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[SEAOC] RE: [SEAOC] Quality in Engineering - checking

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On Thu, 19 Sep 1996 10:01:07 +0500  Bill Sherman wrote:
>
>Here's a topic for discussion, relating to quality in engineering: 
> 
>To what extent do you have your design's checked independently by another 
>engineer?  Are your calculations checked independently by another engineer 
>(licensed or unlicensed)?  How detailed is the check (number by number, 
>cursory review, etc.)?  Are your drawings/details checked?  Do you have an 
>independent review done of your design concept by another professional 
>engineer? 

I currently work for a state DOT and have also worked for a large national engineering firm, 
designing highway bridges in both cases.  In both jobs the designer completes the design, then 
*every* number and *every* assumption on *every* page is checked by another engineer.  The engineer 
checking the design marks every number and assumption with a check mark, indicating agreement, or 
with a different number if he disagrees with it.  The original designer then follows back through the 
design in a "back check," in which he either puts a check mark indicating agreement with the 
checker's change or works out the disagreement with the checker.  The design is not considered 
complete until both the designer and the checker agree on everything in the design.

The plans are then prepared from the design (this is the ideal sequence:  time constraints often 
disrupt this orderly flow of events so that parts of the process overlap:-) and another engineer not 
involved in the design process checks every mark on the plan sheets for compliance with the design.  
The typical process at the DOT is for the plans checker to go through each sheet three times, 
returning it to the detailer for corrections, with the third pass usually having very few or no 
changes.  The plans checker also reviews the special provisions, returning them for changes where 
necessary.  The whole contract package then goes through review (not detailed checking) by two senior 
engineers before going out the door.

Typically, but not necessarily, either the original designer or the design checker is a PE.  The 
plans checker and the senior engineers are always PEs.

It's a rigorous process, yet I can assure you "stuff" still happens; i.e., mistakes still 
occasionally get through to cause problems later.

Nigel
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Nigel Mends, PE
email:  nmends(--nospam--at)mt.net
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