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Understanding the World's Greatest Structures: Free Video Lecture on Great Thin-Shell Structures

Taught by Professor Stephen Ressler Ph.D., Lehigh University, United States Military Academy at West Point

Download this Video (requires Quicktime)

Great Thin-Shell Structures

The dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The Zeiss-Planetarium in Germany. The Madrid Hippodrome in Spain. The Sydney Opera House in Australia. These and other structures are more than just architectural masterpieces. They’re works of engineering genius that highlight one of the field’s most important elements: a thin shell.

Made from just about any material (but mostly concrete since the 1920s), thin shells emphasize the majesty of a structure while offering a wealth of support that seems inconsistent with their thin nature. In thin-shell structures, aesthetic beauty and structural strength derive from exactly the same source: the curved shape of the shell. And it’s this perfect form of marriage and structure that makes seeing and understanding thin-shell structures so uniquely satisfying.

In Great Thin-Shell Structures—Strength through Curvature, you learn

  • the mathematics and engineering science behind the success of thin-shell structures;
  • the historical development of thin-shell structures in their various forms; and
  • where you can see some of the best examples of these magnificent buildings for yourself.

Watch this free video lecture to witness the engineering genius that goes into some of the world’s greatest structures!

Great Thin-Shell Structures—Strength through Curvature is delivered by Professor Stephen Ressler. For more than 15 years, Dr. Ressler has taught at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he is Professor of Civil Engineering. A member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, he has been awarded the President’s Medal and the Outstanding Projects and Leaders Award. Professor Ressler is also a principal instructor for the Excellence in Civil Engineering Education Teaching Workshop, which has trained more than 500 civil engineering faculty members from more than 200 colleges and universities.