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RE: Weak Rivets of Titanic, Weak Steel Bearing Walls of WTC, Weak Levees of New Orleans- Weak Gussets of I-35W Bridge= 6000 deaths[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
- To: <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
- Subject: RE: Weak Rivets of Titanic, Weak Steel Bearing Walls of WTC, Weak Levees of New Orleans- Weak Gussets of I-35W Bridge= 6000 deaths
- From: "Conrad Harrison" <sch.tectonic(--nospam--at)bigpond.com>
- Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2008 17:17:51 +0930
Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl wrote: "A dear friend of mine in the business school ... told me that "you engineers think that the planet earth is un-inhabited!" <end quote> Gee! I thought it was those in the school of business who thought the planet is uninhabited, or if it is inhabited then people are simply there for business to exploit. But it would be over generalisation to declare all accountants, economists and business graduates to be simply bean-counters, who cut costs by cutting corners, and cause death and injury. I suppose it was an engineer responsible for the global impact of the sub-prime mortgage crisis?? Economists and politicians with their appallingly poor mathematical models of the economy and of society, with business and political decisions based on, potentially cause more injury and are responsible for more deaths, than any designer of a physical product. Structural unemployment as industries close down and wide geographical areas are left without work. People starving and without fresh water and sanitation and shelter: not because humanity lacks the resources, but because no one has the imagination to find a practical means of distribution and transaction. The IMF and World Bank provide loans to pay off loans. Every transaction is counted in monetary exchange, and inflationary terms. Debits and credits creating the circulation of fictitious money. People able and willing to work, but business systems and regulations won't permit them to do so. Things are decaying not because we don't have the materials and labour to repair and maintain, but because we don't have the dollars to drive the system. In some countries people have been placed into debt for 5 generations: the people remain exploited and oppressed. But the people who demand the return are still living a life of excessive luxury, it is not as if they really need to be paid back with interest, or even paid back: probably wasn't theirs to own and give in the first place. So if anything it is the business graduates who seldom if ever think of the impact of their decisions and actions on human lives. As for structural performance: acceptable performance is a matter of subjective opinion. The real resistance of materials used in a structure are uncertain, and the actual actions which a structure will experience are uncertain. The requirements in the codes of practice are little more than a guess. When something fails the usual response is to increase the design load: the less than intelligent thing to do, but it requires no thought of structural behaviour and response. >From my view design has been fragmented. Architects gave rise to industrial designers. But instead of creating a better more able designer, it simply created a separate discipline. Why? And when did architecture split from building? When did engineering split from architecture and from building? Christopher Wren was an architect builder, and Thomas Telford an engineer builder: why now are we training applied mathematicians and calling them engineers? When did universities stop providing a universal education and start all this vocational rubbish: B.Arch, B.Eng, B.Tech, B.Econ, B.Bus? When Thomas Telford built a prototype bridge not only did he test the product but also the process of construction. The point of design is to plan and evaluate both product and process. If designers were being trained properly in the first place then there would have been no need for the emergence of quality assurance, total quality management, quality engineering, and quality robust design. Robust design requires proper consideration of variation. Variation throughout all processes that leads from concept to implementation and operation, maintenance and final disposal of a product. References to sub-standard components is a deliberate attempt to incite outrage, it plays direct to human emotions, and has nothing to do with quality and adequate performance. If builders want to use cheap imported steel because it is half the price of local steel: fine! On condition that the structure is designed to use that steel, and they use twice as much because it's only half the strength. Imported steel may not be to Australian standards, and therefore substandard, but it doesn't make it defective. Otherwise that would make US and UK steel defective. And what about Chinese steel: doesn't appear to be large scale reports of structures collapsing daily. Design to suit the materials and the fabrication processes. If have an unskilled labour market, don't go designing the structure to be reliant on high level trade skills, the structure will turn out defective. If do not produce process-specifications and do not supervise production, then do not be surprised when the building does not meet product-specifications. And why do we have a lack of trade skills? Because of social experiments: the education system turning people away from trades and pushing everyone into degrees. Everyone may get a degree in nuclear physics but someone still has to empty the bins. And there