Need a book? Engineering books recommendations...

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

RE: Future Generations of Engineers

[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Gary,

You just point out part a variation on the problem.  Again, most people
don't understand what the structural engineer does.  But, because we do
something that "seems" so "ordinary", they are willing to take the word of
someone who appears to know "stuff" in the realm of structural engineering
because of their close proximity job wise rather than the structural
engineer.

Take your example.  Your customer came to him because the ready-mix driver
thought the footing was too big.  To your customer, this guy is in the
construction industry, same as you, so he MUST know how big a footing
should be.  Now, if your customer really had a true understanding of what
it is that you do vs. what it is the ready-mix driver does, then there
would have been no issue.

A similar example to put it into perspective.  You are at the hospital for
some test.  Your doctor has just gone through the test results with you
and pronounced that you are fine...there is nothing wrong indicated in the
tests.  On the way out, you are being wheeled by an orderly (hospital
policy, let's say) and you drop your test results.  The orderly picks them
up and can't help reading them.  He then say, "I have never seen test
results like this.  There seems to be something wrong."  Now, are you
going to worry and go back to your doctor with this?  Probably not,
because you have a MUCH better understanding of what the doctor does vs.
what the orderly does, even though both "appear" to be in the medical
profession/area.

We are in a profession that is not really understood well, yet appears to
be "common" enough thing that ANY one can do.  After all, ANYONE can slap
some boards together with some nails and bolts and BINGO, they have a
deck.  But, will that deck support the necessary loads under the critical
loading condition?  Maybe and maybe not.

Now, there are other areas of engineering that don't suffer from the same
problem, as you pointed out.  MEs and EEs don't usually have as much
second guessing on the design of electrical systems nor plumbing systems
nor heating/cooling systems.  But, that is because those things are not
seen as something that just anyone can do.  Anyone can build a deck, etc
but not too many people will play with electrical circuits.

The end result is that we do something that seems SO common, but is so
misunderstood that even though people don't usually understand what it is
that we do, they feel much more comfortable second guessing us.  While it
is always good to ask questions and to "question" the reasons of any
decision of any professional if you feel there is some thing fishy, many
times it is a little too far in our profession.  But, then I look at this
as an opportunity to "educate" someone.

HTH,

Scott
Ypsilanti, MI

On Sun, 27 Jul 2003, Gary Hodgson & Assoc. wrote:

> Scott,
> I disagree with your first paragraph.  Everybody
> may know a little about medecine or law but not
> enough to criticize their practitioner.  However
> everybody thinks they know how to build something
> and they can get quite critical because they
> believe that we are always heavying things up to
> cover our butts.  Nobody criticizes electrical oe
> mechanical engineers the way they go after the
> structural guys.
> This reminds me of the time a customer came
> storming into my office accusing me of wasting his
> money by over-sizing footings.  After a minute or
> two of ranting, he let me ask where he got this
> idea.  He said the ready-mix concrete truck driver
> told him they were the biggest footings he had
> ever seen for a building of that size! A--H---
> Gary
>
> ******* ****** ******* ******** ******* ******* ******* ***
> *   Read list FAQ at: http://www.seaint.org/list_FAQ.asp
> *
> *   This email was sent to you via Structural Engineers
> *   Association of Southern California (SEAOSC) server. To
> *   subscribe (no fee) or UnSubscribe, please go to:
> *
> *   http://www.seaint.org/sealist1.asp
> *
> *   Questions to seaint-ad(--nospam--at)seaint.org. 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: http://www.seaint.org
> ******* ****** ****** ****** ******* ****** ****** ********
>


******* ****** ******* ******** ******* ******* ******* ***
*   Read list FAQ at: http://www.seaint.org/list_FAQ.asp
* 
*   This email was sent to you via Structural Engineers 
*   Association of Southern California (SEAOSC) server. To 
*   subscribe (no fee) or UnSubscribe, please go to:
*
*   http://www.seaint.org/sealist1.asp
*
*   Questions to seaint-ad(--nospam--at)seaint.org. 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: http://www.seaint.org 
******* ****** ****** ****** ******* ****** ****** ********