Return to index: [Subject] [Thread] [Date] [Author]

RE: FWD: In Re: "The ICC and NFPA's Tug Of War"

[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Perhaps not so much "ego" as the desire to have something customized to your
requirements, or at least your prejudices.

I recall my grad school professor, Dr. Joe Appleton at the University of
Alabama-Birmingham, teaching me about just how "arbitrary" a design
"standard" really is.

I was taking the Advanced Reinforced Concrete Design course, and we were
studying the provisions for design of two-way slabs.

He chalked up on the board, ACI 318 Equation (13-1) (or at least, the
version of that equation that appeared in the 1983 version), and asked "now,
why is this correct"?

My classmates and I sat thinking about the various basic engineering science
that might lead one to conclude that this was the correct equation governing
the transfer of moment from slab/beam to column by flexure and by shear

Then he gave the answer: "Because majority rules."

He then went on to state that when he served on the Flat Slab Committee of
ACI, he was in the minority opinion when the time came to vote on how to
formulate that equation. He said "I don't do it this way, I do it thusly,"
and began to explain his own, personal formulation of this solution.

Up until that time, I thought that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai
with the Tables of the Law, he also brought with him copies of ACI 318 (1000
B.C. Edition) and AISC (This was even before the "Allowable Stress Design"
method, and was known as the "Allowable Death Method" which dictated that
the number of slave deaths per major structural member hauled into place
could not go below a certain specified value--but I digress). It didn't
occur to me that there was actually some DEBATE and CONSENSUS--much less
majority rule--that went into determining design standards, building codes
and what-not.

Anyway, the point is that no two engineers are going to agree on how
something must be approached in every case, so you have the phenomenon of
"wheel reinvention" happening on a consistent basis.

I think that, absent any discussion of the "why" of this dispute between
NFPA and ICC (at least insofar as the Structural Engineer article is
concerned), this must be the case yet again.

William L. Polhemus, Jr., P.E.
Polhemus Engineering Company
Katy, Texas
Phone 281-492-2251
Fax 281-492-8203

-----Original Message-----
From: Padmanabhan Rajendran [mailto:rakamaka(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2001 11:41 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: FWD: In Re: "The ICC and NFPA's Tug Of War"


Codes and standards aside, we have
"clients" standards too to add to the confusion. Does
it all arise out of ego?

*   This email was sent to you via Structural Engineers 
*   Association of Southern California (SEAOSC) server. To 
*   subscribe (no fee) or UnSubscribe, please go to:
*   Questions to seaint-ad(--nospam--at) Remember, any email you 
*   send to the list is public domain and may be re-posted 
*   without your permission. Make sure you visit our web 
*   site at: