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Re: Design Checking - Here and Now and Future of Engineering

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Yes, just yesterday, I came across our only other structural engineer on the island.  He is of the older generation, and he had something interesting to say, kind of like what Jordan is saying. 

Perhaps it will bring up some more topics.

He was discussing how he feels there is a very great difference between the message of a hand drawing, and a hand calculation, versus the computer age drawings and drafting.  He really feels there is a distinct difference.  For me, I came across it when I found myself in a more mechanical engineering course than a structural engineering course, having to work out monte carlo estimations and so forth.  Not my cup of tea.  I just found there was so much more computer oriented work than in the main portion of Structural engineering.

Eventually I succumbed to the computer, and now I work well with it.  But I think there is definitely a change.  There is a kind of separation between the person and the paper that takes place, and then there is submission to the computer.  At least that is how it feels.  We have submitted, because we have to produce faster.  We don't have enough fingers and hands to create the volume.

I think the designers that have carried out hand-calculations for their whole lives, probaby have a great deal to contribute to this question I have about checking.  What are ways that people check the integrity of a project when they get it already put together by an assistant engineer?

aside:  I also know about Taoism, and the cycle...  wood,fire, earth, metal, water... and repeat  / and, metal chops wood.

On 12/16/06, Jordan Truesdell, PE <seaint1(--nospam--at)> wrote:
Oh, you've gone and done it now. Bill was sleeping quietly, lurking. Now you've woken him up.

For what it's worth, I agree with you, though I'd substitute pencil and paper for a slide rule (I own one, but don't know how to use it). If you can't do it by hand, you probably shouldn't be doing it on a computer. That's not to say you should do it by hand - just that you could do it if you had to.

Some might say that our drawings would look better if the freshly-minted cad-techs knew how to draft with a pencil or pen. Based on the "old" (and modern) hand drawings we get, and how much easier they are to read than the two-line-weight plots I'd get if I didn't put thickness notes on my sketches/markups, I think I'm in that camp. 

I sketched some details for local designer to include on his plans - he's got an MA in architecture, and does residential plans with a pencil.  He brought the finished details by for me to check. Now, I'm pretty good with cad, but the stuff he did with a pencil made me jealous. Not only was it aesthetically pleasing, but is was more readable than my pixel-perfect cad prints.

Bill Polhemus wrote:
S. Gordin wrote:
In other words, any computer-aided design should not be entrusted into individuals who cannot do the same with a slide rule only. 
I have no clue how to use a slide-rule.

I'd better go back and void every calculation I ever did.

Oh, and cancel all the math classes I'm currently teaching at the local community college.
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