Watch the demolition (unbuilding) of the Grace and Pearman Bridges (old Cooper River Bridges)

The Bridge Blog
A dialog about our new bridge and these web pages

Overview. Schools and universities are all about learning - and learning is mostlly brain training. Learning is expedited by repetition and forgetting is expedited by infrequent use of learned skills or information. Tracking the building of the Ravenel Bridge and now tracking the demolition of the Grace and Pearman Bridges bring many questions to me and help me better understand the role Google and the Internet play in just-in-time learning. I enjoy chasing my curiosity and want to identify ways to encourage younger learners to also enjoy curiosity chasing and learning.

Many young learners do not understand the importance of repetition. More important, while experienced learners understand the learning process they often do not realize the destructive effects of the forgetting process. Over the course of the bridge project, I have access to only a few experts. Rather than a liability, this has become an asset and pushed me to improve my search skills with Google. Soon, I realized that answers to questions encountered during my photo adventures were often only a Google-search away. Gene Stead, my first boss and I put these ideas together in a small essay: (see Restoring the Joy in Learning).

Google + Internet have become dependable extensions of my memory. Insights I gain from you and this project will find their way into the learning centers in our schools and universities.

Sun, 28 Aug 2005

August 28, 2005: My surprise: The skill and precision of demolition

I suppose I always thought that demolition was just another destructive process - that of removing components until all the structure was reduced to a pile of rubble. Was I ever wrong. Watching and talking with the Testa and Jay Cashman guys, I have found that there is skill, precision and a bit of art in their work. Skill to work the giant grapples, jackhammers and shears. Precision in removing segments of the road, cleaning the underlying I-beam surfaces (on the Grace and Pearman bridges) or cutting the rebar that formed the concrete supporting structures along the Grace and Pearman approaches and exits and art - somehow instinctively knowing what and where to apply their what I call, surgical tools.

Just as I learned of the precision (fractions of an inch) required to join the edge girders of the new Ravenel Bridge, I have learned from the Cashman and Testa workers that unbuilding requires similar precision. I was trained as an electrical engineer - where precision was part of the discipline. I suppose I was quite guilty of looking at my civil engineering colleagues as working with precision that was less demanding and "close enough for highway work". Was I ever wrong! I have totally reversed my understanding of demolition over the short month since the demolition of the Grace and Pearman bridges and approaches started. Another demonstration that even at my age (64 next week) - continued learning is possible and even necessary.

posted at: 08:35 | path: | permanent link to this entry

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