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RE: Technology and Structural Engineering

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Fellow Engineers,
    For more than 30 years of my career I worked as a general contractor on may large and very complex commercial projects.  I was often frustrated when I knew that there were better methods to assemble the buildings that I was contracting.  So when I started my own engineering practice with an emphasis on DESIGN-BUILD projects where I could apply some new technology that would produce a higher quality -- less expensive project.  When I think of some new framing system for multi-floor residential projects, I collect the materials and mock-up the connection details in my shop just to experience what the field carpenters / welders must go through. 
I also invest most of my profits from engineering that I do in full scale testing of shear wall and floor diaphragm assemblies.  My  ultimate objective is to encourage manufactures to complete the process of obtaining the ICC Evaluation Reports so the new innovations can be utilized in the market-place.  
    I have gone though several DESIGN-BUILD proposals in an effort to promote new innovations and find that owners, architects and lenders are reluctant to invest in a "Better Way" until it has been proven first by other respected clients.  So even with full-size mock-ups and initial testing it becomes difficult to find projects where the new framing system technology can be practically applied. 
    It seem everyone complains about the high cost of building even common housing... at the same time the building codes are becoming more complex to implement and Plan Checking Agencies are forcing us to show ICC -Evaluation numbers for every component.  Rational engineering and field testing that use to be a way to get some new product are not being accepted.  
    It is my experience and opinion that the only way for technology to make a difference in the building industry is to encourage innovation by DESIGN-BUILDING.  For example look what has happened with the Post Tensioning for Structural Concrete during the past 30 years.  There are other systems that will have the same affect on the industry --- if only we can reduce the beau racy and attorneys who force us to have professional liability insurance..... then insurance companies that will not provide any insurance if they learn that engineers are working on something new and different.  
Jim L. Chatterley PE
Composite Framing Systems, Inc.
2723 Currier Ave., Simi Valley, California, 93065
805-520-3666   Fax 805-583-1434
-----Original Message-----
From: Chitra Javdekar [mailto:cdeshpan(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Tuesday, August 30, 2005 12:57 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Technology and Structural Engineering

Christopher, Thanks for your reply.  But I feel that as a profession, we as structural engineers have been somewhat lagging behind the other professions in embracing new ideas, and new developments in routine work.   What is the percent of time we spend each day following code provisions (while that is necessary) and how much in actual project conceptualization, defining goals, learning new ways to communicate and present information; to gather and analyze information regarding the structures we routinely design or have designed? 

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