Need a book? Engineering books recommendations...

Return to index: [Subject] [Thread] [Date] [Author]

Structural Engineering as Art and the pitfalls of computers

[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
In the last post, Milo Ketchum stated:
"Training of structural engineers should include courses in art and free
hand drawing. when I taught structural engineering courses I often said:
"Think with your fingers""

I believe that this concept is rapidly becoming archaic and properly so. As
we strive to achieve the most economical design AND accept work that
presents far more complex architectural problems we need to use our minds to
derive more creative structural solutions and spend less time representing
those solutions on paper.
This means that we need to spend more time learning to use the new tools we
have to our advantage. This is the true creativity of drafting.
Cad provides a means for us to create equivalent representation to manual
drafting in a shorter period of time. However, we tend to neglect to delve
past the very basics and blame the technology for providing inferior results
to those of classic delineation.
I have been using Cad software since 1984. With each new advancement, I
strive to learn the new features and how I might apply them to improve my
presentation. Layers, color (as equated to lineweights), and sheet placement
are just  a few of the important skills. I recently learned to create a line
that could be drawn in degrees of shading so that it appeared as a very
faint, but thick line which was interpreted as a background when plotted.
Rather than learning to letter in classic style, we need only find a font
that achieves this - or create one if so inclined.
The argument that most firms can not afford the down time for learning is no
longer valid. More draftsman with structural experience are available today
than ever before and this is growing at a steady pace. Still, we all have
our unique specialties which require special training. Unless your secure
that you will never lose your valued draftsperson, you may be faced with the
need to train an apprentice. There should be no more "downtime" than that of
taking on a new employee. Better still, offices might consider hiring a
draftsperson with greater skills (and pay accordingly) who can establish an
office standard at an accelerated rate - thus reducing the cost of
I believe that the resistance to Cad is one of fear of technology rather
than rational consideration of efficiency or lost productivity. This
resistance is true of most changes in technology - one that requires time to
I think the time has come that we understand the business side of our
profession and choose those tools that can protect our creative
representation and increase our efficiency and productivity. The advantage
is that we can provide greater efficiency and creative choices as solutions
to complex problems.

Dennis S.Wish PE
Dennis S. Wish PE

-----Original Message-----
From: Milo Ketchum [mailto:mketchum(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Friday, January 01, 1999 4:45 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Structural Engineers are Artists!


Training of structural engineers should include courses in art and free
hand drawing.
when I taught structural engineering courses I often said: "Think with
your fingers"