understand better.
 
A classic case of an engineering cluster **** is the "Big Dig" a project to turn the section of Interstate 93 that goes through the center of Boston, Massachusetts. A massive job that took from 1991 to 2006 with some repairs still ongoing. Some of the problems were not engineering but the work by contractors and the workers employed by the contractors. To give the full story would require a book but a couple of examples:

Concrete was provided by one contractor but some was delivered substandard. Mixer trucks would get delayed and the concrete was starting to set up before delivery. The concrete contractor was able to get past tests on delivery by 1) adding water to the concrete 2) brown envelopes passed to the concrete inspectors. One of the reasons for delayed delivery was that some of the truck drivers were stopping along the way each day to pick up Metedone a clinic. Commercial drivers are supposed to be drug tested but they got by somehow.

Another problem was the tunnel ceiling. In 2006, shortly after the tunnel opened a massive concrete slab fell off the ceiling, crushing a lady in the car below to death. The ceiling slabs were fastened to the structural roof of the tunnel by threaded rods held in place in holes by an epoxy cement. The workers were supposed to use hammer drills to drill the holes. Holding a hammer drill overhead while drilling was uncomfortable and several bought their own diamond drill bits which drilled faster and with less discomfort. When the contractor noticed they questioned it and the labor union jumped in talking about repetitive stress injuries etc and the contractor backed off. The problem was the epoxy was designed to work in the rough textured holes made by a hammer drill and the diamond drills made a nice clean, smooth hole that the epoxy did not adhere to as well.
 
Concrete was provided by one contractor but some was delivered substandard. Mixer trucks would get delayed and the concrete was starting to set up before delivery. The concrete contractor was able to get past tests on delivery by 1) adding water to the concrete 2) brown envelopes passed to the concrete inspectors. One of the reasons for delayed delivery was that some of the truck drivers were stopping along the way each day to pick up Metedone a clinic. Commercial drivers are supposed to be drug tested but they got by somehow.
That sounds like Olympic Stadium in Montreal.
 
A classic case of an engineering cluster **** is the "Big Dig" a project to turn the section of Interstate 93 that goes through the center of Boston, Massachusetts. A massive job that took from 1991 to 2006 with some repairs still ongoing. Some of the problems were not engineering but the work by contractors and the workers employed by the contractors. To give the full story would require a book but a couple of examples:

Concrete was provided by one contractor but some was delivered substandard. Mixer trucks would get delayed and the concrete was starting to set up before delivery. The concrete contractor was able to get past tests on delivery by 1) adding water to the concrete 2) brown envelopes passed to the concrete inspectors. One of the reasons for delayed delivery was that some of the truck drivers were stopping along the way each day to pick up Metedone a clinic. Commercial drivers are supposed to be drug tested but they got by somehow.

Another problem was the tunnel ceiling. In 2006, shortly after the tunnel opened a massive concrete slab fell off the ceiling, crushing a lady in the car below to death. The ceiling slabs were fastened to the structural roof of the tunnel by threaded rods held in place in holes by an epoxy cement. The workers were supposed to use hammer drills to drill the holes. Holding a hammer drill overhead while drilling was uncomfortable and several bought their own diamond drill bits which drilled faster and with less discomfort. When the contractor noticed they questioned it and the labor union jumped in talking about repetitive stress injuries etc and the contractor backed off. The problem was the epoxy was designed to work in the rough textured holes made by a hammer drill and the diamond drills made a nice clean, smooth hole that the epoxy did not adhere to as well.
Concrete work is often botched; contractors and agitator operators adding water to make a stiff, high strength mix more workable is pretty common malpractice. Another trick is to over vibrate near the edges to get a fair face, but leave voids in the main structure because it’s too hard to get the poker in between the steel.

I once commissioned a waste water plant that had loads of pumps on concrete plinths. When we started them, the plinths cracked off the concrete slab below. The contractor had used a bonding agent instead of scabbling the slab surface to get a good bond. Must have replaced at least 50 plinths during commisisoning.....

