Dec 312015

Engineer finds examples of ‘horrific’ construction in tornado wreckage

Someone “tried to nail a steel bottom plate to the concrete,” he said. “There was no connection [between] walls, there was no connection at the roof, and it was simply nailed to the concrete foundation.

Humans have been building structure for probably in excess of fifty thousand years. For most of that time, the structures were little more than igloos and tents and teepees and lean-tos, but somewhere around 6,000 or so years ago we started building permanent structures. In that time we’ve transitioned from simple piles of store to complex multi-story buildings of steel and concrete; in order to do that, we had to learn *how* to build such things. There is a science to it, an engineering to it, a set of math for it. There is, in the typically stern STEM worldview, right and many wrong ways to build buildings. And it appears that the chuckleheads who built some of the buildings trashed in the recent tornadoes decided to not bother with those 6,000 years of science and engineering. For reasons of greed, or laziness, or ignorance, or arrogance, or just plain stupidity, the builders apparently chose to go in a different direction. They are to structural engineers what faith healers are to doctors, what lunatics who think they’re superheros capable of flight are to aeronautical engineers. And yet many people still believe that STEM is over-rated, that what we need are more people who live in fluffy muddle-headedness:

Old Navy Doesn’t Want Your Kids to Become Artists

 Posted by at 4:17 pm
  • Noah Baudie

    Doan choo be rayciss, mang. Paco and Pedro, dey just here to build de stuff Americans won’t.

  • Phil

    I saw the Old Navy T-shirts. I am too old and tired to be offended by them. But I did think of of Alan Bean, Story Musgrave, Nicole Stott, Alexei Leonov, and Vladimir Dzanibekov. There are other people on this list that I’m not aware of. Also, I wonder how many engineers and scientists were inspired to enter their fields by artwork or science fiction they encountered while they grew up.

  • Adam

    >>Except lots of people with critical thinking skills sharpened primarily via STEM training fall for all sorts of nonsense ideological nonsense, ranging from libertarianism to fundamentalist terrorism. I personally have talked to highly trained STEM experts who can’t recognize fallacious argument, and fall for absurd assertions because they don’t have a robust understanding of history, society, or human nature.

    This comment makes me so mad…

    • James

      The problem isn’t stem training or not its HOW you teach kids and adults. If all you do is give them the answers to the test then all they learn is how to pass the test. If you teach the to THINK then you teach them to mainly think for themselves.

      I think thats the biggest thing that helps or hinders people in school and life.

  • sferrin

    When your employees don’t speak English it’s easier to just point-and-shoot with a nail gun than try to teach them something more complicated.

    • Rodrigo

      Bingo. Checking out the local hardware stores, the most obvious language on the power tool boxes is spanish. When I see construction crews in LA, they are 90 percent latino. A significant part of the housing boom (before the bust) was low cost construction labor via illegals. But more to the point, shoddy construction is a function of lack of local construction codes than STEM education.

      • Doug Pirhana

        In tornado country you have pretty stringent codes, the catch is making sure they’re followed.
        But a bigger issue is the push for the lowest cost possible on construction by awarding to the lowest bidder. Most of the time the construction drawings and documents are thorough to avoid any shortcuts, the material costs are largely the same between all bidders, the only way they can save money is on labor.

        So if they shave off a few days here and there that can mean the difference between an ok profit and none at all. Course there’s the other issue of companies bidding at or below their cost, hoping to make it up in time or on change orders.

      • Scottlowther

        > shoddy construction is a function of lack of local construction codes than STEM education

        I don’t think there’s anywhere in the US lacking adequate construction codes; the codes were not enforced or ignored. The codes are a result of engineering assessment. So the builders are ignoring the lessons of engineering.

  • Phil

    Who’s going to get prosecuted and locked up for not following building codes ? If the answer is no-one, then there’s your problem, right there.

  • xvdougl

    Good Dilbert thread starting December 26th.