Thursday, March 15, 2018

A Sign of Engineering No Longer Dominated by White Heterosexual Men?

3/15/18 Miami Herald:
A pedestrian bridge under construction collapsed Thursday less than a week after crews dropped the elevated span in place over the Tamiami Trail in an effort to provide Florida International Univeristy students a safe route across the busy roadway.
The bridge, scheduled to be completed in 2019, collapsed atop an unknown number of people and cars underneath. Police quickly closed the road. It is not known how many people may have been injured in the collapse, which was clearly a major failure of a on-going project not expected to be completed until early 2019.
South Florida’s WSVN reported that several people had been killed. Television news helicopters were ordered to back off so rescuers could listen for sounds from survivors....
Touted as an “instant bridge,” the 950-ton pedestrian walkway was installed in a single morning at Southwest 109th Avenue on Saturday, intended eventually to link Florida International University’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus directly to the small suburban city of Sweetwater, where the university estimates 4,000 of its students live. 


  1. With all the comments that this bridge ushers in new technology, I already wonder if it was not only built by the lowest bidder, but built using foreign engineering workers (H-1bs). We have been having a lot of major building fiascos lately, many of which show signs of at least a lack of basic engineering skills.

    Here in Dallas we have the Margaret McDermontt bridge, which is said to be flawed and its cables seriously vibrate in heavy winds (shades of Tacoma Narrows). They have had to make modifications, but the bridge is still closed to traffic. The bridge was designed by a Spanish designer who someone on the city council liked his previous bridges. In short more artistic then functional.

  2. This is exactly what you're suspecting it is, per this didn't age well article yesterday (and archive for when it gets memory holed). Here's how it starts:

    Twelve-year-old Michelle Flores shared a special moment with her family at FIU this past Saturday: She and her sister Gabriela joined their parents, FIU alumni Leonor and Henry Flores MIS ’01....

    Leonor Flores ’98 is a project executive.... She was excited to share her work with her family, especially Michelle, who is interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in school.

    [ Daughter says how interesting all this is, ending with "the math portion of it".]

    Said Leonor: “It’s very important for me as a woman and an engineer to be able to promote that to my daughter, because I think women have a different perspective. We’re able to put in an artistic touch and we’re able to build, too.”

    [end quotes]

    Or not. One of the firms building it, per their LinkedIn page:

    MCM (Munilla Construction Management) is a family owned Construction Company specialized in General Building and Heavy Civil Construction with vast expertise building educational facilities over the last 30 years. MCM is the 7th largest Hispanic Owned contractor in the United States as ranked by Hispanic Business Magazine – 2012 and it employs over 700 personnel worldwide with a staff of roughly 200 employees in Miami-Dade County. MCM is ISO 9001 Certified and it’s also a member of the United States Green Building Council.

  3. That's the most inane headline I've ever seen you post.

  4. I'm sure you by now know that the engineering firm that designed the bridge, known for its "signature" aesthetic designs, is headed by Linda Figg.

    I'm not sure if your post is meant to be a specific accusation that they prioritized feelings over math in this project, thus leading to the collapse.

  5. It gets better, they've now added this to the article I linked to, but didn't change any of the text (did a comparison with EMACS to see if any of it had been memory holed):

    UPDATE, March 16, 2018, 11 a.m.: To clarify, Leonor Flores did not work on the FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity Bridge project in any capacity.

  6. Not a specific accusation; just horror at how diversity is taking over serious fields.

  7. Turns out Linda Figg's firm wins bids by emphasizing art over function; from a Heavy article that has its usual good "5 Fast Facts" about the firm:

    Linda Figg, CEO of Figg Bridges, explained in an interview with Founders Club why the company’s slogan is “Creating Bridges as Art.” She said that when the company was first started, the Federal Highway Administration had a program that required any bridge that cost over $10 million to have an alternate design. Figg focused on creating those alternate designs, and over time began to win awards for aesthetics.

    “They were winning awards for aesthetics because the economy, elegance, and efficiency of the design and the streamlined shapes were creating great beauty. So over time, we added the slogan: ‘Creating bridges as art,’ because it’s the art of the science and the aesthetic; everything goes into the art of the bridge. … We like to think of the bridges as sculptural works of art that are also economical, quick to build, and low-maintenance, so they have the total package. … We believe that the quality of life in a community is represented by the infrastructure that people see there.”

    There's quite a bit more in the article, including how this fulfills a childhood dream of hers, a link to another interview, and it starts with something I'd not yet heard, about cracks observed before it fell.

  8. Add this event to what the Feminists are saying about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and the headline makes perfect sense.

    If they wanted an instant bridge, what-- No Skid Bailey bridges were available on the military surplus market?