Back when I was practicing, I always insisted on engineers being present during early structural pours to set the standard. And then doing snap visits once the standard has been set. Two problems; clients don’t want the expense and junior engineers don’t have the moral courage to stand up to knarly old concrete foremen.
 
Thanks for the background on the Canadian iron rings. My Godson and his fiancé just graduated from Univ. of Waterloo. He posted a picture of their matching rings on Facebook and I thought they had eloped. His mum told me it was an engineering thing but now I understand better.
If they were new graduates they shouldn't have had a P Eng yet. That requires working for several years under the supervision of a qualified person, rather like working as an apprentice in a trade before becoming a journeyman. I suspect the rings may have been something else.

Congratulations on him graduating from Waterloo though, it is one of the top universities in Canada and is particularly known for engineering.
 
@bobthebuilder -
I have never worked construction but when I was a sixth form student in boarding school my roommate had spent the previous summer testing concrete at a big shopping mall and office park in New Jersey. He told me that bribe attempts when he rejected loads were a daily occurrence. He never took bribes which would annoy them. The drivers did not realize that his dad was both the general contractor and developer and owned the mall. His dad was a millionaire but always renewed his own plumbing/gassfitters license.
 
If they were new graduates they shouldn't have had a P Eng yet. That requires working for several years under the supervision of a qualified person, rather like working as an apprentice in a trade before becoming a journeyman. I suspect the rings may have been something else.

Congratulations on him graduating from Waterloo though, it is one of the top universities in Canada and is particularly known for engineering.
Not sure how it works but when he was at Waterloo he was in a system where he would spend terms working and then go back to class, then work at someplace else. At one point his internship was at the Royal Mint. During the time at the mint he never sent souvenirs to his Uncle David :-D. Maybe all the internships sped up the process. I will ask.

I have heard about Waterloo and all of it good. The father of a good friend was president of Waterloo for several years, until the Queen appointed him Governor General. Visited Waterloo when I was up there for my friends wedding.

My other Canadian Godchild just graduated from high school in Collingwood and she is off to McGill in the fall, another great school . Sometime this fall I might drive up there, see Montreal again and take the Goddaughter to dinner. Maybe Thanksgiving when the weather is still nice.
 
@bobthebuilder -
I have never worked construction but when I was a sixth form student in boarding school my roommate had spent the previous summer testing concrete at a big shopping mall and office park in New Jersey. He told me that bribe attempts when he rejected loads were a daily occurrence. He never took bribes which would annoy them. The drivers did not realize that his dad was both the general contractor and developer and owned the mall. His dad was a millionaire but always renewed his own plumbing/gassfitters license.
Many of my civil engineering student contemporaries paid their way through university site testing concrete. It was something of a right of passage; not sure if that is still the case.

I didn’t as 1) my major was Mechanical Engineering and 2) I was in the Reserve which paid better. I’ve not spent much time on site all career; after I left the Army I focused on commercials and (big) project management.

Which highlights another issue for the engineering profession. Many of us migrate into better paid adjacent roles. I can’t think of any of my network contemporaries who are filling principal engineer roles.

The industry has lost me completely and I won’t be returning.
 
The big scandal here is Chinese steel. Lots of buildings being built with Chinese reinforcing steel
Chinese rebar is going to be a big problem in the future, and it has been pointed out by many steelmakers from elsewhere, including two who make it in the UK, Celsa and my lot (Liberty House). But hey, it's "cheaper from China" which is all that counts at the moment.
 
Thanks for the background on the Canadian iron rings. My Godson and his fiancé just graduated from Univ. of Waterloo. He posted a picture of their matching rings on Facebook and I thought they had eloped. His mum told me it was an engineering thing but now I understand better.
Waterloo is a really good uni....they f-ing won the Challenge X!

Challenge X - Wikipedia

I was part of the UofMI team..we did great in the first two years but after that they pulled away and came first.
 
Chinese rebar is going to be a big problem in the future, and it has been pointed out by many steelmakers from elsewhere, including two who make it in the UK, Celsa and my lot (Liberty House). But hey, it's "cheaper from China" which is all that counts at the moment.
If China can make this and not have accidents, I will be ok.