is no point designing a welded structure if there is no one who can weld it. A desire for learning to understand the world is not the same as the need to be qualified for employment. Having a vocation/occupation is a relatively new and dumb concept: humans are supposed to be intelligent and adaptable. Seems universities train humans to be anything but. Universities are factories which turn out obsolete product. We need a population which can solve problems, and implement solutions: not graduates in business or engineering. It is not simply a matter of designing the latest widget. Factories and other infrastructure need to be designed, developed and built: including schools and training facilities to develop the required labour force. When designing physical systems should not ignore human factors, for it is human factors that give rise to the needs which lead to the need for design in the first place. I think it was Hoover who said: "there are 1000's of people who can calculate stresses and strains, the great engineer is the one who can decide if we need the bridge in the first place." Things fatigue or decay with time. Who is it that decides to build housing down stream of a dam? Who makes a city dependent on a bridge? Who shifts industry out of a city and places it on the other side of a bridge? Who demands the bridges, and the dams, the hospitals and the schools? Who places houses on fertile soil, and pushes agriculture beyond the drought line? Who is it that plays games with financial values and pushes the houses in and the farmers out, and ignore all physical resources and social impacts: business graduates maybe? Scarcity of resources is an important factor in decision making, but currently the only scarcity of importance is money. The physical resources are there, the labour is available, and the need exists, but no money to stimulate them into action. The activities money is fuelling are typically inappropriate or the cause of many of our problems. That is the activity is purely financial, with no food, clothing or shelter produced. It is amazing that we can evolve a society with enterprises employing large numbers of people simply shuffling paper around all of which is no value to the success or failure of the enterprise. Making them unemployed is undesirable, but getting them to do something useful would be beneficial. Scarcity of resources means that we should get smarter at design. Products which fail in operation are wasteful of resources. Products which are difficult to make and result in rework or otherwise and simply result in discarding defective product are wasteful of resources. But it is also wasteful to simply keep increasing loads and demanding higher resistance of structures. Robust design and FMECA assist in designing less injurious modes of failure. But it is not just the immediate hazard to life that needs to be considered, it is also the loss of amenity and the economic cost of re-supply. It is a more serious loss of amenity when people don't get the houses or hospitals in the first place, because codes of practice have made them too expensive to build. It is a threat to life when a hospital is delayed because of unnecessary paperwork between concept and implementation. It is wasteful when engineers all over the world are conducting the same calculations for the same structural components and some less competent than others: yet all are getting approval. Get the calculations done once, published and publicly criticised. Performance based codes are to permit innovation and generate additional prescriptive solutions, not eliminate prescriptive solutions. Get things designed once and applied as often as is appropriate. Identify the variations which make the stock-standard solutions inappropriate and design new solutions to meet these additional needs. Designing a ship to use steel rivets when the infrastructure does not exist to supply steel rivets, but iron rivets are more plentiful is bad design. Designing a transportation system dependent on bridges and not having redundant pathways, and not having the necessary infrastructure to replace bridges within say hours: is bad design. So if it going to take weeks to construct a bridge in the first place, then it is probably a bad design. If we need a bridge and cannot afford to be without the bridge, then we need appropriate infrastructure to repair, maintain and replace the bridge: it is not simply a matter of designing a beam to span a gap. The emergent behaviour of the whole transportation network when a new road or bridge is introduced is highly unpredictable. Roads built to reduce congestion have a tendency to increase traffic on the roads, re-instating the earlier congestion. Building more bridges and roads may provide the prestigious multimillion dollar projects, but not necessarily the real solution. In similar manner domestic rainwater tanks have less prestige than dams and water filtration plants. The criticism to be aimed at engineers is a lack of engineering talent, no ingenuity, simply implementing stock-standard solutions taught by universities, rather than finding design-solutions to the real problem. Human needs are seen in terms of available design-solutions, rather than the real design problems to be solved. But implementing better solutions is hampered by: politics, scarcity of time and scarcity of money. When it comes to building and construction little engineering effort appears to have gone into the processes. Hence a lack of quality on site, and unacceptable levels of industrial accidents in construction. But how can engineers contribute to the processes when wasting time