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Paying for clarification

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I received an e-mail invitation to a one-day Seminar to be held on 1/15 and again on 2/18 featuring S.K. Ghosh, Susan Dowty and Kenneth Luttrell.  For a fee plus airfare and accommodations (if necessary) I can fly from Palm Springs to Sacramento or Oakland to obtain clarification on the 2009 IBC new “Simplified Wind Design Provisions” (based on the ASCE 7-05/2006 IBC), Redundancy factor for Seismic Categories D through F, Rigid or Flexible Diaphragm flow chart to help  identify when to you each procedure, and other important topics that have plagued us in 2008 since California adopted the ASCE 7-05/2006 IBC into the 2007 California Building Code. Before I comment, let me say that I am not criticizing Dr. Ghosh, Ms. Dowty or Mr. Luttrell for promoting a profit based or even if the earnings were donated to the profession a series of costly seminars.

 

My complaint is that I purchased the proper code manuals and accessory materials expecting to find the interpretations in a clear and concise format, flow-chart or explanation as I would expect to receive from the above seminar.  I believe that the code publications committees had a responsibility to the engineering community to define the design process with as little ambiguity and with as much clarity as possible. For the engineers that I have spoken to in California, more than 80% of them have some level of confusion with how to interpret the code and coordinate the ASCE and IBC publications.  I recent having to pay an additional amount of money that I can no longer afford to be sold another course or seminar only pay for something I believed I paid for already.

 

This reminds me of the Marx Brother’s “Day at the Races” when Groucho goes to the race track to place a two dollar bet. He is approached by Chico who tells Groucho that he can bet on a winner if only he buys the breeder’s guide. Groucho dishes out the money only to find the guide is in code. Chico tells him the code will cost extra and Groucho dishes out again to buy the code. Now the code identifies the jockey and and track information but does again Groucho will need to pay for yet two more books to identify the jockey and track information. Having no money left, Groucho cannot place his has bet, yet Chico places his with Groucho’s money and wins.

 

So who is the winner in this code creation debacles?  Why publish and enforce a code that few can understand or properly comply with? Each trip to the building department reminds me of the mid 80’s when we wrote the draft for RGA 1-91 for seismic Retrofit in the City of L.A. to replace or augment Division 88. At the time, each submittal required special approval and plan checks were almost always a mutual learning experience devoted to debate.

 

I don’t want the plan checker signing off my work because I am a 60-ish year old white haired engineer who he believes has the great knowledge of experience to rely upon. I want to understand what I am doing and be sure that what I put on paper is properly thought out and not a risk to the public. Younger engineers have a tougher time than I might and I don’t believe I am any smarter or have any inside information than they do – in fact I would as much learn from an engineer much younger than I who has the understanding of what should have been presented to the practitioner in a clear and concise manner with examples at no additional price.

 

Am I the only one to think this way? Again, I am not criticizing education for those who have problems understanding the code after receiving a clear and non-ambiguous document that I expected to have originally paid for, but I doubt that even the seminar listed above could resolve all of this engineers questions in the one day seminar.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Dennis S. Wish

 

Dennis S. Wish, PE

California Professional Engineer (C-41250)

Structural Engineering

54625 Avenida Bermudas

La Quinta, CA. 92253

 

Phone: 760.564.0884 (phone, fax and messages)

dennis.wish(--nospam--at)verizon.net