Golden Gate Bridge, and Beyond


A month or so ago, I mentioned that I not only visited the Golden Gate Bridge, I also heard from an engineer I met that his favorite toy as a kid was a model of that bridge.

Another story from this engineer was that when he was a child, he and his brother would talk their dad into visiting really cool sites on vacations. But, remember, this kid’s favorite toy was a model of a bridge. So, on their vacations, they planned around stops to power plants, dams, landmark bridges, and maybe even a really neat wastewater treatment facility.

Some kids would love to plan their vacations so they could visit zoos, circuses, amusement parks, or some other temporarily fun-filled adventure. But a future engineer understands that a good vacation is one where the fun lasts for a lifetime, or at least a career.

If you have a child with engineering leanings, I will share this fact with you. Factory tours and visits to water treatment facilities are fascinating.

Toy for the Future Engineer

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I was discussing a recent vacation I took to San Francisco and how I visited the Golden Gate Bridge. As an engineer, I had to visit it. (More in later posts.)

After telling this to a number of engineers, one came up to me afterwards and had something to tell me. When he was a child, his favorite toy was —- wait for it —- a model of the Golden Gate Bridge! Did I mention that he is an engineer?

Let me tell you, he was engineer back then, whether age 10, age 14, or whatever, even without the engineering degree or the PE license. Any kid who’s favorite toy was a model of a bridge…

If you are a parent, and notice that your child has some “engineering” leanings, you know what toy to look for. That child will thank you for it later.

Vacation Destination

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This may be a part 2, as I think I have discussed earlier how an engineer may view vacation spots differently than others. Sure, an engineer will appreciate a mountain, or ocean. An engineer may even enjoy a “fun” time at an amusement park as long as he doesn’t start doing calculations on the factor of safety that the various rides must have.

A few members of my family will visit the ocean side of California for vacation. The coastal highway, they say, is beautiful. The hills and wharf of San Francisco are fascinating, and there is the glamor of Hollywood as an intriguing cultural experience. Though we won’t go inland, parks like Yosemite beckon with their “grandeur”.

I asked in our planning sessions, “What engineering masterpiece turned 75 years old this month?” I had to supply the answer. The Golden Gate Bridge. Now, why, I ask, would anyone want to hike up a mountain or along the beach, when that person could just as easily see, and then actually walk right across one of the great engineering feats of the last century.

I discussed this with the family. Walk across a bridge? The first reaction may have been restrained interest, or possibly boredom. I have a hard time distinguishing between the two. But after a detailed and careful explanation of the brilliance of the work, and the fact that we could hike it in the same year it turns 75, they were either very excited to walk the Golden Gate Bridge, or they needed to use the restroom. I also have a difficult time telling the difference between those two.

The Golden Gate Bridge wins out.