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, 05 Mar 2006

March 5, 2006: Frank's next chapter.

My professional life has centered around the fun of learning and my professional home has always been within universities. Each step of my academic career has been fun and full of surprises - both scientific and cultural. For 32 years I was a faculty member at Duke in the Departments of Medicine (Cardiology) and Computer Science. During this time I was fortunate to stumble on the fun of international collaboration - in France, Germany, Egypt, Spain, the USSR, starting in 1987 in Moscow at the All Union Center for Experimental and Clinical Cardiology. In 1991, I shifted my collaboration to Valentin Krinsky's Autowave laboratory in the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics in Pushchino, about 100 km south of Moscow. In parallel, I extended my experiments with other cultures and taught for a year (1993-94) in India (the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras) and more recently (1997-1998) in Greece (where I was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Patras and most recently, developed a link with the University of Mostar, Bosnia in 2000 and in 2001.

Now I am about to embark on another cultural adventure. The Government of Singapore and Duke University have signed a memorandom of understanding to build a new Graduate Medical School in Singapore. I have signed to be part of the new faculty - led by Pat Casey in Singapore and Sandy Williams at Duke. For Ellen and myself, this is a like a trip back home - putting us within a few hours flight time of our friends in South India, Bangladesh and Thailand. I have signed a 3 year contract and will be the Associate Dean for Learning Technologies - a continuation of my career as an engineer in the setting of Medical Education. In addition, I suspect there will be a new Building web site, tracking the construction of the Duke - GMS building.

The bridge building and unbuilding web sites will continue. With the members of my former IT Lab at MUSC, we have established a server - Butterfat that will act as an Internet home base for these sites, and those of web page to butterfat ( mine and my IT Lab colleagues).

Sparky and the iron workers (Nugget and Speedy) have offered to continue to photograph the progress with unbuilding the Grace and Pearman Bridges. They will send me photos and the stories and I shall try to maintain the continuity of the unbuilding process from Singapore. This will form the core of another Frank Experiment - can we sustain our momentum with participants located half way around the world from each other. In addition, I shall lean on my unbuilding friends at Jay Cashman and Testa - Ken Canty, Ponch Billingsley, Mickey Rogers and Ken Tully at Advanced Blasting Services and the families of Michael Hebb, Richie Bagan and Jack Foley. You cannot imagine how much new life and energy these folks have brought into the lives of Frank and Ellen Starmer in Charleston.

I am certain that there will be building and unbuilding opportunities in Singapore and the surrounding area. For example, Oliver Forget (Freyssinet) is now located in Bangkok and is building a new cable stay bridge there. Marvin Tallent is in Pensacola and Peo Halvarsson is in the process of moving back to Sweden. I shall continue to poke these friends and tell their stories.

posted at: 15:15 | path: | permanent link to this entry

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frank.starmer at

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