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RE: Duplication of others work.[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
- To: "'seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org'" <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
- Subject: RE: Duplication of others work.
- From: "Caldwell, Stan" <scaldwell(--nospam--at)halff.com>
- Date: Thu, 15 Oct 1998 10:55:31 -0500
-----Original Message----- From: ErnieNSE(--nospam--at)aol.com [mailto:ErnieNSE(--nospam--at)aol.com] Sent: Thursday, October 15, 1998 1:55 AM To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org Subject: Re: Duplication of others work. Bill, Your hypothetical case is quite accurate. I've been doing a lot of fast food restaurants(but not McDonalds). And in answer to your question if I'll be upset if they used my plans and details for an exact duplicate building............my answer is NO! Why? Because I copied the same plans and details from a set plans they(the owner of the restaurant) gave me. I just made sure that I reviewed the plans very well and I'm completely satisfied that it conforms to my standards. And also, I had to do my own set of structural calculations from scratch. And if I found something that needs to be changed, framing size or connection detail, I would have changed it .........but everthing was OK. My first instinct when I bid on my first job for this client is that I will use this set of plans and improve on it, modify it a bit. I didn't want to just copy it. But I was told that this is a prototype building and they have been using the same set of plans for identical buildings for a long time. They are very satisfied with it considering it has gone through many revisions and improvements throughout its use. They don't want to mess around with some untested new concepts or ideas. Now, should I refuse the job because it is against my principle of not copying somebody else's plans? If I turn the job down, I'm almost sure somebody else will jump at the opportunity to do it, copying the prototype plan. Do I feel guilty copying the plans? Well, I did some background checking first on how the current set of plans came about and I found out that the plans have been going around different engineers who have been copying it, maybe improving on it during the early stages, until it came to me. The original engineer who developed the prototype would be the first one to be upset because he spent so much time, money and effort to get it in good shape. But he has been adequately compensated for his initial efforts, plus he has been paid a nice fee for the re-use of these plans for the last few years. He's still doing some new projects for them and he's quite happy with the present business arrangment. He would like to keep everything to himself but ......... Anyway, now I don't feel guilty anymore. It looks like the original engineer is happy, the other engineers who did the jobs for while(including me) are happy, the owner is happy, the next engineer to do the job is gonna be happy.................... I've been involved with two other similar projects with prototype buildings and it seems that some other engineers are doing it this way...... Is it legal? Is it ethical? Is it standard industry practice?...............I don't know. If you were ask by McDonalds to do maybe a hundred or a thousand units using their prototype plan, would you turn it down? Ernie Natividad ********************************************** Ernie: Thank you for this post! It certainly provides a reality check for the structural engineering profession. I applaud your honesty, even though I take exception to almost everything that you've written. Earlier in my career, I found myself confronted with the prototype & rollout mentality inherent in chain restaurants. Once I understood how the game was played, I quickly got out and never looked back. Here are a few points for your consideration: 1.) In most states, it is illegal to use any part of another engineer's work without formally notifying that engineer in advance. Also, it is unethical to do so. 2.) Many on this listserv have complained that structural engineers are poorly paid and not generally treated with the same level of respect as other professionals (doctors, lawyers, accountants, and even architects). Engineers who accept fast food assignments such as you have described do not deserve credible fees and professional respect because they are not providing services of any real value. 3.) When an engineer signs plans for a rollout, or site-adapt, he/she typically does very little actual work and receives little more than a token fee. However, he/she becomes the EOR in so doing, and accepts significant liability in the process. Take the example of 1000 "identical" McDonalds. If the fee on Store No. 1 is "A" and the liability is "B", what is it for 1000 stores? The fee might be 10 x A or 50 x A, but the liability definitely is 1000 x B. 4.) You are correct that restaurants are proud of their prototype designs (and rightfully so) and resist changing them. This can become a huge problem considering regional differences in seismicity, wind loading, snow loading, geotechnical conditions, site topography, and building codes. Now two stores are truly identical, except in the mind of your client. The lack of meaningful fees makes the problems even larger. 5.) In summary, I feel very strongly that chain restaurant work presents one of the worst combinations of factors for a consulting structural engineer: low fees, high risk, and no real sense of accomplishment. It is best left to professional engineers working as full time employees of the restaurant corporations. Best Regards, Stan R. Caldwell, P.E. Dallas, Texas ****************************** Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with. ******************************
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