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The role of structural engineer in the construction team has changed
quite a lot recently, thanks to the enforcement of the Structural
Observation Code section by some major cities in California and the
awareness of construction deficiencies by some conscious owners.

When I first start practicing structural engineering back in 1982. A
typical job usually required only a couple of site visits by structural
engineer.  Most cities, especially the small ones, never asked for
structural observation letters from the EOR. In some jobs, you never get
to see a single rebar or joists ..., the next time you passed by the job
site, it was already occupied. So as long as the inspectors okay it, the
contractor got the Cert. of occupancy.  I think it is still the same
practice in most small cities.  Shame on them.

Major city like LA has enforced Structural Observations for quite a few
years already. So the contractors will have to get a ok from both the
city inspectors and the structural engineer in order to get passed. 
This has improved the finished construction quite a lot. Sometimes, you
will be surprised what is happening in the real world if you just stay
in the office doing design.  Structural observations will definitely
improve our design skills and decrease construction deficiencies.

Tom Chiu, SE
Thomas Engineering
Walnut, CA

Arenson wrote:
> I've recently been asked this question and thought I would solicit a few opinions.
> What is the role of the structural engineer in the Architecture/Engineer/Construction team?
> What has it historically been?
> What changes are currently taking place?
> Regards
> Nick Arenson