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Re: Any Young Engineers Out There?

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Scott Melnick already addressed some of your misconceptions about AISC and
AISC membership.  The key thing is that MSC (Modern Steel Construction)
has very little to do with your membership.  I believe you can still get
that free WITHOUT being an AISC member (I had a MSC "subcription" long
before I was an AISC member).  Beyond that the key thing to realize is
that one of the big reasons why AISC is able to provide their codes/spec
free in PDF form is that they have a major revenue stream that
organizations like ASCE, ACI, and TMS don't have...the money that Scott
mentioned from mills, fabricators, and steel service centers.  This is
because AISC serves as both a trade (i.e. central focus is to push the
use of steel...that is marketing) and technical (i.e. to
produce technical information/publications that make the use
of steel easier/friendlier) organization.  The other major material
organizations are NOT trade organizations in addition to being technical
organizations.  Thus, they lack a significant revenue stream that could
subsidize their code/standard production efforts.

As to memberships in organizations like ASCE or ACI, I will be the first
to agree that in general you don't get a whole lot of bang for the buck.
In fact, I likely spend more money for memberships then I save when buying
updated codes/standards from those organizations.  I would likely be
better off financially by just buying the books at non-member prices and
not being a member at all.

But, I look at those memberships as a form of "giving back" to my
profession.  Do you donate money to charities?  If so, then if you are
looking for something for your money then why do it?  After all, you don't
get anything back from a charity typically.  You do it cause you want to
help others and because you feel that the cause is good.  I look at many
of these organizations in a similar manner.  ACI (of which I am not
currently a member) produces lots of potentially useful information on
concrete that I may or may not use, but certainly others will.  The same
goes for ASCE and TMS and others.  In addition, ASCE tries (somewhat
debatable at times) to "better" our profession.

Thus, I don't look at those memberships as pure financial, bottom line
type decisions.  If I did, then I likely would not be a member of any
organization, even AISC which does give much more "bang for the buck" with
its membership.

And for the record, the next ASCE 7 will be ASCE 7-10 (i.e. 2010).  They
are technically going to a 6 year cycle, but are doing only 5 years in the
next one to get 1 year "ahead" of the material standards such as ACI 318.

As to updating your codes, I certainly would encourage you to do it as
frequently as possible, but I can certain understand you or others might
not.  Personally, I keep up to date...and I am essentially a one man shop
(the company that I work for part-time does not pay for any of my
publications).  This has been true when I worked for large A/E firms...I
would personally maintain my OWN library with current codes and
publications.  Those companies (and my current one does too) did buy some
of the "key" codes and standards, but I found it to be much easier on
myself to not have to hunt down the company copy.  But that was my choice
and I certainly don't look down on those that decide not to follow in my
foot steps.  But, I frankly don't have much sympathy for people who
complain about the cost of codes, etc.  If it really such a problem, then
there are plenty of other professions out there that are much less
expensive to be in (burger flippin' comes to mind).  In the end, I look at
buying textbooks, codes, and other structural publications as the price
that I must pay for choosing to be a structural engineer.  They are the
"tools" of my trade.


Adrian, MI

On Wed, 25 Jan 2006, Jordan Truesdell, PE wrote:

> Oh, believe me, whenever I have someone walk in my door to get an
> engineered plan for a log home, that's exactly the response I get.  Same
> with 10' basement walls. And the guy who wanted to put up a 16' tall
> garage with 12' of backfill on one side, and then chaffed at my $600 fee
> because it only cost him $300 for his drafter friend to do the plan and
> elevations in his spare time, completely ignoring the mechanics of
> structures.
> No, it's not necessarily just the publications, but the fees for
> "membership" that include things like multiple copies of the internal
> magazine, or just that they fund a magazine at all. Or that the funds go
> to lobbying, marketing, and other various pieces.  Personally, I think
> the AISC offers some of the best products for my membership dollar -
> like the design guides on line, which is why I'm still a member.  In
> fact, I've not renewed most of my memberships - they're just not
> providing me "value".
> What do I do now that I don't' get the "discount" price? I skip
> revisions, instead. For me, ASCE went from 95 to 02, and its likely that
> I won't update 'til 08 (will there be an '08, or are we into 6 year
> updates now?). ACI-318? The copy on my shelf is 95, and is getting
> updated this year.  Masonry? 99 to 05. How does buying a non-member book
> at $200 every six years help them more than me buying a $140 "member
> priced" book every 3 years. I don't really know, but I don't have the
> budget for retail-priced books every cycle. Maybe when I can spread the
> cost over three or four engineers, but not when its just me, and half my
> time is spent in admin or drafting.
> Heck, books have gotten so expensive that Virginia Tech has stopped
> having their students buy the books, and instead sells their internal
> notes for classes - usually for about $20.  Okay, I don't know that cost
> is the reason, but when I peruse the shelves of the VT bookstore, I'm
> finding more and more classes have no textbook or supplemental books.  I
> believe that neither undergrad steel class has a text this year, and I
> know that the geotech retaining wall & foundations didn't have a
> textbook - just a 3 ring binder for $17 from the department.
> I suspect you could liken it to your prescription meds. It wouldn't seem
> quite so bad if all that money was going for research, but since drug
> companies spend more on marketing than on research, it's a little hard
> to swallow the non-negotiated prices they charge. It seems like there's
> a lot of waste in the price of those products.  BTW - have you looked
> into the HDHP/HSA plans? If you're paying for meds out of pocket anyway,
> and you don't have too many office visits, it'll probably lower your
> monthly premium a good bit, and the leftover you can put away tax free
> (to use toward the medical stuff, anyway).
> Jordan
> Scott Maxwell wrote:
> >And I sure that some "joe-smoe" homeowner is rubbed raw by that fact that
> >he had to shell out hundreds if not thousands of dollars to you just to
> >have his/her house built.  And it is "required" by law.  Not to mention
> >the fact that some moron builder likely was telling the home owner that
> >engineering fees are just a "tax" on their home and you are really needed
> >to do the engineering and that what he/she wanted to do was just fine
> >cause he/she has been "building them that way for years".
> >
> >Just cause you don't like the cost of something doesn't mean that it is
> >not an appropriate, warranted cost.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
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