 
If China can make this and not have accidents, I will be ok.

The new Forth Road Bridge (or Queensferry Crossing as it's officially called) used Chinese steel plate in it's construction. This caused a bit of a stir up here at my work at the time..

Dalzell steelworks in £1.6billion Forth Road Bridge snub

Later of course, much of it was found to be substandard and Dalzell did actually end up supplying plate for the bridge. Buy cheap, but twice as the old adage goes.
 
Chinese rebar is going to be a big problem in the future, and it has been pointed out by many steelmakers from elsewhere, including two who make it in the UK, Celsa and my lot (Liberty House). But hey, it's "cheaper from China" which is all that counts at the moment.
There’s nothing wrong with Chinese steel. It’s made to exacting specifications. It’s “just” that their specifications are different.

The problems come when project teams buy Chinese steel on price and buy a specification that differs from that the design engineers specified.

It’s made worse by the fact that modern engineers are code donkeys. They can’t go back to first principles and design to the steel specification because the computer says no.
 
The new Forth Road Bridge (or Queensferry Crossing as it's officially called) used Chinese steel plate in it's construction. This caused a bit of a stir up here at my work at the time..

Dalzell steelworks in £1.6billion Forth Road Bridge snub

Later of course, much of it was found to be substandard and Dalzell did actually end up supplying plate for the bridge. Buy cheap, but twice as the old adage goes.
There’s nothing wrong with Chinese steel. It’s made to exacting specifications. It’s “just” that their specifications are different.

The problems come when project teams buy Chinese steel on price and buy a specification that differs from that the design engineers specified.

It’s made worse by the fact that modern engineers are code donkeys. They can’t go back to first principles and design to the steel specification because the computer says no.
The thing with Chinese suppliers is getting the quality control (QC) right...
 
Not sure how it works but when he was at Waterloo he was in a system where he would spend terms working and then go back to class, then work at someplace else. At one point his internship was at the Royal Mint. During the time at the mint he never sent souvenirs to his Uncle David :-D. Maybe all the internships sped up the process. I will ask.
Waterloo have a coop system where students get coop placements mixed in between their academic terms. There are different "streams", so the coop placements can be at any time of the year. It takes longer to graduate, but when you do you have (usually) relevant experience which gives you a head start in a career.

Here's the requirements for a P Eng in Ontario (professional licensing is a provincial matter). Note the 48 month experience requirement.
Become a P.Eng. / Requirements for Licensure

To be granted a licence to practise professional engineering in Ontario, an applicant must:
  1. be at least 18 years old;
  2. be of good character;
  3. meet PEO's stipulated academic requirements for licensure (hold an undergraduate engineering degree from a Canadian Engineering Accreditation board (CEAB)-accredited program, or possess equivalent qualifications), and, if required, successfully complete any technical exams.
  4. fulfill the engineering work experience requirements (demonstrate at least 48 months of verifiable, acceptable engineering experience, at least 12 months of which must be acquired in a Canadian jurisdiction under a licensed professional engineer); and
  5. successfully complete PEO’s Professional Practice Examination (PPE).
I don't know how to fit 4 years of experience into a normal engineering program, but there might be some non-obvious angle to it such as working part time doing engineering work during the academic terms.

I have heard about Waterloo and all of it good. The father of a good friend was president of Waterloo for several years, until the Queen appointed him Governor General. Visited Waterloo when I was up there for my friends wedding.
Waterloo is also a major centre of high tech industry, originally spreading out from the university into the surrounding area. It then grew across Waterloo and into Kitchener (which is directly adjacent to Waterloo). The Perimeter Institute is also located there and they conduct advanced research into physics and cosmology.

My other Canadian Godchild just graduated from high school in Collingwood and she is off to McGill in the fall, another great school . Sometime this fall I might drive up there, see Montreal again and take the Goddaughter to dinner. Maybe Thanksgiving when the weather is still nice.
McGill is another one of the top universities in Canada. Good luck to her as well.
 

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