Saturday, May 22, 2010

Day 2-Lectures About Bridges in Hungary

During our second day in Budapest, the group was hosted by the Budapest Polytechnic University' Civil Engineering department. There were two lectures and we were served lunch.
After a short walk from our hotel, we reached the college. We were greeted by Balazs Kovesdi, a PhD student at the school. He showed us to our lecture room and introduced us to Dr. Laszlo Hegedűs, an associate professor in steel structures. Professor Hegedűs presented on the bridges of Budapest. Because of the seperation of the city by the Danube river, there are a number of bridges that span the river at locations throughout the city. Because the people of Budapest have designed each bridge in its own style. This was the focus of the professor's lecture. He spent a short time on some of the mechanics regarding the structure of the bridge. However, the bulk of his lecture was regarding the history of each bridge: how the design was selected, the situation surrounding its construction, the needs the bridge meets. The timeline for the construction spans from 1838 with the beginning of construction of the Szechenyi Chain Bridge and continuing to the Lagymanyosi Bridge in 1995. All of the bridges of Budapest(currently nine!) have a unique style and design.

At the conclusion of the professor's lecture, we were treated to a lunch that was both extravagent and incredibly delicious. We were served in a private area in the university's dining center. Each member of the group was allowed the choice of soup, main course, and dessert.

Following the meal we were given a short walking tour of the campus by Mr. Kovesdi. We were shown the main building of the campus, the main library, and the Civil Engineering Structures Lab. The chance to be given explanations of some of the research being conducted by the University in the field of structures was incredibly gracious of the university, and very educational for the student group. While there was quite a bit of steel being tested, there was also reinforced concrete, aluminum structures and components, and railroad components.

The group left the lab behind to hear another lecture, this time from a member of Hungarian industry. Adrian Horvath represented Fomterv, one of Hungary's leading infrastructure design firms. Throughout his presentation, Mr. Horvath displayed some of the methods that Fomterv uses to distinguish themselves in their fields. The presentation regarded the construction of the Pentele-Danube bridge. The bridge will serve to alleviate traffic pressure in Budapest. Currently people driving from west of Hungary to the east must travel through the southern region of Budapest. This is also true for people travelling from the east to the west. The placement of the bridge is in such a way that this traffic will be able to pass through Hungary a signifant distance south of Budapest, decreasing overall demand on Hungary's highway system.

This aspect of Mr. Horvath's lecture was not the most incredibl part of his presentation, however. The implementation of the design included moving the bridge, the world's longest basket handle tied arch bridge, from its construction location to the location of the bridge, BY BARGE! The awesome implication of this statement is that there were 8700 tons of S 460 M steel used in the construction of this bridge! As part of his presentation, the group was able to see a time-lapse video of the placement of the bridge. A meteorological company was required to ensure wind speeds would be low enough on the day of placement so there were no complications! Mr. Horvath also included discussion on the methodology of testing the structural stability of the materials and overall bridge safety. This bridge is truly a wonder.

Following the completion of the lectures, the group had dinner together at a restaurant in a large boat moored in the Danube in downtown Budapest. After dinner, a short walk around downtown looking at sights ended at the hotel.