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wood design software vs. other design software

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Several of my coworkers recently met with design engineers in Southern California.  A topic of discussion was design software, or lack thereof for wood design.  These engineers were commenting that RAM and other design software for steel (and similar software for concrete) were much more “advanced” then currently available software for wood.


Although I do simple steel design for test fixture fairly often, our office is not in need of RAM or RISA3d et cetera for steel design, so I am a bit at a loss on exactly how these “tools” make steel design so much easier than wood design.  I get the impression that these software packages provide preliminary steel connection designs – which of course should be checked by competent design professionals!


I realize this is a very open ended question, but I’m trying to get a better feel for:


1.)    Are wood modules in RISA or others, comparable to steel modules?

2.)    What could be improved with current wood design software to get them to be “as good” as the steel software (if they are not)?


Thanks in advance,




Thomas D. Skaggs, Ph.D., P.E.
Manager, Product Evaluation

Technical Services Division
APA - The Engineered Wood Association
7011 S. 19th Street
Tacoma, WA 98466
ph: 253/565-6600
fx: 253/620-7235