Professional and Career Topics

  • 1.  Buckminster Fuller's Engineering Contributions

    Posted 11-22-2021 10:08 AM
    Buckminster Fuller was a generalist and did not quite fit the titles that we think of as an architect, engineer, inventor, mathematician, or scientist.  As I have begun reading about him, it seems that his work is not entirely considered in academic circles, despite his lecture tours.  My understanding is that his writing style (full of run-ons and made up words), interpretation that his work has socialist undertones, and abandonment of Euclidean geometry made his concepts difficult to integrate with traditional curriculum.  Fuller is best know for his work a a designer and promoter of the geodesic dome as nature's most efficient structure.

    Did you ever meet Fuller or attend one his lectures?  What were his greatest contributions as an engineer and designer?

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    Chad Morrison P.E., F.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI
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  • 2.  RE: Buckminster Fuller's Engineering Contributions

    Posted 11-29-2021 07:08 PM

    When I was a 2nd year freshman(!), I started Cal Poly in 1951 in the Architectural Engineering program.  As part of the freshman class one Saturday, we assembled the first geodesic dome on the west coast.  The dome was designed and fabricated by five senior students for their senior project.  https://polycanyon.calpoly.edu/history/geodesic-dome. Note that the article dates are different than mine - but I was there.  It was quite an easy assembly. The seniors supplied the pipes, the plates and all of the bolts and the freshman supplied the labor.  The site for this structure was in the Arch lab parking lot. One Saturday night a few years later at about midnight, a bunch of aggies tried to steal the dome. They got one end on the tail gate of a pickup before someone in the Arch lab discovered them and ran them off. That lab is famous for all night engineering and architectural activities. There was always plenty of coffee.

     

    I attended two lectures by Bucky at Poly.  Each time the auditorium was filled and it was one of the most inspiring times for me.  In my senior year, some architectural seniors collaborated with Bucky for a master plan for the city of Seaside, near Monterey. The students had recorded all of his comments and would play then over and over in the lab - to the annoyance of the other students.  Frank Lloyd Wright was still alive at that time and practically the whole arch-engr school listened to him on the radio in the lab. It was startling that he started his talk by saying that all of the architecture schools were bad!

    Neil Moore, PE, SE, Life Member ASCE and IEEE

    neil moore and associates

    shingle springs, california

    50th year

     

     



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    Neil Moore P.E., S.E., M.ASCE
    President
    Neil Moore & Assoc
    Shingle Springs CA
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  • 3.  RE: Buckminster Fuller's Engineering Contributions

    Posted 08-02-2022 10:06 AM
    Thank you @Neil Moore for sharing your experience!  I knew there would be a member who encountered Bucky!  I wanted to share my new addition to my summer reading list:

    Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller: Nevala-Lee, Alec: 9780062947222: Amazon.com: Books

    A new biography is being released today, so it is a great time to get reacquainted with Bucky's work.  I think his biggest impact is reminding us to keep an open mind and look at the world from in the general sense before getting into the details rather than the other way around. ​

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    Chad Morrison P.E., F.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI
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  • 4.  RE: Buckminster Fuller's Engineering Contributions

    Posted 08-08-2022 11:54 AM
    He had the motivation of a body of general knowledge and the daring, just lacked an engineering staff. The car Buckminster designed and built was representative of a lot of his work. A taildragger, like most of the general aviation at the time, the Dymaxion car, had the low speed ground maneuverability conventional cars didn't, but at high speed the rear wheel steering was a little dicey for the average driver to handle safely. Bucky did have a collection of speeding tickets he managed to get while driving the car cross country to promote it, so it could be done. It would make an interesting a training vehicle for pilots mastering ground maneuvers with a steerable tail wheel. If it was meant to be a first step to a flying car, it was never followed up on.

    "Dymaxion" - Dynamic, Maximum, Tension was his label for a "Do more with less" approach. That idea is worth the study because he did pursue it in a variety of patents and products that had potential though some were just too far out there. Somewhere in the attic, my ancient copy of the Last Whole Earth Catalog is peppered with articles and references to him and his lectures. I always liked the dome idea, though trying to get a sub to bid on roofing one was another matter. Maybe shingles aren't all that efficient anyway, used ones when ground up for recycling, do make good road building material. The stamped stainless steel complete restroom idea he patented might fascinate some tiny house people.

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    William Bala P.E., S.E., M.ASCE
    Owner
    Hawkins TX
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