Not Just The Boy Scouts

by Don Friedman on March 16, 2018

Part of the operations management of a city is preparing for crises that never come. Tuesday’s snow storm was, as is visible in this picture, underwhelming. But that’s a salt-spreader truck with a plow, parked almost in front of the Skyscraper Museum, waiting for the call that didn’t happen.

Someone’s Got To Build It

February 15, 2018

I was fairly surprised to see this article saying that the number of construction workers in the city decreased in 2016. Construction in the city has been at high levels for years, which means construction workers have steady gigs, which traditionally has meant an increase in the number of people in the field. The article […]

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Response to a Manifesto

January 31, 2018

Old Structures is an engineering firm, not an architecture firm; our technical employees are all engineers. That said, we work with architects every day and the two professions are closely related and to some degree mirror images of each other. The Architecture Lobby Manifesto therefore resonates a great deal with me. The text at the […]

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Professional Engineer, but Forever a Student

January 12, 2018

  Sometime during my fall quarter as a freshman engineering student, I learned that there would be a test at the end of all of this, The Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Exam. Back then it seemed like such a ways off, but it registered to me as a personal goal that would ultimately […]

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The ASCE Infrastructure Report Card

January 9, 2018

Every year, the American Society of Civil Engineers puts out a report card on the state of the nation’s infrastructure. That’s last year’s summary above, and the link has the details. What does it mean to say that our infrastructure is somewhere between mediocre and poor? Many of the areas of concern are less important […]

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A Certain Amount of Cloudy Irony

December 16, 2017

We’ve recently completed moving nearly all of our electronic operations to the cloud. Of course, that means it’s time for an Internet outage, and we had one yesterday. The heat map shows service failures for our ISP: My ideas about back-up partially worked. The bad news is that we lost a lot of productive time […]

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Better Demographics

November 17, 2017

I’ve recently read two articles that superficially are on different topics but go together well: Curbed on Tiffany Brown encouraging architectural careers for African-American women, and at the other end of the social spectrum, the Harvard Business Review on the benefits of diversity. The issues in engineering are similar in effect but different in detail from […]

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Privacy and Collaboration

November 10, 2017

It seems like everywhere I turn I’m finding another article on the downside of open office layouts. In one sense this doesn’t matter to us: we’re less than a year into an eight-year lease, so we’re pretty much stuck with what we’ve got, which is a group of semi-private rooms. Despite the lack of a […]

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Catching Up On People

November 8, 2017

Two interesting articles on firms and employees: on office manuals and new employees, and on emerging professionals. Linking to them is my way of saying that I’ve neglected talking about people for a while and we’ve been hiring. Our new people, in alphabetical order, are: Tawhid Chowdhury, who has a Bachelors of Civil Engineering from […]

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Fire and Information

October 28, 2017

I have nothing to add to this interview other than I found it to be a fascinating read. Fire fighting isn’t just about putting out fires, it’s about learning how to prevent them and how to reduce the risks they cause. 

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