Tag Archives: Construction

Updates from Chicago Booth

Identify and rise above load-bearing assumptions
By Linda E. Ginzel – How could you build a really, really tall building without building really, really thick walls?

A man named William Le Baron Jenney came up with the answer. Jenney is widely recognized as the father of the American skyscraper, and according to Chicago lore, he had a breakthrough idea when he observed his wife placing a very heavy book on top of a tall metal birdcage. The cage not only supported the weight of the book, Jenney could see that it could have easily supported a whole stack of books. A stack of books piled high and balancing on a birdcage—what an image.

Jenney introduced the idea of a complete, steel skeleton, and he built the first fully metal-framed skyscraper in Chicago in 1884. Just as his wife used a birdcage to support the weight of a very big book, Jenney used metal columns and beams to support his building from the inside.

This story demonstrates the combined power of shedding a default assumption that weighed people down with making a major conceptual shift, which, in this case, provided architects the strength they needed to build higher.

Many of us face load-bearing assumptions, perhaps about management, strategy, finance, or leadership. For example, you may assume that the economic world is a zero-sum game.

Shedding assumptions is not an easy task because many have served you well in the past, and there is risk in abandoning them. Yet one of the most important skills that you can acquire is a willingness to question your load-bearing assumptions and make a different choice, when necessary. more> https://goo.gl/zR2hFR

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Updates from Aalto University

Launch times draw near for Aalto satellites
By Jaan Praks – The Aalto-2 satellite, designed and built by students, is ready and waiting to be launched inside the Cygnus space shuttle at the Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex in the US.

On 22 March, the shuttle will be launched with an Atlas V booster rocket up to the orbiting international space station, where the astronauts will release it later to orbit independently.

Aalto-2 will take part in the international QB50 Mission, the aim of which is to produce the first ever comprehensive model of the features of the thermosphere, the layer between the Earth’s atmosphere and space. Dozens of satellites constructed in different countries will also be part of the mission.

Construction of the Aalto-2 satellite began in 2012 as a doctoral project when the first students graduated as Masters of Science in Technology after working on the Aalto-1 project.

Since the start of the Aalto-1 project in 2010 and the Aalto-2 project two years later, around a hundred new professionals have been trained in the space sector. The impact is already visible in the growth of space sector start-up companies. more> https://goo.gl/yKLrez

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Nature’s Way to Relieve Stress Inspires Designs for Nearly Indestructible Bridges

By Elizabeth Montalbano – Emeritus Professor Wanda Lewis in the School of Engineering at the University of Warwick has been studying how nature relieves stress for 25 years, taking an approach called “form-finding,” a process of shaping an object, or a structure, by loads applied to it

This process is different than engineering methods that start from an assumed shape and then check the stresses and displacements in a structure under an applied load, she said.

Form-finding enables the design of rigid structures that follow a strong natural form, structures that are sustained by a force of pure compression or tension without bending stresses, Lewis said. These stresses are the main points of weakness in structures and what causes bridges to fail or buckle under weight or stress and cause damage or even collapse.

“In form-finding, we go in the opposite direction — the shape of the structure is not known initially, it is found by the application of load and involves repetitive calculations to find a shape that is in equilibrium with all forces,” she said. more> http://goo.gl/xHtqjI

Updates from GE

Everything is Bigger in Texas, but These New Gas Turbines Up the Ante

GE – Harriet, whose real name is the 9HA, is the largest and most efficient gas turbine in the world.

GE spent more than $1 billion to develop the turbines. The company built a special testing center in Greenville, where engineers are currently putting the first Harriet through tests.

The turbine, which was manufactured at a GE plant in Belfort, France, is equipped with more than 3,000 sensors. They collect mechanical, temperature and exhaust data, and feed it to a brand new data-crunching center next door.

Under the hood, Harriet combines designs and materials originally developed by GE scientists for supersonic jet engines and other advanced technology. They include aerodynamic blades made from single-crystal alloys, thermal barrier coatings and ceramic matrix composites. Later generations of the turbine will also include 3D-printed parts. more> http://tinyurl.com/m2np8km

Updates from GE

The Century-Old Panama Canal is Opening Up to a Busy Future

GE – The Panama Canal is a full century old, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t grow. The 48-mile-long landmark that cuts across “the backbone of the Western Hemisphere” is going through the final year of a massive expansion. When work is completed in 2015, new locks will allow giant “New Panamax” class of container ships and supertankers through and boost the canal’s capacity by half.

In 1914, the canal used 500 GE motors to operate the locks, with 500 more installed elsewhere in the system. GE also built the power plants that provided the canal with electricity and designed the centralized control equipment for the locks.

One historian noted that GE “produced about half the electrical equipment needed during construction and virtually all of the permanent motors, relays, switches, wiring and generating equipment. They also built the original locks towing locomotives and all of the lighting.”

Those 40 electric towing locomotives were made in Schenectady, NY. Since ships were not permitted to pass through the locks under their own power, these “lock mules” rode on rails next to the canal and pulled them through the locks. Custom gears and electrical design allowed them to run as slow as 1 mph, the speed required for gently tugging large vessels. more> http://tinyurl.com/kuvm694

Peter Thiel, founder of Paypal, invests $1.24 million to create floating micro-countries

By Elizabeth Flock – The Seasteading Institute, an organization founded in 2008 by Milton Friedman’s grandson Patri Friedmanthat facilitates the creation of sovereign, mobile communities in international waters.

The micro-countries Peter Thiel, Paypal founder, proposes are diesel-powered, moveable, 2,000-ton structures built on oil rig-like platforms, with space for 270 residents to live.

Thiel believes these islands may be important in “experimenting with new ideas for government,”such as no welfare, no minimum wage, fewer weapons restrictions, and looser building codes. more> http://is.gd/KUf9OK