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Re: Technology and Structural Engineering

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On Aug 29, 2005, at 10:03 AM, Chitra Javdekar wrote:

How much of the technological change have the veterans of this forum have seen?
Enormous changes in the tools, lots of changes in materials, but I think the overall job--the process of communicating instructions to artisans who take materials found in nature and give them a specific usefulness--hasn't changed all that much.

Lots of us are now able to conduct a professional practice with nothing like the staff that was once required, and handle certain tasks without the administrative help or technical assistance we used to need. We do our own reports and bookkeeping with computer software, make our own calculations and drawings with other software, communicate almost instantaneously with all sorts of things. But buildings look pretty much the same. It's not clear whether all the new technology has made any difference in cost or schedule. Road repair and airport additions--the most common civil engineering projects I notice--seem to take longer these days, but there may be reasons for that.

No question that things are different. Cars have improved a lot since I bought my first new car in 1962, but the price is about the same fraction of my salary that they were in 1962. And they all seem to look alike. US automakers have lost a lot of market share, and even the giant GM is having problems.

Aircraft are hugely expensive relative to the time when I got out of school. There are fewer companies who make them and many fewer are sold. Fewer crashes occur, but air travel is a lot bigger a pain in the ass than it used to be.

I have this vague feeling that we've changed enormously as the result of technology, but not all the changes have been improvements.
Christopher Wright P.E. |"They couldn't hit an elephant at
chrisw(--nospam--at)   | this distance" (last words of Gen.
.......................................| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)

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