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RE: Excel vs Mathcad

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Does anyone else recognize a young Michael Brooks here?

Bill Allen, S.E.
Laguna Niguel, CA

> -----Original Message-----
> From: William Keil [mailto:WJK(--nospam--at)]
> Sent: Friday, August 13, 1999 12:54 PM
> To: 'seaint(--nospam--at)'
> Subject: RE: Excel vs Mathcad
> I have been following the Excel vs. Mathcad debate closely with great
> interest.  I agree that Mathcad is easier for a peer to 
> review, but I prefer
> Excel for the power and the ability to hide non-essential 
> calculations to
> save paper.  Once I have verified the accuracy of the program 
> then I have no
> need to see any other cells than the input, design decisions 
> made, and the
> output.  However, I do need to provide secondary 
> documentation so that the
> peer can confirm the procedure and some examples.  This is 
> not a problem
> because I must perform a few hand calculations to help in the 
> programming
> anyway.  My company requires numbered calculations for every 
> job so limiting
> the amount of paper saves time at the end of a project.
> I have been developing design spreadsheets for the last five 
> years (I've
> been contemplating selling them but I've discovered that 
> everybody likes
> their own style and therefore likely not interested in 
> anything that I have
> produced).  I create them on company time (i.e. overhead) 
> when I am not busy
> or when another engineer requests a specific task to be 
> designed.  Other
> than that, I create the spreadsheets on an as-needed basis 
> and charge the
> time to the project that I originally needed it for.  My 
> employers do not
> infringe on my desire to be more efficient with my calculations mainly
> because it allows more time to prepare the construction 
> documents.  One
> employer established a job number for me to charge to so they 
> could track my
> time but that was unique.  
> My employer endorses the use of Excel spreadsheets and other 
> engineers are
> encouraged to use them (and check for accuracy also).  Since I am the
> creator of these spreadsheets, they will come and go with me.  If my
> employer wants the exclusive rights to what I have created, they must
> compensate me very well.  I estimate that I have over 1300 
> hours invested
> over the last five years.  I do not receive any additional 
> compensation for
> performing my job more efficiently - however, these tools 
> have allowed me to
> meet the tight deadlines this profession is subjected to.  In 
> addition, they
> have saved me from coming into the office on weekends.  My 
> current company
> is an employee-owned organization so whatever design time I 
> save results in
> a better bottom line and practically guarantees a bonus at 
> the end of the
> year (I only have to wonder how much it is instead of if I 
> will get one). 
> I believe in working smarter instead of harder.  I do not 
> like to do things
> over and over manually because it becomes extremely stressful 
> and tedious.
> It is much simpler to program a computer once, do some test 
> runs, and just
> alter the input.  Therefore, once I have developed a design 
> spreadsheet it
> can be reused on another project.  Several of these files are over 1
> Megabyte and process an enormous amount of information quickly!  For
> example, I have reduced the time to design a concrete 
> retaining wall from 5
> hours (by hand) to 2 minutes.  I assume eventually I will 
> have a design
> spreadsheet for every task I perform ... which will expedite 
> the calculation
> phase in order to create "perfect" drawings.  Hmmm - wonder if I could
> automate that too??  I hope this insight helps.
> William J. Keil, P.E.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jim Kestner [mailto:jkestner(--nospam--at)]
> Sent: Friday, August 13, 1999 3:08 PM
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)
> Subject: Re: Excel vs Mathcad
> For those of you who are not self employed, have you developed these
> spreadsheets on your own time or on the company's time? If on your own
> time, what agreement do you have with your employer as to 
> owns the right
> to these spreadsheets? Do you get some additional 
> compensation from your
> employer since it has made you and possibly your co-workers, more
> efficient and  you have more value to your firm. If you are 
> not getting
> additional compensation or other benefits, what incentive do 
> you have in
> writing these, other than some individual satisfaction?
> If done on company time, do you charge it to a particular project,
> general overhead or something else?
> Jim Kestner, P.E.
> Green Bay, Wi.