The 200th Post
Turns out I’ve pumped out 200 [Ed. actually this is the 201st post- I was a bit distracted] ill informed opinions into the internet. At 141’176 words Being Brunel had surpassed 20’000 Leagues Under The Sea in length (if not artistic worth). However the cliche “quality over quantity” still hangs over our heads. Thus the question isn’t how prolific my writing has been, but how much it’s been read. So, once again, allow me to share some insight into the 10 posts on Being Brunel that have enjoyed the largest average views a day…
Born from my, somewhat ironic, hatred of extended writing. I put preDict (my predictive text program for word) together before I’d really started programming professionally. I used it for a good few years, where it taught me that I use certain phrases with depressing frequency. It’s nice to see that I still get a good chunk of visitors every day looking for this solution- maybe I should give it some love one day…
Having captured the imagination of Reddit; it’s hard to imagine that I’ll ever write a post that will see such traffic again. The internet is a remarkable place, and I was pretty impressed with the level of scrutiny my thrown-together hypothesis was subjected to. It was this that led me to start thinking about how engineers communicate, and led to the post on the words engineers use to annoy each other.
I still can’t decide it it’s a good or a bad thing that this post remains popular long after it was written. It’s a shame that so many people are turning to Google to find out if Civil Engineering is boring. However, I’m heartened that they’re finding their answer (spoiler alert, it’s no) from a blog that sets out to celebrate the built environment and those that engineer it.
Do you know what I learned from this article about snowmen? That people are surprisingly opined about the number of balls that make up a snowman. I’ve yet to go back and see what happens if I insist my tallest snowman be made of three balls instead of two; although from researching the article I can say that it won’t be clear cut…
One thing I learned fairly quickly into my foray with engineering is that knowing the answer before you start is exceptionally useful. And it’s something that you don’t get taught at university. Yes- experience helps, but there are a good few shortcuts out there to help you approximate a target before you sit down and do some heavy calculations. In fact, a few years after writing this article, I was sent a book to review on just that.
I love a good book. And while the rise of the internet is definitely encouraging me to store most of my knowledge on Google- there’s still few things more satisfying than flicking through a trusty book when you’re in need of a reminder. Although I will admit to only buying three of the books I recommended- the rest were forever borrowed.
This post was the button mashing of finite elements. Unsurprisingly there’s not too much guidance on how to create impacting tetris shapes with enough give to create a satisfying squidge on impact. I remember spending much longer than I really should have done desperately calibrating the material properties and time steps until I finally found something the looked right.
Every now and again I consider doing another one of these; and then I realise that I’m not sure I can name another five. There’s one or two omissions from the list (Locke, any one?), however the initial sentiment rings true today- civil engineers just don’t make the movies. If you haven’t seen it, thought, I would recommend you check out this fantastic sketch attempting to make infrastructure into one.
I’m somewhat heartened by the number of engineers who are starting to look into the opportunities the digital age could mean to them. As the blog follows my own development, I’m hoping to not only instill a sense of what can be achieved by tooling, but also an appreciation of code as an art; that a good programmer can do for a penny, what any amature can do for a pound.
I suppose it is inevitable that this post will always receive attention. When your job title completely fails to describe what you do, it’s only fair that the outside world will wonder “what is a civil engineer?” And although I’d probably never go as far as to suggest we rename the profession, I do think it’s something that holds us back in an already competitive STEM talent market.