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SAP2000, RISA3D, and STAAD

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As one who has and is on both sides of this thread, I have written and
supported complicated structural numerical analysis software and also
provide engineering services.

I found from the writing and support end, that alot of the end users really
do not understand the techniques even at the base level, you end up telling
them that it is fast moment distribution.

Performing peer review for both engineering projects and litigation, many
basic and what I thought was minor mis-understandings can completely
mis-lead the user.  

One side of me says that the user of Finite Element Analysis Software
should be able to recite the stiffness coefficients of several types of
elements without review.  

The other side admits that this might be a little rigid, but there is
clearly not enough understanding of the Method (just review thread) to be
able to practically check the results.  

Personally, I use FEM software I developed in Grad School thus being able
to make additions as project requirements arise.  This also allows for
spreadsheet post-processing which really is the quickest method.

With the now available glimps of the future (non-linear dynamic analysis,
non-linear pushover analysis, LFRD wood?), a FEM graduate level class is or
should be a requirement and more than one if possible.  

The future, as the new codes are revealing, is not going to be simplier and
analysis along with designs intended to economize are not within the realm
of hand calcs.  Only about 5% of the calcs I perform are hand calcs, for
quality assurance reasons alone.  

Users of these types of programs should have a test problem, not just a
series of simple beams, and attempt to model and analyze them, if you can't
generate similar results or explain the differences, you probably should
not be using this software.

	Bill Warren, SE
	Newport Beach, CA