All of the advice received so far is excellent. I have worked my way into
the profession from the "back end". I was working full time when I returned
to school convinced that I could go only so far on my own and became
"stuck". While working, I was able to delve into file cabinets full of
structural analysis and design and was allowed to copy the work and take it
home with me. In time, I began to understand the relationship between the
theories and the practical application as was available in the calculations
that I attempted to interpret. I had to answer the same questions that plan
checkers do - What was the engineer's design intent and how did the details
relate to his analysis. In time, both sides came together and I began to
Although cautioned to get your manual skills down before relying upon
computer programs, I would suggest you use spreadsheet software to create
templates for the manual design that you will perform. The reason is that
you will begin to question where all of the variables originated and often
how code formula's were derived. A very good example of this is found in the
wood diaphragm deflection calculations as the list had a long thread on how
portions of the four part formula derived to where the units balanced. This
took considerable digging and the more digging, the more the intent of each
of the four parts of the deflection calculation started to fall into place.
Sometime around 1987 I wrote a spreadsheet for the design of Unreinforced
Masonry called Equake. The creation of the program raised many questions
which needed to be resolved before I could finish the spreadsheet. Once this
was done, I knew the design of URM buildings better than most.
I believe that if you are on the creating end of computer programs, they can
be used to a tremendous advantage to develop understanding of the building
code while creating useful design tools in the process.
Dennis S. Wish, PE
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Sherman, William [mailto:ShermanWC(--nospam--at)cdm.com]
> Sent: Friday, April 27, 2001 11:58 AM
> To: 'seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org'
> Subject: RE: advice
> 1. You need to have a good grasp of "statics" and be able to draw
> free body
> diagrams and follow load paths thru a structure.
> 2. You need to be able to translate analyses into construction drawings.
> This is often a "weak link" for recent graduates since schools do
> not teach
> this very well. If you can get a set of structural construction drawings
> from an actual project, it would help to study the drawings to see if you
> can follow the sequence and details of construction. And if you can get
> architectural, mechanical, and electrical drawings as well, you
> can see how
> different disciplines interrelate on a project.
> 3. You need to be able to function using both computers and
> manual methods.
> Don't get into the habit of doing "everything" on the computer. Learn when
> computers are most effective vs when manual methods are most effective.
> 4. When doing computer analyses, you need to be able to determine whether
> the results are "reasonable". I recommend looking at various output from a
> structural analysis program, especially including deflections and
> deformations of a structure to see how a structure reacts to the applied
> loads. Often errors can be found when the structure does not "behave" the
> way you would expect it to. Also view plots of the input, moments, etc.
> Don't just assume that the output is correct.
> 5. You should be able to review work done by someone else and be able to
> "critique" it, i.e. note where there are errors, omissions, or
> 6. And you need to be able to communicate with others effectively.
> Good Luck!
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Karma Yonten [mailto:kyonten(--nospam--at)seas.gwu.edu]
> > Sent: Friday, April 27, 2001 10:47 AM
> > To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
> > Subject: advice
> > Hello there,
> > I'm a structural engineering student at GWU; I got my B.S. in
> > engineering
> > physics, and I don't have much background in S.E. par se.
> > What makes a good
> > structural engineer, that is, what kind of tool and skill
> > must you have? I'm
> > studying a lot of theories, and that's what I've been doing
> > all my life, but
> > theories without applications seem pointless, and I've been
> > quite frustrated
> > with that. Studying is one thing and applying is quite
> > another; they go
> > together, but it doesn't mean that if you're good at
> > theories, you'll be good
> > at applying them because in reality there are a lot of things
> > that you have to
> > consider that studying theories often don't give you that
> > experience. I'm
> > interested in all aspects of structural engineering,
> > designing, analysis etc.
> > What are some of the good tools that you use daily, that I
> > need to be familar
> > or even have expertise on if I seriously thing about pursuing
> > this career? I
> > would be grateful if you could pass down some advice to a perspective
> > structural engineer.
> > Thanking you.
> > Sincerely,
> > Karma Yonten
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