Rated 5 out of 5 by BGZRedux Extraordinary; Wonderful; Superbly Taught
Civil Engineering is fascinating, often stunningly so. Who knew?
Certainly not me, until I took Professor Ressler's "Understanding Greek and Roman Technology," and now this course. Both have 5/5 ratings and 100% recommendations, an extraordinary record, but fully deserved.
This course, in comparison with "Understanding Greek and Roman Technology," places somewhat more emphasis on the underlying engineering and scientific principles. For someone who loves science, like myself, this is a plus. Even if you don't, however, it is done so clearly and gently that I think you will consider it a strong positive.
The majority of the course then applies these principles to an understanding of, well, many of the world's greatest structures, enabling us to peer beyond the aesthetics to appreciate just as deeply their structure and its function, and the remarkable innovations and imaginations which made these possible. I hasten to add - the beauty is also fully acknowledged; understanding the underlying structure and principles only enhances our appreciation.
As for our professor, I can only repeat my comments from my review of his other course: Professor Ressler is remarkable. His boundless enthusiasm is fortunately matched by his knowledge, his organization, his straightforward eloquence, and his ability to explain a technical field in a way that is engaging, comprehensible, and actually makes you want to learn more.
The computer simulations and the physical models which Professor Ressler has constructed himself are all wonderful and often stunning.
This course has my highest recommendation for anyone with any intellectual curiosity, even if you don't have a prior interest in the subject. And, as a side benefit, it provides a deep appreciation for the extraordinary technical and engineering imagination and achievements of those who lived centuries to millenia ago, as well as for the continuing innovations to our own time.
July 26, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by wxman An Exceptional Course!!!
The universal acclaim this course has received says it all. Those accolades are well-deserved for this is a truly outstanding course.
The presentation is excellent. Professor Ressler moves about the stage during his delivery but the camera follows him well. He is animated and enthusiastic. His voice is clear and his style concise. His love for structural engineering is obvious. He reduces structural complexity into basics, explains them, and then uses them to reconstruct the original complex structure. It is a structural engineering course for the lay person.
As many others have pointed out, it is the models that set this course apart. Structural design all boils down to mathematics and physics…and a structural engineering course would be loaded with both. The professor does briefly discuss the math and physics but then moves on to explain those principles visually. He could have relied solely on graphics but chose not to. Instead, he constructed working models to demonstrate those principles. Seeing is believing and those models make math an unnecessary prerequisite to the understanding of structure. A picture may be worth a thousand words but, in this course, a functioning model is worth a thousand pictures. Rest assured this course delivers on its promise. You will understand structure.
Those models Ressler constructed are works of craftsmanship and some are quite detailed. His preparation time for this course must have been huge.
Not only will you understand the engineering of the world’s greatest structures, but as a bonus, you will get a visual tour of them…buildings, bridges, and monuments. There’s history here also. You’ll learn how an ever-developing understanding of structural methods and material allowed for engineering advances from the Egyptian pyramids to the modern skyscraper.
Even if you feel you have no interest in the subject matter, I still recommend this course. The presentation and material are so good that they will likely create that interest. That is the skill of a master instructor and I believe Professor Ressler to be one. I would hope that he provides a fit for a future TGC course. I, myself, was interested in the subject matter beforehand and was doubly rewarded by being treated to one of the best courses TGC has ever produced.
December 7, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by NYNM WOW! One good course!
I am very impressed, starting with the first few minutes.
Although the course is about engineering, the prof actually starts with poetry! He reads Walt Whitman's poem on engineering. He reads from Vetruvius, references , discusses and shows models and photos of the Brooklyn Bridge, The SIstine Chapel, The CN tower in Toronto, the longest bridge in the world, in Japan, Scittish and Spanish bridges, Eiffel Tower and the White House. He presents the importance of Form Function and Structure.
Oh, and this is in the first 20 minutes!
Ressler has an excellent presentation style, very lively, enthusiastic, actually not "geeky." He seems experienced to speaking to "lay" audiences and is thereore quite accessible. Yet, this DVD would delight higher level science and engineering buffs. The way Ressler includes issues like history, culture, and the arts integrated with engineering is exciting.
However, he doesn't just show pretty stuctures, the lecturer has many tabletop models where he explains the working principles of engineering. You learn about properties of concrete, iron and steel, arch, suspension and cantilever bridges, accounting for wind, load, curvature, buckling and tension. He explains how columns, trusses, domes, arches, beams and and parabolas work and which are best for which function. Thus you learn mechanics as well as aesthetics. And there are extensive case studies, contextualization of history, materials and design. There is even a bit of math and science, for those so inclined. The course guidebook contains excellent photos, drawings, quizzes, and challenges.
You will learn so much, and be entertained. And you wil think. And you will notice engineering in the world around you in your daily life.
This is one of my favorites, and I have over 100 courses!!
May 27, 2011
Rated 5 out of 5 by algorithmguy One of the very best I have seen
As a retired structural analyst, I was worried after the first three lectures that this would only be a simplistic strength of materials course. Boy was I wrong. It turned out to be one of the most interesting I have had the privilege to view. The excellent professor uses many physical models (that he built) to demonstrate the basic concepts of external loads, internal load paths and modes of failure in numerous structural shapes. Most of these concepts are presented in such a way that non-engineers can understand. Best of all, he presents many dozens of actual buildings as examples, from 2000 years ago to the present. These graphics are excellent.
These fascinating structures, until quite recently, were mostly designed with only empirical, (gut-level) design parameters. Quantitative methods have only been applied for a century or so. He also shows many examples of terrible failures. Note, that in more than one case, willful arrogance exceeded engineering skill levels! Conversely, there is one remarkable example of an engineer/architect discovering that his finished skyscraper would be vulnerable to a wind load he had not analyzed. His wise admission allowed for structural modifications that may have prevented a disaster! This course is best if you have some understanding of algebra, but even that is not absolutely necessary.
July 9, 2016