Watch the Construction of the new Cooper River Bridge


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

Overview. As a pointy-headed university professor, my weekend project of bridge photography and building these web pages generated many questions and introduced me to 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.

Learning usually requires repetition while forgetting occurs when I infrequently use information. Many young learners do not understand the importance of repetition. Weekly visits to the bridge provided the repetition necessary to detect changes in the bridge and consequently generated many questions and opportunities for learning. Over the course of the bridge project, I had access to few experts for answering questions. Rather than a liability, this became an asset and pushed me to improve my search skills with Google. Soon, I found that answers to questions encountered during my weekly photo shoots were often only a Google-search away - (see Restoring the Joy in Learning). Consequently Google + Internet became dependable extensions of my memory.

The bridge story is a work in progress and is evolving from a simple collections of photographs to an experiment with Internet-centric just-in-time learning. Insights I gain from you will find their way into the learning centers of MUSC. Palmetto Bridge Constructors, a joint venture between Tidewater Skanska and Flatiron Constructors, as well as High Steel Structures, Freyssinet, the SCDOT and the Federal Highway Commission Office of Bridge Technology guided much of my learning. I also learn from many of you and from Google-linked resources. More important is the e-mail encouragement I receive from many of you.

Sun, 24 Apr 2005

April 24, 2005: Closing the loop

Way back in January, when there was a gap separating the east and west main spans, I took a photo of the crane used to lift edge and floor girders from barges to the deck and then hold them in place while the iron workers attached the splice plates.

Here is the "Last Dinosaur Standing" as seen from the old Pearman bridge. (Click to see the story about Philip and the Last Dinosaur Standing.) Yesterday I was taking some photos of the main span paving and two guys walked up and started talking - they were Philip and Lewis. Philip, I sort of knew because of email from his mom and wife. I had never met Lewis but had watched Lewis (and Jack) attach the splice plates that linked the north side of the east and west edge girders - thus bridging the gap.

But yesterday was special. I was able to meet both of them, talk a bit and for me, close the loop from distant observer to acquaintance. This closes another gap, the people gap, and enables my understanding of the bridge project at both the technical level as well as at the people level.

The bridge project has impressed me from the people perspective. I have come to know many people associated, either locally or remotely, with the building of the new Cooper River Bridge. First Bill Mankin from High Steel Structures, then David Wertz (SCDOT) then Wade Watson (PBC) then Peo Halvarsson (Skanska and PBC), Marvin Tallent (Flatiron and PBC) and Oliver Forget and his Freyssinet team, Wilbur Poole (PBC) and on and on the list goes. Everyone has helped me understand some aspect of our bridge project and has given generously of their time.

Helping me understand different components of bridge building has enabled me to convey what was happening on the main span and approaches with both the local Charleston community as well as our Internet community. What pleases me, from my MUSC perspective, is the opportunity to share the work product of my hyperactive curiosity with other members of the MUSC community as well as young learners outside MUSC (particularly with Jonnell at E. L. Frierson school (Wadmalaw)) - and illustrate the opportunities Google provides for building episodes of "just-in-time" learning. All these lessons help me better understand the IT infrastructure needs at MUSC that facilitate the paradigm shift from "just-in-case" learning (that is compromised by the the biology of the forgetting process) and "just-in-time" learning (which is much more immune to the forgetting process). The real winner is MUSC which now, thanks to my bridge friends, has a rather unconventional source of new insights into learning in general and Internet-centric learning in particular.

posted at: 15:31 | path: | permanent link to this entry

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