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Way back in 1982, in the beginning of my postsecondary education, I took a course that I still remember:
Tech 152, taught by Dr. Ernest Savage.
During that semester, Dr. Savage showed us the PBS Connections series, as he taught us all about the ancient foundations of modern technologies.
And we discussed issues like technology traps, which are caused when we create technologies that we then come to rely on so heavily that we could die if they ever fail.
One of our homework assignments was to build a bridge from one sheet of manila folder paper. Each student’s bridge had to span a specific distance — 12 inches, if I remember correctly — and carry as much weight as possible, compared to its own weight.
On the day the assignment was due, we then took turns testing our bridges until they failed, to see whose bridge had the biggest ratio of supported weight vs. bridge weight.
It looked a lot like this:
My bridge was a simple i-beam, which I created by laminating several layers of folder paper. It held a lot of weight, but it also weighed a lot itself.
I got an “A” on it anyway.
In fact, after seeing our creations, Dr. Savage gave every single one of us an “A.”
Later that semester, he told me that I should really seriously consider becoming a college professor.
So I did.
Thank you for changing my life, Dr. Savage.
Looking back at the whole experience, I know that you were actually the best bridge builder in the class.
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