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RE: Lack of Drafters (& more)

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I keep thinking there is something we continue to miss about this situation.

I vacillate between wanting to "correct" the education curriculum and
forcing myself to admit that we, as a profession, need to contribute to the
education curve.

I've seen our work change from being the somewhat self-centered engineering
professional who wants to place columns at the most logical location, to the
"enlightened" engineer who sees the iceberg below the surface instead of
just the tip. Admittedly, I've grown to admire the education of architects
and found respect for the ability to "see" the whole picture while looking
at the parts. (And yes, that means understanding mechanical systems)

Perhaps it's appropriate to acknowledge our shortcomings and become
pro-active as Dennis so often suggests. Look back at the models we have
shaped our careers around and ask what is the nudge we can use to correct
our course. Admission of desire to make change is often sufficient to get us
off our butts.

So what can we do about some of this?

Move into circles where change can take root. Get involved in our colleges
and universities. Make it a point to develop a relationship with those we
hope to direct in construction of our designs. And listen to what is said.
Don't be afraid to think about where you need to go, or who you need to meet
to affect change. If you have a good idea, be a good salesperson. I like to
fly fish, and as much as I think I've got the right fly at the end of my
leader it's the fish that decides to take it. Change flies, change tactics,
be interested in watching how something that seemed so impossible can grow
into something worth doing.

I like thinking about our cross-pollination efforts too. Finding new sources
of talent is the prospecting we need to do. Seeing the entire construction
process from owner to banker to contractor will aid our thinking in how we
pick our battles. If we want respect in that decision making process then we
need to find the forums to showcase our point of view. And don't get our
noses bent out of shape when we don't always succeed in being the focal
point. We all have our pet peeves, but boring the be-jeezeus out of someone
or placing an inordinate amount of emphasis on something will often serve to
flip the switch off as opposed to leaving open an opportunity to move on.

I'm not complaining so much about how we as engineers approach this process
as I am about any party who can't budge beyond their professional boundary
and extend an open mind.

Sorry for the diatribe. I'm coming off a "patriotic high" after yesterday's
Super bowl. Born in the east and raised in New England, I guess that Yankee
ingenuity instills a "can-do" spirit.

Barry H. Welliver
barrywelliver(--nospam--at)earthlink.net


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dennis Wish [mailto:dennis.wish(--nospam--at)verizon.net]
> Sent: Monday, February 04, 2002 1:51 AM
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
> Subject: RE: Lack of Drafters
>
>
> Lynn
> This is the most encouraging words of wisdom that I have heard in a long
> time. It is rare, however, to find a competent practitioner in the
> industry who is willing to admit that they have more to learn. You found
> one and maybe more and I applaud you for being open and creative in
> this.
> I had a student at the local community college where I taught. She is an
> interior designer with a lucrative practice and a PhD from the
> University of Minnesota. She is in her 50's and not interested in
> changing careers - she only wanted to take a course in structures to
> understand more about the important aspects of our profession that would
> help her work around the structural elements of a home or office to
> preserve the safety and performance, yet to creatively design her work
> while preserving mine.
> I can't tell you how wonderful it was to find a fellow member of the
> design team who was interested in creating a synergy between the
> professions rather than simply wanting to find an engineer willing to
> design a sky hook.
>
> There are more out there - contractors (specifically framers), designers
> and architects who are willing to work with us - each taking
> responsibility as a member of the team rather than an independent who
> demands that the rest of us bend to unreasonable designs. I only wish
> that what Lynn found was the rule rather than the exception - but this
> does not mean that we can not work to promote more members willing to
> put aside their arrogance and learn something from what we have to teach
> them. It has been my experience that most framers are arrogant - they
> resent professionals with education who have never lifted a hammer from
> telling them how to assemble the systems. Here may be examples of those
> who understand the limits on how long they can work with their back and
> have the foresight and intelligence to want something more. It may be
> our responsibility to do more to promote these individuals and reward
> them for their efforts.
>
> I still think that the answer is to promote and reward these individuals
> by assuring them that their skills are an integral part of our
> profession and that their efforts will pay off of them regardless of
> whether they remain framers, turn to designers or aid engineers. One
> thing that we should never take for granted is the creative framer. I'm
> not sure about most of you, but the best builders I've ever worked with
> had framers who thought on the spot and were able to convey to me
> alternatives to those details of mine that did not work in practical
> application. Once we become arrogant, then there is little hope to
> bridge the gap between builder and professional.
>
> I have a friend who is now living in Utah. He is a graduate architect, a
> builder and a furniture craftsman. When we worked together, he
> understood structural load paths better than most engineers. He knew his
> designs and was able to track every load path and explain to me when
> something was not clear. Balancing our mutual skills created great
> designs - I relied on his experience and knowledge and he on my
> creativity.
>
> I applaud Lynn for recognizing the value of good framers and rewarding
> them for wanting to advance further. We need a means to promote this
> type of collaboration so that it is a rule rather than an exception.
>
> Dennis S. Wish, PE
> California Professional Engineer
> The Structuralist.Net Information Infrastructure
>
> Website:
> http://www.structuralist.net
>
> ."The truly educated never graduate"
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Lynn H [mailto:lhoward(--nospam--at)silcom.com]
> Sent: Sunday, February 03, 2002 7:29 PM
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
> Subject: Re: Lack of Drafters
>
> Okay, I am going to throw my 2 cents in here and
> give away all my secrets!!  You guys should pay me
> for this information :)
>
> One thing that has worked for us is to find young
> construction workers that really don't want to be
> construction workers and want to be in the office
> designing.  I am in contact with concrete people,
> framers, rod busters, steel workers all the time.  I
> get the word out at as many job sites as possible
> that we are looking for entry level CAD people and
> are willing to train.  The ones who contact us are
> almost always young, and have worked on a
> construction site long enough to know it is not what
> they want to do the rest of their lives.
>
> Some of them have already started taking CAD classes
> in the evening, keeping their construction jobs
> during the day.  Our last new CAD person was a
> framer, and had been doing it for 6 years.  He is 25
> years old, and was always fascinated by the
> structures he was building.  He has set his eyes on
> other goals now, and he is continuing to take
> evening CAD classes while he is working full time
> during the day at our office.  He is doing GREAT, as
> have most of the others we have found this way.  He
> knows more than some of our engineers about how
> buildings are built, and what is buildable and what
> is not.
>
> This could work for anyone really.  Just get the
> word out at job sites and see who comes around.
> These guys know how to read plans (usually), and
> completely understand what they are drawing.  It has
> worked on  more than one occasion for us.
>
> Lynn
>
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