A professional presentation
I read Richard G. Weingardt, P.E.’s September  column ["Dressing for engineering success," page 54], and as a young man (32) who always wears a tie and sport jacket or a suit to an office full of polo shirts, I appreciate it. I believe that this column—and indeed all his columns—are having a significant, positive impact on our profession. Thank you.
Matthew A. Danza, P.E.
Response from Richard G. Weingardt, P.E.
Thank you for your kind words … and for letting me know that you are dressing like an engineer who has great pride in himself and his work. I’m sure you’ll be a most successful leader in engineering, increasingly more so every year.
The way you dress (and are groomed) indeed indicates what you think of yourself—and whether you feel being an engineer is significant or not. Bottom line, dressing well is a sign that you feel you’re an important member of a true profession. Being careful about how you present yourself coupled with being a top engineer (a skilled engineer) always results in a highly winning combination.
Perpetuating a misconception?
The article "Reducing the risk" [by Steven M. Baldridge, P.E., S.E.; Francis K. Humay, Ph.D., S.E; and S.K. Ghosh, Ph.D.; November 2007, page 24] appears to me to perpetuate the idea that the failure of the World Trade Center Twin Towers was just simply a tragic act of violence. Undeniably, that violent act was the cause; however, the design, although code compliant (as we have been led to believe), was decidedly lacking in terms of progressive collapse mitigation. In my view, the building design weakness was that with closely spaced exterior columns and no coherent structural frame (hence, no redundancy) it collapsed in the classic manner of a bearing wall building. Such buildings are notorious for collapses.
It may be that it is not economically feasible to design a building that can withstand the impact and ensuing fire from a large commercial jet liner. This design was uncharacteristically weak for a major structure.
James E. Bihr
[In response to Richard G. Weingardt, P.E.’s December 2007 column, "The need for adequate field experience," page 50] Boy, has [he] hit the nail on the head! It’s been a cry of mine for over 60 years now. I learned very early that No. 4 bars are easily displaced, so except for ties I refuse to use less than No. 5s. Also, I don’t care what the design cut-off lengths for vertical dowels are as long as they end higher than a man’s waist. Of course, now we have plastic caps, but after you’ve witnessed someone pinned on a No. 8 dowel, the lesson stays with you.
In my youth, when we could still have some authority over contractors, I learned a lot inspecting high steel in Manhattan with hot rivets and Mohawk Indians, concrete slabs, form work, etc. No one should try to design anything before experiencing the field with a good mentor to steer him.
John K. Bright, P.E.