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Re: Structural Engineers becoming isolated from the design team.

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Dear Lynn and list serve members:
As a former Orange County nuclear planner; I would like you all to know that one
of things most admirable (and aggravating) about designing preparedness exercises
for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was that we could not use an
'earthquake threat scenario' as a viable trigger for failure of the power plant.
Although the plant is built practically on top of the Newport-Inglewood fault; the
so-called 'over design' of the site precludes structural failure of the site--in
fact, in our estimation, being at SONGS during a major earthquake is probably one
of the safest places to be!

That engineers are bad-mouthed may be more because most of us 'plebians' just
don't understand the engineering mentality;  you all *see* things that the rest of
the world don't have a clue about.

Audra Ranous, CEM

Lynn H wrote:

> Dennis-
> You stated -
> > I am finding that engineers are
> > becoming increasingly isolated from other members of the design/construction
> > team. Animosity is growing as new construction becomes more restrictive for
> > fully compliant engineering.
> We have found the opposite to be true.  Architects
> seeks our services out more as they are aware that
> it is increasingly difficult for them to do their
> engineering in-house and be Code compliant.
> Contractors call us more asking questions because
> they want to get it right, not because they want to
> fight.
> You said -
> > In the meantime, I am finding that I am taking a considerable amount of
> > verbal abuse. Most come in the form of comments suggesting that engineers,
> > as a whole, aggressively over design structures at the expense of the
> > public. Every contractor touts his ability to construct a building that has
> > never been damaged, but stipulates that even the best engineer will not be
> > able to assure performance in a large magnitude quake.
> I have heard statements like this from contractors
> since the first day I set foot on a job site over 25
> years ago.  My first project was not a residential
> project, but a Nuclear Power Plant in San Onofre.
> Our design team in LA was allowed to do a field
> trip.  I was personally "attacked" (verbally) by the
> steel erectors (the guy shooting the studs on the
> steel beams said he had never in all his life seen
> so many studs put on structural steel beams before,
> and wanted to know which of us idiots was
> responsible for the design) and the rebar guy
> putting the steel on the containment dome (#18 at 9"
> o.c. if I remember right).  The Contractor was
> building it and complaining the whole time about how
> we had over designed the Nuclear Power Plant.  Doing
> wood framed additions to houses gets the same kinds
> of comments.  Contractors always have and always
> will complain about engineers over designing.  I
> have taken the position that if the Contractor is
> NOT complaining, then I have done something wrong.
> This is nothing new.  Some things will never change.
> You stated -
> > I believe that those of us who practice in residential design are having a
> > tougher time creating and maintaining a relationship with our clients and
> > potential clients. I find that new clients are looking for one important
> > trait - an engineer who is willing to disregard compliance with the new
> > code. This is not difficult to do in areas outside major jurisdictions as
> > most small office professionals are not taking the time to understand and
> > learn the intent surrounding the code methodology. Many of these have
> > developed shortcuts which they believe will justify their decision, but I
> > believe the truth is that they are lost and don't have the time to study as
> > intensely as others in jurisdictions that enforce full compliance.
> We have not found this to be true.  We recently
> hired an EIT who was working for a small
> architectural firm doing drafting and engineering.
> This fellow had no other engineers with whom to
> collaborate.  He was basically hired by this
> architect about 3 years ago to do drafting and his
> engineering on type V, one and two story
> structures.  This way the architect would not have
> to hire an outside engineering consultant.
> The engineer wanted to move on so he could get his
> license, so he joined our firm.  We were very happy
> to see that this fellow was right on top of the 1997
> UBC seismic design provisions.  His only training
> was his own study of the Code, and various seminars
> his boss had sent him to on the new Code.
> I have no idea what engineers are doing in other
> places, but I would not minimize the abilities of
> your fellow engineers.  For the most part, from what
> I see, engineers are trying to learn the code and
> are trying to properly design to it.
> Lynn