on the World Trade Center in
the December issue of ASEE Prism is very well written, but I really
must comment on one of the statements.
What would our great cities like Chicago, New York, and San Francisco
look like without the mixture of short buildings, tall buildings, stadiums,
and long-span bridges?
In a word,
they would look like Paris. In my humble opinion, that's not a bad alternative
to the abysmal concrete canyons that are part and parcel of the skyscraper
to the author, I realize that he was trying to wrap
up a very concise description of the circumstances that caused the failure
of the World Trade Center towers, but there is a beauty associated with
limited building elevations that should not be categorically denigrated.
he wrote a very nice article and I appreciated reading it.
Professor Emeritus, Engineering Technology
University of Southern Indiana
to let you know that I enjoyed reading the article Why They Fell
in the December 2001 issue of Prism.
President, Professor, Electrical Engineering
National Chi Nan University
Regarding the article, Why They Fell, published in December,
2001, I am puzzled about the exterior steel columns. The writer says
they were 14 square inches; I interpreted this to mean that they had
a cross-sectional area of 14 square inches. Later, he says that the
exterior tube was 14 inches thick. This leads me to believe that I misinterpreted
Professor Emeritus, Chemical Engineering
State University of New York at Buffalo
of the exterior columns were indeed square. The references that I used
for the article, Engineering News Record (ENR), and Multistory
Buildings in Steel by Hart, Henn, and Sontag, mention dimensions
ranging from 14 x 14 inches to 17 x 17 inches. Given the fact that the
article was not intended to be a forensic analysis of the collapse,
I chose the smaller dimension. Of course, both of these numbers are
approximate since they are second-hand (the structural drawings were
is right about the dimensions of the columns. The correct statement
should read 14 inches square. This was an unfortunate transposition
of words that mean two entirely different things.
Civil & Environmental Engineering
you so much for writing about the book and work of Robert Moses in Moses
and His Five Commandments in the December 2001 issue. I read
his book this summer and, while I found it didn't, as the reviewer said,
have enough on the math stuff, I cannot get the book out of my mind.
I think Moses is so right about knowledge of algebra being the equivalent
of voting rights, and I think he is so right about the methods he is
I am chair
of the department of engineering at a Hispanic-serving institution and
I am certain that these same attitudes and teaching methods are what
we should be using in our local area.
thank you very much for calling the attention of ASEE readers to this
book and these ideas.
University of Southern Colorado
October 2001 Prism article (Under
the Magnifying Glass), Alvin Sanoff writes of some of the
problems attendant on ABET certification. I would like to add my view
with respect to this process. The Accreditation Board for Engineering
and Technology (ABET), as its Web site makes clear, is an organization
with two general purposes. On the one hand, it serves to accredit programs
in engineering and technology. On the other hand, it has a mission to
act as a driving force for innovation and improvement in engineering
education. These are both worthy aims but they should not be pursued
by the same organization. There is a conflict of interest between them.
only wants to improve engineering education but has a particular view
of how the improvement should be achieved. Since the same organization
has the right to decide whether a program is acceptable or not, it is
clear that, in effect, it forces all of us to adopt the same view of
how engineering education should be made better.
that it knows how we should do our job and will make sure that we do
it their way. While it is true that its ideas are very good (as well
as fashionable), they are not the only good ideas. It is outrageous
that an organization whose role is to accredit engineering programs
should force us all into the same mold
presentation of these ideas, including illustrative examples, is included
in Web Extra.
Professor, Materials Science and Engineering