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Making a difference ??

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The issue of what anybody is doing to make a difference is kind of interesting.  

Based on my criticism of a Structural Steel Educational Council publication,  I was contacted by a member of SSEC and asked to be a reviewer for their publications. The individual indicated that this would "benefit all engineers".   

However I was expected to do this on a volunteer basis;  the individual indicated that all reviewers were volunteers.  This particular individual worked for a steel producer,  in other words, a steel producer was paying him to volunteer his time.  But yet this individual thought I might like to spend my evenings and weekends helping to do promotional work for the structural steel industry.  This individual was mistaken.

The SSEC publications are actually very useful publications, for two reasons.  Number one, they are free.  Number two,  they are very good examples of very bad engineering writing.

To do my bit to make a difference, here are some selected sentences from  "Notes on Design Of Steel Parking Structures Including Seismic Effects" by Lanny J. Flynn, P.E., S.E. and Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, Ph.D., P.E.    

Page 16 -  "Internal stresses are reduced and better managed by utilization of appropriately spaced expansion joints, and construction joints – such as pour strips."

Note:  pour strips are not a type of construction joint.  Nor are they a type of expansion joint.

Page 18  - "Concrete ingredients that are beyond the basic aggregates – cement and water – are classified as admixtures that require particular formulation under the supervision and approval of the structure’s design engineer."

Note:  cement and water are typically not considered aggregates.  In addition,  the design engineer typically does not formulate admixtures.

Page 20 -  "Make certain that the concrete is well compacted under the top layer of reinforcing steel to avoid steel settlement during the concrete’s hardening. Concrete placed over settled bars is weak and can crack as a result."

Note:  reinforcing steel is usually supported on chairs.  The compaction of the concrete does not have a major effect on "steel settlement."  It is also not clear why concrete placed over "settled bars"  is weak.

Then there are these sentences (I have not added, deleted, or modified any words):

Page 14 - "To ensure long term durability of reinforced concrete decks and to avoid
corrosion, the use of epoxy-coated."

Page 26 - "All of the above structural systems can be used in parking structures with some being more economical than others are park."  

Given that the authors were described to me as being well respected in the structural steel industry,   I would be curious to see what someone who is not well respected would write. The individual from SSEC indicated that all SSEC documents are reviewed,  which makes this document even more embarrassing.

In general, SSEC documents seem to be "pay by the pound" literature, a type of literature made popular by authors like John McPhee.  I.e. the authors are paid for the length of the document.  They get paid more if they are able to expand 100 words into 500.  Or expand three pages into 61. Unfortunately,  to do this sucessfully requires at least a modicum (smidgen, dash, pinch) of writing skill.

But heck, the documents are available for free from the AISC web site, so what is there to complain about?  


Gail Kelley