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RE: codifying engineering judgement, not possible

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I agree it is not possible to codify judgement and I was being sarcastic.
However, alot of engineering is not common sense to everyone. What is a
structural license? A way to guarantee someone designing structures knows
structures.  In Alaska there  is only a civil license.   I am sorry but I
know people practicing structural engineering that have told me they went
for the civil problems on the exam because the structural problems are too
hard. Maybe those people aren't engineering highrises but I see good work
and bad work. Is it better to not have anyone reviewing or inspecting work,
seeing that anyone could do a couple of open channel flow problems, a couple
of horizontal curve and vertical curve problems, a couple of traffic
problems and get a license to design 10 story special moment frame
buildings.

Codes are cookbooks.  I was being sarcastic about how to deal with dead load
to resist overturning in a perforated wall and in this one case I think it
would be easy to write one sentence to prevent bad judgement.  I have seen
many engineers winging perforated shearwall design [not mentioning much more
egregious stuff], without understanding the IBC provisions or NEHRP
provisions or having any background on perforated wood panel shear walls.  

Everybody wants the cops to police the riff-raff but gets mad when they get
a speeding ticket.

-----Original Message-----
From: Randy Vogelgesang [mailto:tahoeengineering(--nospam--at)yahoo.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 15, 2002 8:14 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: RE:codifying engineering judgement, not possible


--- "Haan, Scott M." <HaanSM(--nospam--at)ci.anchorage.ak.us>
wrote:
> Forrest:
> 
> Some people have better judgement than others.  They
> should add a code
> provision to quantify which engineers are capable of
> using good judgement.
> It has been my experience that some engineers
> frequently use bad judgement
> while some sometimes use bad judgement while others
> normally use good
> judgement. Codifying something is a way of
> guaranteeing there is a uniform
> playing field. Normally codifying something ensures
> people using good
> judgement don't have the rug pulled out from under
> them by people using bad
> judgement.  Sometimes however the codes allow people
> using bad judgement to
> override people using good judgement.

Scott, I agree with your points but there is a flip
side to consider, that is, the reality of unintended
consequences. This excerpt about codes is from the
book by Phillp K. Howard called The Death of Common
Sense.

"the goal is to cover every eventuality so that every
the outcomes will be both certain and uniform for all.
 The use of flexibility and judgment by either the
complying person or the enforcer is to avoided at all
costs.  The words of the rules will tell us exactly
what to do and not to do, so that judgment will be
precluded.  The well-intentioned benefits of this
approach are to prevent mistakes and errors, and to
ensure fairness and non-discrimination, by means of
covering every thing in advance and by preventing use
of discretion and possible abuse by officials."

That all sounds good but it does not work.  The book
states that "the harder this method is pushed and the
more zealously refined, the worse it works.  Fairness
benefits backfire, the mistakes and errors aren't
prevented, and the worthy purposes of the regulations
likely to get lost in the shuffle."  Size and
complexity overwhelms efforts at compliance of even
the best of engineers (consider the average and the
below average ones).  As code violations become
unavoidable "enforcers, who supposedly have no
discretion, have complete power".  

I have read a lot of what you have posted and I am
sure that you are not one who would abuse this power,
but unfortunately I have encountered some who have.

Sincerely,
Randy Vogelgesang S.E.

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