Watch the Construction of the new Cooper River Bridge


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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.

Fri, 06 May 2005

May 6, 2005: Exploring digital sketches
There comes a time when simply capturing the action of constructing the new Cooper River Bridge approaches blindly following a recipe - and I try to avoid falling into a rut. I have standard places that I go, standard sets of photos that I take and standard ways to process the images for placement in these web pages - all the ingredients of a rut. Several weeks ago I began experimenting with ways to alter the images so that they took on the characteristics of a sketch. I cannot draw an attractive stick figure, so for me, this was an opportunity to explore something that I was totally incapable of doing on my own.

When I look at a sketch, I see the outlines of objects the artist projects. So I started with processing an image with an edge detection algorithm. These algorithms compute the difference in intensity of adjacent picture elements (pixels). When the intensity difference is small, then the point appears black. When the intensity is large, then the point appears white. Consequently edges (where there is a large intensity difference) will appear as while lines. But an artist sketches with a black pencil, so I inverted the image - white became black and black became white. Because these are color images, edges are computed for each of the three colors - red, green and blue. I then alter the black-white range of intensities so that I get a more balanced image. The results, as seen here, are interesting. Bibi, an art history student at UC Berkeley and friend of our family finds that these transformations bring something new to the art table - an improvement beyond simply copying an artistic style.

posted at: 05:45 | path: | permanent link to this entry

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