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RE: Technology and Structural Engineering

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I don't believe this profession is driven to dramatic improvement by technology. Advances in technology continue to provide SE's with valuable tools, but they DO NOT turn us into better engineers -- in fact, many times the latest and greatest gadgets can actually make us lazy engineers. The most important abilities or qualities of a successful SE do not depend a great deal on technology and have not changed much over the years:

1. Ability to visualize a structural connection or building section before it is committed to paper,

2. Ability to SIMPLIFY a structural system enough to truly understand the mechanisms that make it work,

3. Ability to recognize not only personal limitations, but also the limitations of the tools and data that we use,

4. Ability to communicate a design clearly to people from a variety of different backgrounds and levels of education,

5. Ability to solve problems and synthesize the contribution of different disciplines to possible solutions,

6. Ability to exercise patience and carefully/strategically solve conflicts,

7. Ability to thoroughly research an issue that you aren't completely clear on,

8. Ability to understand and properly interpret Building Codes & other Standards,

9. Ability to mentor and train others

10.  Ability to effectively manage time between projects, training, networking, and making a difference in people's lives.

You've mentioned some, such as communication & goals, but I fail to see how these things that really make a difference in creating better structural engineers are dependent on technological advancements. Our approach to and understanding of structural mechanics will never change and technology will never turn us into better engineers.  There are certainly BETTER facts and data for us to use because of advances in technology ... but data falls into the "tools" category as well.  TOOLS don't turn us into better structural engineers.


Dave K. Adams, S.E.
Lane Engineers, Inc.
Tulare, CA
E-mail:  davea(--nospam--at)
-----Original Message-----
From: Chitra Javdekar [mailto:cdeshpan(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Monday, August 29, 2005 8:04 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Technology and Structural Engineering

Hello all:
We all know how much technology has transformed the way we think, operate and manage our daily lives.  This raises a few related questions:  How much of the technological change have the veterans of this forum have seen?  And I do not mean just the emails and internet..  Has the way we look at the problem (or solution) today changed since the last 10 years or so?  Also, how has structural engineering as a profession changed in the past 20 years?  Are we up to the speed in adapting to the technological change (where are we as compared to other fields)?  Or is something lacking?   I would like to hear your opinions..
Chitra N. Javdekar, Ph.D.
Prudent Solutions Inc.
30 High Street
Somerville MA 02144

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