Saturday, October 3, 2015

The biggest little bridge built by a awesome guy named Dave

I wrote this a while back and put it in my drafts to publish some day, for some reason it just felt like a good time to post something I wrote maybe a year or two ago....  I really wrote it about a special guy Dave who works at the museum, because he is one of the cornerstones of hands on science museums and its been amazing calling him a mentor of mine. - JT



The things that make the world go round, I think....

Its the reasons I wake up every day and do what I do, I love to use my talents to share with others and open their mind to use their talents and explore farther.

What better place to work and combine all my loves then at the Exploratorium Science Center located in San Francisco... A dream job.... even sweeping the floors at that place is a pleasure... because you can't go a day working there without a smile and a laugh.

We get to build amazing exhibits for people to enjoy and learn about science.

I always tell people " I know I won't get to walk on Mars in my lifetime... but I know that something that I will do in my lifetime will help the person or persons that will do it... I feel like the person that will be part of that landing is a little kid knee high right now, walking around the museum laughing having fun and something that I had a part in will trigger their young minds to love science and when they grow up their love for science will help unlock questions we all wonder and push the envelope of understanding."

I think that if you don't think like that and have some sort of dream or pride of what your doing and how your helping in the overall scheme of things you will never feel the true worth in your work and have the drive to create things that will push the limits... Its to easy to look at the majority and say disheartening things about where we as a human race are headed... but remember their is one in a millions out there... young Elon Musks and young Henry Fords ready to take on the world and change it for the better... dreaming of them learning from your passion will give you a satisfaction you can't describe.

One person that has some sort of a understanding and drive to make the future bright is a guy not many people get to see because hes got his head down and hes working hard to make it happen...

That dude at the Exploratorium I am talking about has almost been there since day one.... that's late 1960s and his name is Dave Fleming the San Francisco legendary exhibit builder and mastermind.
Dave has these goals of building amazing projects and exhibits that not only teach but display and interact in ways of having fun with science that keep kids and adults spending hours and days at science centers across the world...

I don't really know how many exhibits worldwide Dave has made in his lifetime ( but I want to guess 300+) since he started in his late teens at the Exploratorium while still in college working under Frank Oppenheimer . The concept of doing hands on science center for all ages was not even thought of in the 1960s.... as some know this early group of builders get the credit of saying they really build the model of " hands on, interactive science exhibits in a museum environment".

If the Exploratorium would have not planted the science museum seed in the 1960s for the whole world, its makes me wonder what would be different??... This museum was and still is a building block of the San Francisco tech industry that we know around the world today... I think that's a good example to think about. What if there was no young minds learning about relays and magnets at the museum... would we have Iphones today.... would we have Silicon Valleys famous wafers that brought us in to a crazy era of computing.... something to think about.....

The crew like Dave can still be found working around the clock, with his awesome drive and passion for teaching science... Its amazing, I only hope when I have worked 25+ years in a career I have an overwhelming drive like this crew still has for their passion.
This is a normal view of Dave working in the shop around the clock...
From machining to wiring to designing, hes flying around the shop some times power walking because hes so excited to get to the next thing...

One of the cool projects for the new location of the Exploratorium that I got to team up with Dave on was a really neat Bay Bridge model to teach about how the bridge moves. As you can see up above that's Dave and I standing next to the bridge concepts in the movie below.

Dave's concept was to build a small 1/500 sized scale of the bay bridge and it was to be designed to be outside in the salty air on the end of the museum's pier running parallel to the real bay bridge so people could look and shake the model and compare it to the real thing only a mile away to get a better understanding how it moves in the wind and how it moves with load on it. 

Here is a video showing the concepts based on the Golden Gate bridge to understand how to build the bridge and some info about the real bridge, you will get a good idea of the crew of minds behind this project. 

From day one I was pushing for Dave to design some really neat laser cut 316 stainless pieces with lots of details in them, so he did and thanks to Ryan at Seaport stainless it was totally a possibility to make complex little part to look like the real bridge.

The next project was to bend up all the little pieces on my press brake and run them thru the tumbler to make sure everything was kid safe and no sharp parts.

My little DiAcro press brake bending up the laser cut bridge decks.. 

it was a good Saturday afternoon of bending all the decks at my shop.

Once they were all bent up it was time to work on the other parts...
One of Dave's major ideas on the mini Bay Bridge was to show how important the center cement anchorage support is on the bridge so he decided to build a interactive piece to show with and without the support.

Open ( without support )

Closed ( with support as the bridge is in real life )

At the time I had so many exhibits being built in my shop...
But enjoying every second of it...
As you can see, it creates a great picture with the real bridge in the background.

Here is a quick fly by to see all the mini decks once we had it all together

I would defiantly recommend anyone visiting San Francisco to make a stop by the Exploratorium Museum and really see the 400+ interactive exhibits you can play with, truly a awesome a worthwhile experience and trip for all ages.


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