For their bridge class final, the students had to design a bridge.  It was a take home final where they had several weeks to layout and design a simple span prestressed concrete bridge.  I requested that they consider aesthetics. The students needed to sketch their designs and comment on various ways that the resulting bridge was attractive.  Many students tried to quantify their aesthetic design, referring to suggested guidelines for different components of the superstructure.  


Concerning his design, one student commented: 

“The bride meets slenderness requirements”. 

Although potentially an accurate statement, this comment is not directly related to bridge engineering.  I did express concern to the student that he might have upcoming difficulties in other areas of his life. 

So, this story brings on a little diatribe about spell check.  Microsoft Word kindly helps us to avoid misspelling anything, although I can see as I type this that the program doesn’t believe “prestressed” is really spelled that way.  Many have lamented about our increasing inability to spell.  At least one reference claims that the opposite is true--that poor spelling is a sign of intelligence.  I like that one, and also references claiming that Haagen Daz is good for you  (note that MS Word has complained about my spelling of “Haagen Daz”). 

Because many of us no longer check spelling, we also avoid proofreading as well.  That’s how my student got into trouble.  MS Word has grammar check, but content check is a ways off.  Probably that is a good thing, because if there was such a thing as content check, then we would have no proofreading at all, instead of the minimal amount that seems to be current practice.