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Re: [SEAOC] Computer Applications

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In a message dated 96-02-10 20:57:54 EST, you write:

>        I would like to get some input from some of the practicing engineers
>what kind of structural engineering software we should look at in order to
>prepare our students for the future.

Sorry to say this, but, axe those Mac's! They are largely useless in the
practicing structural engineering community. We use PC's and HP 9000 based
UNIX stations exclusively. In addition there is little or no new technical
software being developed for the Mac other than upgrades to existing packages
that have an established Mac base. 

That being said, if you have no options but to stick with your current
machines, simply upgrade your existing base and stay current.

As to PC software, the highest rated stuff in the last issue of Steel
Construction was RISA-2D, SAP90 and RamSteel. They are, in order, 2D, 3D and
steel design packeages. I happen to use all three. RISA-3D was also highly
rated. I would stay away from any of the others (except ETABS which is very
widely used) because of useability issues, user friendliness issues or
technical correctness issuew.

Another point to make is that your students should be well versed in
programming in either Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and/or Visual Basic
(VB) to allow them to implement quick automation solutions for daily repeat
tasks. VBA is found in Excel and other MS Office apps. VB, of course, is the
stand-alone precursor to VBA. General facility in Excel would also be highly
useful. I recommend against Lotus 123, now, because they are playing catch up
with the superior Excel product and fall further and further behind.

Another useful product is MathCad. It is great for generating general
solutions and working out design algorithms and verification of results. But
Excel is the real work horse at our office.

Good Luck,

Mark E. Deardorff, SE
President, Deardorff & Deardorff, Inc.
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