I am an outsider to Fritz Laboratory, indeed an outsider to engineering. I came to this project with little knowledge and no idea what to expect. But through this project I have learned–slowly, I must admit–the effects of different structural elements that build the physical world of human society.
The testing depicted in this collection has certainly had its interesting moments–the awesome scale of some of the tests is something to behold. As I worked through the images, I found the engineering increasingly interesting. What really engaged me, though, is the import of the work be done in maintaining the physical structures on which civil society is built.
In this vein, the most interesting element that I came across was a spur dike project examining water flow around dikes in a large water basin. The study was investigating flow patterns left in the sediment at the bottom of the basin. This strikes me as an important study in learning how to best manage bank erosion
and protect low-lying lands from flooding, an issue that is increasingly important in a warming world. This project resonated with me; as I examined the images, I got a picture of ways that wetlands, coastline, and lowland cities can be protected from flooding.
Similarly, we dealt with lots of images of elasticity and plasticity testing, as well as many slides on the subject. As structures undergo stresses, elasticity is the ability of the structures to reform after the stresses have ended, and plasticity refers to a permanent deformation of the materials.
Additionally, plastic design can be used to create structures with the ability to absorb energy and deform without incurring greater stress in doing so. This sort of creative thinking is quite interesting to me, and I am interested in finding more ways that civil engineering is adapting to our world as I continue with the project.
Here are two examples of slides from the project showing plastic design and explaining reasons for its use.
By Tim Morgan