From: Christopher Wright [mailto:chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 27, 2000 6:03 PM
To: SEAOC Newsletter
Subject: RE: ASD vs. LRFD
The issue isn't university involvement or
even participation in Code promulgation, but the role in forcing a change
There are no Bill Clinton-inspired "code enforcement police" armed with
automatic weapons and breaking down the doors of those engineers who are
unenlightened to the extent they won't accept new code recommendations, as
The code provisions, for pretty much any design code you can think of, are
adopted through a rigorous balloting process. In fact, the afforementioned
grad school experience learning the ins, outs, and background of the steel
and concrete codes gave me a lot of insight on this. One professor, for
example, who sat on the ACI committee on Slab Design, told of an occasion
where they were balloting the code provisions dealing with the transfer of
moment from a floor slab into a column. He was adamantly opposed to the
formulation of this provision that was eventually adopted. "Why is this
provision in ACI 318 formulated the way it is?" I remember him saying.
"Because majority rules! But I do it THIS way...." and he proceeded to teach
us the "correct" formulation for that process, as he fervently believed it.
The insight I got, obviously, is that these things are very arbitrary (one
has only to follow somewhat the arguments on the seismic provisions in
IBC--or even 1997 UBC--to understand this is so).
But I can also conclude, from this experience and from noting the names of
those individuals sitting on these committees throughout the last few
decades, that academics have ALWAYS played a large role in formulating the
design codes. The fact is, that "majority rules" on these committees. I'm
sure that a consensus is desired, but I'm equally sure that, as in the ACI
flat slab design example, it isn't always achieved.
So, I don't think the academics are "forcing LRFD down our throats" any more
now than those certain flat slab design provisions were forced down the
throats of engineers designing in concrete those several years ago.
There are many engineers--myself for one--who simply don't have a problem
with the evolution of design philosophy that has led to the LRFD provisions.
Too, I have no problem with those like yourself who choose to muddle on with
ASD. That is your right as a licensed engineer. I defend that right
The ONLY thing I really object to is what I consider "synthetic rationale"
for dismissing LRFD as "flawed" or "forced down our throats by academics"
when the fact is most of us don't want to learn it because we simply don't
want to take the time.