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Re: Hand-Calcs vs. Computer Calcs

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> Do you think there may be the potential of our profession becoming
>too "computerized"?
It's happening before our eyes. It isn't so much a matter of doing 
arithmetic, but a reliance on software to understand first principles or 
simply do what we mean instead of what we say. The number of questions I 
see on various mailing lists or the Usenet every day which show utter 
cluelessness in finding errors or checking assumptions in the use of FEA 
software is sometimes comical sometimes appalling. I've run into MS level 
engineers who can't even draw a freebody diagram to help analyse results 
that seem strange. We need to understand first principles if we're to 
think critically; I've even heard tell of academics who feel that FEA 
software obviates the need for courses in applied mechanics. 

Corrolary to that is the number of engineers (mostly sprogs) who are so 
web happy they can't or won't use a library or other standard reference 
techniques. If information isn't on a web page it apparently doesn't 
exist. I suspect the Internet wouldn't be such a hive of rumor and hoax 
if users learned the basic skills of critical thinking.

I hasten to add that I'm not 'agin' either the internet or engineering 
software. I use the former hourly for important information and I make a 
good living off the latter. But I never mistake machinery or software for 
a solution.

Christopher Wright P.E.    |"They couldn't hit an elephant from
chrisw(--nospam--at)        | this distance"   (last words of Gen.
___________________________| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)