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RE: Making a difference

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Gail –


I apologize for responding to your reply on the list. I assumed that you had copied me separately on a reply that you sent to the list. And yes, I know what I said about assuming!  An unfortunate effect of being in digest mode. Again, my apologies.


I don’t doubt your technical competence, nor your skills as an author. What I have a problem with is the vehicle you used to air your concerns. You’ve obviously spent time going through these documents and noted technical and typographical errors. Why not send them to the SSEC? I don’t see any constructive result that comes from sending them to the list.


Thank you for taking back your generalization on Steel Tips. That is the other thing that bothered me, as I have found them to be very useful and did not want the list to get a different impression. I hope that you’ll send the errors that you’ve noted below to the SSEC as well.


I would like comment on “Use of Deep Columns in Special Moment Resisting Frames". I think that you’ve missed the importance of this article. I don’t think that it was intended to bash someone else’s research, rather to identify the limits of applicability of that research. This article points out that SAC limited the allowable depth of moment frame columns to 14” nominal based on a limited number of tests which showed undesirable behavior when deeper columns were used. There was a need to address this because the use of deeper columns is an effective way to limit drift in moment frames. The idea was that this research did not reflect the beneficial restraint that the slab provides in a composite steel frame –concrete slab system. The importance of this article is that is provides research and documentation that designers can use as part of their justification for the use of deeper columns in special moment frames. As far as writing style and grammar go, you may be correct. To be honest, if I can understand the intent, I usually don’t remember those aspects of an article.


Again, I’m sure that there are errors can be found in most technical documents. I guess we just disagree on how they are most effectively resolved.






-----Original Message-----
From: GSKWY(--nospam--at) [mailto:GSKWY(--nospam--at)]
Tuesday, December 16, 2003 7:25 AM
seaint(--nospam--at); HEATH MITCHELL; brettm(--nospam--at)
Subject: Making a difference


Well,  since an e-mail I sent privately was posted to the list, I guess I will elaborate.

With respect to my comments on the SSEC Steel Tips, when I made the comments, I had not read a lot of them.  I had only read some of the more recent ones.  Since I didn't think the ones I read were very good,  I didn't look at some of the others.  

Having looked at some of the others,  there are some that appear to be very good. In particular,  one by Popov and  one on weld material compatability that has very cute illustrations. There is one on roofs that seems to be mostly a marketing piece, but it also has some good information.  I take back my generalization on the Steel Tip articles.

The ones I had read, which caused me to make the comments, were "Seismic Design of Steel Column-Tree Moment Resisting Frames",  "Use of Deep Columns in Special Moment Resisting Frames", "Notes on Design of Steel Parking Structures Including Seismic Effects"  and two on shear walls.

With respect to the document  "Use of Deep Columns in Special Moment Resisting Frames",  this appeared to be nothing more than somebody taking the opportunity to bash someone else's work.  And taking 41 pages to do so,  by repeating the same things over and over.   It was also very badly written.

With respect to the one on steel column-trees, there was a lot of repetition.  I.e.,  

Page 8:  "By using semi-rigid connections, stiffness, strength, ductility and energy capacity can be easily manipulated and adjusted to reduce seismic forces, to limit displacements to acceptable levels and to improve seismic performance."

Page 9 (same section, four sentences later):   "In addition, the use of semi-rigid connections can increase damping, elongate the period of vibration, reduce stiffness to a desirable level and can result in a reduction of seismic forces and displacements."

This was confusing and made the document hard to follow.  There were also a number of sentences that did not seem to make sense.  The sentences seemed to have missing or extra words, so it was not entirely clear what was being said.  

For example:

Page 7:  "Therefore, if length of girder stub is less than 15% of the span, the paramaters gamma and m in above equations are very close and approximately can be assumed to be the same."

I think the statement itself is true,  but I don't think the "therefore" is correct, based on what the sentence follows.  But I am not sure.   It is quibbling to note that the word "approximately" was not necessary,  but the number of unnecessary and/or misused words contributed to problems with trying to understand the material.

With respect to the document  "Notes on Design of Steel Parking Structures Including Seismic Effects",  I think documents like this are a disservice to the engineering community.  I had some months ago picked out one sentence and discussed it as very bad engineering writing.  There were some that saw nothing wrong with that sentence, which is fine,  I happen to be pretty critical in that respect.  

But every page has several grammatical errors, which is probably more than what most people would consider as acceptable.  Errors and typos do happen, but even cursory review should pick up most of the subject-verb agreement errors.

I did not specifically discuss any of the information presented.  And a lot of the information presented is incorrect,  which I don't think is  appropriate for a document being represented as educational.   The authors really did not seem to have any understanding of what they were writing.

For example,  the statement (page 22):

"Sealers are liquids that are applied to the concrete surface for the purpose of either curing or resisting water penetration."

Note:  Something which is just used for curing is called a curing compound,  not a sealer.  

There are a number of commercial products that do both curing and sealing (aka cure 'n seals) but this is not what the document says.  I would also note that I don't think I have ever seen a cure 'n seal product used in a parking garage, except perhaps in a lobby area.

I believe engineers should be accountable for what they write,  just as they should be accountable for what they design.  The organizations that publish the documents should also be accountable.

Gail Kelley