crunching numbers to make decisions they have made a 100 times already. Also why are so few construction and manufacturing companies owned by engineers? Why are so many production enterprises started and owned by trades people? Why do engineers prefer to start paper shuffling businesses? Why don't engineers ensure they are in control of production/construction by owning the contracting enterprise? But then what can we expect when professors and universities fracture knowledge and disseminate such a narrow understanding of the world? Architecture, engineering, economics, business, law and politics all need integrating into a single qualification to create the leaders of tomorrow. But with teachers focused on irrelevant depth not likely to be a practical proposition. Teachers believe they are doing good, and have good intentions, and are otherwise ignorant of the harm they cause. Instead of publicly accusing, blaming and criticising people and organisations, it would be far better to seek out the real causes of the problem and fix it there. The B.Eng and licensing are clearly unreliable indicators of technical competence. Improving the examination process may improve competence with respect to compliance with codes of practice: but so does programming a computer and generating prescriptive solutions for common applications, and then publishing those solutions. Having more standardisation, with more published prescriptive solutions, and enforcing compliance with, is potentially far better than unwarranted variations being introduced and the labour force not being able to get proficient with any techniques: leading to defects in production. Human factors are given poor attention throughout most systems and by most people. We should not be criticising individual professions, for it is the existence of specialised professions that is largely part of the problem. Few people are looking at the whole, and the whole is different than the sum of its parts: emergent behaviour is important to design. Tweak a business to make it more efficient and the whole of an industry or nation becomes inefficient. Finding the right balance is difficult. Standardise and people get lulled into a false sense of routine and security. Give people too many options and decisions to make before they can perform otherwise simple tasks and they get mentally fatigued and frustrated and make mistakes. Code writers ignore human factors when they write codes of practice. Design is complicated and all designs have some flaw, which someone, somewhere will consider to be a serious defect. At least with a car and other products, end-users can always choose another brand see if that performs any better to their requirements. With bridges, dams, and buildings we are stuck with defects for a long time: and defects which maybe hidden. Defective gusset plates and rivets are minor issues. What permitted such defective components to be installed? And what put all the people on the titanic? What causes people to need bridges, dams and multistorey buildings? What causes people to live where there are earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, hurricanes and tornados? What causes people to want an unprecedented level of safety? What causes people to want longer lives, yet complain of being bored to death in a retirement home? The environment is dangerous, life is dangerous. We cannot really remove the dangers only control the consequences. So if bridges are a problem. How are the construction processes to be improved so that bridges can be removed and replaced at a rapid pace? If cannot develop adequate construction technology: then what? If components in a bridge structure are not compatible with the desired performance of the bridge: what is going to be done about it? How is traffic flow to be constrained without having a huge social impact, resulting in business closures, people loosing incomes, and others committing suicide? Human factors are difficult to gage. Building levee banks and dykes and populating the flood plains is not all that sensible. Ultimately the systems will prove inadequate. People whose very existence is dependent on technology have to accept that ultimately the technology will fail and lives will be lost. Education systems isolating people from their natural environment and failing to make them aware of dependence on technology is responsible for loss of lives and failure to adapt to changing circumstances. An economic system that also prevents people from adapting and taking necessary action is also responsible for the loss of lives. Business schools need to be teaching new models of business. Strange idea but business exists to provide goods and services which profit the end-users not simply generate profits for the business owners. The profits to the end-users are not monetary. And on and on I can go! Regards Conrad Harrison B.Tech (mfg & mech), MIIE, gradTIEAust mailto:sch.tectonic(--nospam--at)bigpond.com Adelaide South Australia ******* ****** ******* ******** ******* ******* ******* *** * Read list FAQ at: http://www.seaint.org/list_FAQ.asp * * This email was sent to you via Structural Engineers * Association of Southern California (SEAOSC) server. To * subscribe (no fee) or UnSubscribe, please go to: * * http://www.seaint.org/sealist1.asp * * Questions to seaint-ad(--nospam--at)seaint.org. Remember, any email you * send to the list is public domain and may be re-posted * without your permission. Make sure you visit our web * site at: http://www.seaint.org ******* ****** ****** ****** ******* ****** ****** ********
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