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RE: We're Not Getting Older, We're Getting DUMBER [WAS: Any Young Engineers Out There?]

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Title: RE: We're Not Getting Older, We're Getting DUMBER [WAS: Any Young Engineers Out There?]


There are many reasons I could give to answer your question. But, I doubt you mean by your question that we should never update our standards? If I read between the lines of your question, I think you mean "why do the codes and standards change so often?" I was asked a similar question in an interview I did for Structural Engineer magazine recently. The question was "Why do the codes change so much?"

"My opinion on why structural provisions change so much is that load provisions like those promulgated by the Building Seismic Safety Council (BSSC) and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) are constantly changing and evolving. Wind, seismic, and snow load provisions have been changing with nearly every 3 year cycle of the building code for the last 2 decades.

"Groups such as the National Council of Structural Engineers (NCSEA), and material interest groups such as the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), who participate in the code change process, try to simplify or clarify structural provisions to make them more usable by structural engineers. However, with multiple interest groups proposing code changes, sometimes conflicts or unclear language is incorporated. Then, another attempt is made in the next code change cycle to clarify the conflict, resulting in more changes.

"A solution to this seems to be the move toward consensus-based referenced standards. ASCE's Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures, ASCE 7 is one such standard. If Chapter 16 of the International Code Council's (ICC) International Building Code (IBC) ever gets to the point where it simply references ASCE 7, then many of the conflicts in the code will be eliminated and changes will be less frequent.

"Similarly, when the materials chapters in the code that deal with concrete, steel, masonry, and wood design simply reference consensus standards, the same result is likely. My understanding is that material groups are moving toward a 6 year cycle on their standards development process, which should alleviate some concern about constantly changing standards."

I'll stay covered.

John "Buddy" Showalter, P.E.
Director, Technical Media
AF&PA/American Wood Council
1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036
P: 202-463-2769
F: 202-463-2791

The American Wood Council (AWC) is the wood products division of the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA). AWC develops internationally recognized standards for wood design and construction. Its efforts with building codes and standards, engineering and research, and technology transfer ensure proper application for engineered and traditional wood products.

The guidance provided herein is not a formal interpretation of any AF&PA standard.  Interpretations of AF&PA standards are only available through a formal process outlined in AF&PA's standards development procedures.


Subject: RE: We're Not Getting Older, We're Getting DUMBER [WAS: Any Young Engineers Out There?]
From: "Polhemus, Bill" <BPolhemus(--nospam--at)>
To: <seaint(--nospam--at)>


Here's a good, general question (and one bound to elicit an emotional response as well, I'll wager).

Why do you continue to engage in "code development"? Can there not be a case made that our material design codes are now "good enough," and we can dispense with this exhaustive work altogether?

Steel designers have been happily using the 1989 ASD-based MSC for more than fifteen years now, and buildings don't appear to be falling down of themselves due to inadequate design.

So what's the point?

(My turn to duck 'n' cover).