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RE: ASCE 7-05 Errors

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Allow me a few lines on this topic.

Granted, there are errors that wind up in the code. But, we are engineers. We are not cooks blindly using a cook book. At least we are not supposed to be. We are professionals. Any engineer using code provisions of which they lack familiarity, should practice due diligence and familiarize themselves with the commentary. The professional is implicitly obligated to vet code provisions with the intent offered in the commentary and properly apply first principals and mathematics.

Engineering is not painting by numbers. Back in engineering school, we did not just memorize and apply formulas. We developed proofs incrementally to develop formulas. We need to exercise the same diligence when it comes to applying codes.

Like I have stated before, I am a former simple iron worker. If I looked at the plans and found an improper weld symbol, I would ask for clarification. If I saw a butt weld CJP symbol for a 3/4" flange, I would not blindly just smear some weld on the joint. I knew it was a screw up by some pencil pusher, and I would challenge it until I got a weld symbol that made sense. Some iron workers may smear weld on it, most would not.

I am not trying to excuse the errors. I am just saying that we need to take some measure of personal professional responsibility.

Code changes are not made for the sake of making changes. I strongly take exception to that charge. The reason for the code change is required to be stated on any proposal for a change. "Just for the hell of it" is not a legitimate reason.

Most of those on code committee members serve because they hold a personal passion for their profession. The committees are composed of a mix of academics and practitioners. Believe me, as a former iron worker, I want to keep the code as simple as possible. I have to use the provisions to make a buck myself. But in order to create safe and serviceable structures, code simplicity is not always possible. Financially I would be better off NOT to serve code committees. I do so because I feel that I can make a positive contribution to my profession. Could I do better? Yes. As a professional, I owe it to my profession.

One of these days, I will relate how difficult it was to develop the seismic simple procedure. Yikes!!

Anyone truly interested can at the least become corresponding member to most of the committees. They don't have to travel at all. The provisions are e-mailed to those seriously interested. They can make their comments, and they will be heard. All this can be done sitting at a computer in one's underwear.

I welcome comments on anything that I write. I take exception to recriminations of code developers as being cavalier, having a lack of diligence, or a lack caring. I hold the really good code developers in very high regard. I do not put myself in that category. I am just a pawn in the game of code development. But I try to do what I can.

That will be one six pack!

Harold Sprague

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