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RE: Steel Beam Design Program

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David, I have to agree with your "take" here. The only time I use design software for "regular work"* is when I'm designing a whole frame (or large part of one) with many members. Otherwise, however I can get the structural analysis done is ho-kay by me.
Then I typically use things I've developed for doing the actual design--or if I don't have such, hand calcs. It does you good to do hand calcs every now and then, especially as the design codes (or in reality, their nomenclatures**) change.
* - That is, work that I do often. I do have exceptions, such as wood (dimension lumber or engineered wood products) which have decent "helper" software such as WoodWorks, TJ-Beam, BC-Calc, etc. Also, I'll "borrow" someone's version of PRESTO from time to time, since I don't do prestressed concrete beams very often at all and I haven't bothered to write my own routines; if I found myself doing a lot of this I would go to Mathcad most likely.
** - Most of the time you'll find that "Changes" in the code don't actually amount to a difference in the design result. Some of the stuff I see is just "a different way of looking at the same thing" (e.g. "Three-Second Gust" vs. "Fastest Mile" wind speed in ASCE 7).
I knew an "old timer" once*** who still designed concrete according to (I believe it was) the 1956 ACI code, because it was the last one that used "bond strength" for rebar as well as "working stress". I wouldn't dare; I always imagine myself sitting in the witness box with an opposing attorney asking me why I'm not current in my building code knowledge.
*** - I soon will have to retire that euphemism from current use, since a few years from now I'll be eligible for AARP membership--although my wife insists that "ARC membership" is more appropriate, in which case she says "why wait?"

From: David Maynard [mailto:davemaynard(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Thursday, April 28, 2005 12:43 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: Steel Beam Design Program

 ...  I use STAAD Pro for the analysis.  I use this just to get beam forces (moments, axials, shears).
From there, I go to my personally developed spreadsheets. ... 

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