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 4 out of 5 by Reader Very good indeed!
My perspective is that of one who has nearly no experience in, or aptitude for, the subject matter of this course: I definitely struggle with math and physics. I do have great interest in buildings, however, and thus my decision to try this course. I'm VERY glad I did.
However, though otherwise excellent, the course fails to adequately address the important topic of foundations. (At least one earlier reviewer made the same comment.) I wish Professor Ressler had taught more specifically about this facet of buildings.
Also, it required some effort and discipline on my part to get through the first several lectures--the ones introducing necessary points of math and physics. I knew they were necessary--and they seemed to be well presented--but I did not enjoy them as much as later lectures.
In any event, nothing I have said here is meant to deter anyone from buying this course! I have watched/heard dozens of the Great Courses, and never have I been more satisfied that I learned something valuable. The professor does an excellent job of explaining things, and his demonstrations are outstanding. Overall, I found myself very interested and engaged.
If you feel yourself bogging down in the early lectures, I advise you to persist. I found the latter lectures to be thoroughly interesting and educational. I am not the least bit sorry for having bought this course.
November 17, 2015