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RE: Non Professionals doing Engineering
- To: <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
- Subject: RE: Non Professionals doing Engineering
- From: "Dennis S. Wish PE" <wish(--nospam--at)cwia.com>
- Date: Mon, 25 Jan 1999 00:16:31 -0800
this is a great questions. Personally, I think it comes down to what the
building official will accept. Architects have been designing structural members
for a long time. IMO, those architects who I had the opportunity to plan check
where quite deficient in their understanding of structures and load paths. They
believed that the few static's courses they took in college, combined with a few
books (mostly the Parker series) place them in positions of liability more times
than not. However, this can not be controlled unless the building official is
willing to mandate that the calculations submitted are reviewed by a licensed
(and hopefully competent) engineer.
Many states don't require engineering on certain types of
structures (most notably residential). I think that many are starting to see
that historic problems which have occurred may have been reduced (I doubt that
they would be totally resolved) had the elements been designed by someone with
more in depth understanding of the materials.
California, wood trusses must be designed under the supervision of a licensed
Civil or Structural Engineer. This does not guarantee that the person using the
computer program understands how a truss works. I don't believe that anyone can
force responsibility on a professional - and this, unfortunately, is where
litigation takes over.
Computer Applications Committee of SEA of California is addressing the issue of
control of computer programs. In this case it is an issue of submitting and
accepting the reliability of a program. It was discussed that there may need to
be a typical problem assigned to each category of design problem and any program
which is submitted for this type of design should be able to submit calculation
which proves that it can reliably solve the problem. This does not resolve
potential bugs, but places the reliability of a program on a level platform so
that those who create software in their own offices can assure the building
official that the results are as accurate as the programs commercially sold.
Commercial programs "generally" have better User's manuals and sample
programs to support their programs abilities. This is not typically the case
with proprietary software used by one or a few people.
discussed in the past, the only assurance for reliability is the basic
understanding of the materials and physics involved in solving the problem.
Identifying a mistake is not easy unless the person reviewing it has solved
enough problems (experience) to identify when a result appears to be out of
Personally, I don't think that this needs to be done manually
as a pre-requisite. The designer MUST have an understanding of the process, but
with this understanding he or she should be able to evaluate the output - as
would be expected of a plan check technician.
too, am interested in the opinions of others on this issue.
Dennis S. Wish PE
From: Jim Kestner
Sent: Saturday, January 23, 1999
To: Structural Engineers Association
Subject: Non Professionals doing
I recently ran across this message on another newsgroup and it
made me wonder if we are slowly losing control of our profession to
non-professionals, especially with the advent of computer programs:
Hello, I design wood roof trusses and sometimes I need to know how big
drift will form on the trusses when there are two different
next to each other. Up till now I had the design
program do this for me. Now
I would like to know how to do it
myself, and I can't seem to be able to
find a formula to do this.
Any help would be greately appreciated, thanks.
This posting made me think about where our profession is going and the
affect the computer will have on it. Are these trends good or bad? Is the
EOR the Supervising Professional in this case? Does the EOR really have
direct supervision as many codes require? I am sure a number of us have a
few stories to tell about why this process does not always work well. All
comments are welcome.
Jim Kestner, P.E.
Green Bay, Wi.