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library.cornell.edu.The Thurston testing machine, which could record a strain diagram with a pencil attached to a pendu-lum, is on display in the dynamics laboratory of theoretical and applied mechanics’s Thurston Hall. Nearby isa bas-relief of the great man himself—by Herman McNeil, the sculptor who rendered Ezra Cornell (and thetelegraph instrument that led to the university founder’s fortune), larger than life, on the Arts Quad. Thurstonhad hired McNeil as an instructor in the art department of Sibley College; the sculptor returned the favor.Elsewhere, in the Sibley School’s Upson Hall, are displayed the university’s collections of vintage calculat-ing devices, including some rare slide rules. The most precious machine of all, the actual Vail-Morse receiver,is kept under lock and key—except for special occasions like Ezra Cornell’s 200th birthday. That self-taughtengineer never had a calculating machine. He made calculations the old-fashioned way: with a pencil in his“cipher book.”
4 8T H EP L A N E TI SO U RC A M P U SCornell’s “natural areas” holdings. On this land, access to the east end of Beebe Lakefrom Cornell’s north campus and from Forest Home Drive is provided by The TangSteps, a project designed and built by three dozen civil engineering students of ProfessorMary Sansalone. The steps—which honor the memory of the grandparents of MartinTang, Class of 1974—are said to enhance the site’sfeng shui.Farther up Fall Creek, in 1983, some twenty student members of the AmericanSociety of Civil Engineers observed the Brooklyn Bridge centennial by building a smallerone—the Stevens Suspension Bridge—in the Flat Rocks area. Student chapter presidentBryan D. Clark led the team through computer-aided design and knuckle-bruising con-struction of the bridge. Working frantically to complete the project in an especially wetspring, Clark lost his voice and gave orders by scribbled notes. As foaming champagneopened the bridge, faculty advisor Thomas O’Rourke, professor of civil and environ-mental engineering. called the project “both a gift and a discovery.” The gift was tohikers who had waded across the creek since a 1981 flood washed out the last bridge.The student builders discovered, through cooperative enterprise, O’Rourke said, an ap-plication for the engineering principles they learned in class.What’s in a Name?The names on some engineering buildings can be confusing. Riley–Robb Hall, whichhouses the former Department of Agricultural Engineering (which has morphed into theDepartment of Biological and Environmental Engineering), honors two former depart-ment chairs, Howard W. and Byron B., respectively.Rhodes Hall honors Frank H. T. Rhodes, Cornell’s ninth president, an emi-nent geologist and member of the engineering faculty. The facility was designed as theThe “Old Mech Lab”circa 1890, one of thewooden shops builtbehind Sibley Hall’sclassrooms to teachstudents in the Collegeof the Mechanic Artsthe machinery skills ofthe day. When the labwas modified in 1938,a surprise was waitingbeneath the floor. (Seepage 64.)

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Term
Spring
Professor
DRJHK
Tags
Cornell University, Cornell Engineering, Ezra Cornell

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