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<< Anyone have experience and/or comments about the ACI "MATS" software
 program. They don't seem to offer a demo and I don't know how a guy's
 supposed to lay out money without knowing more than the glowing
 descriptions in the publications catalog.

Careful with MATS. The finite element used in this program to model the mat
behaviour has poor transverse shear properties, an important consideration
for mat analysis. A better bet would be SAFE from CSI. You might also
consider one of the better general purpose programs (SAP2000, GT-STRUDL,
RISA-3D, etc.).

Incidentally, I would never buy ANY software without a demo or at least a
money back guarantee. 

Earl Conroy 
E.C. Engineers