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RE: Analysis of Loads on Solar Panels

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Well, as a semi recent grad myself I can vouch for a lack of practical experience in college.  In our final year design course we did see some "whole" buildings - but in both steel and concrete they were merely the simplest form a box one could get. And neither dealt with either the capacity of the diaphragm itself or the different assumptions/methods one can take in distributing the lateral forces. Only a pure base shear approach. I was fortunate to have a professor who preached the number and value of assumptions made in any given situation - probably the most useful of lessons throughout my college career. Something that was very useful in my accepting the fact that every engineer does things differently than the next(and almost all think theirs is the ONLY way!) But I was still far from out-of-the-box ready when I took my first SE job.  

BUT, from both personal experience and in helping others come from college to become a valuable member of the team, I also recognize that recent grads rapidly (within a 6 to 12 months) become more capable and knowledgeable than those without a degree but years of experience - and are mostly paid much less; for the time being at the least.  

IMHO it is worth spending a bit of time getting them up the first portion of the learning curve. 

My last 'project' only took me one week before she was just as valuable to me as any cad technician in the office. This was after the 'sink or swim' approach had failed on her.  And all I did was simply have her sit next to and watch me work, while I explained everything I was doing, answered questions and occasionally asked her questions to see what she had picked up on and what I still needed to work on with her.  After that she would still have a few questions a day, but overall she went from "a couple more mistakes and shes gone" to being one of the more valuable people in the company.  She's now director of something for the state!  It just takes patience.


-----Original Message-----
From: Conrad Harrison [mailto:sch.tectonic(--nospam--at)bigpond.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 9:56 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: RE: Analysis of Loads on Solar Panels

Richard,

Currently have a near graduate civil engineer in the office, completes final
year project next week and expects to graduate. Painting by numbers would
seem to be the requirement for understanding. Oh! And photographs to know
what the building looks like: a building which doesn't exist yet.

Since they study the structural codes in civil engineering, I was expecting
more familiarity with such codes, and more familiarity with the components
of a building. He showed me his lecture handout for wind loading, and all it
covers is wind uplift on an isolated rafter, and no real explanation of what
is going on. Not exactly assessing a whole building for wind loading. So not
really covered wind loading.

As for pictures. Well drawing a freehand sketch, a free body diagram would
be useful. But not in lecture notes, so why would he start there? Plus there
is the excuse: "I can't draw". Can only get better at drawing if keep
practicing, by doing: and no one is expecting a work of art.

So doesn't appear to be any real benefit to studying civil engineering in
preference to mechanical.

Looks like I am going to be spending a lot of time providing assistance and
some form of training. Going to be interesting.



Regards
Conrad Harrison
B.Tech (mfg & mech), MIIE, gradTIEAust
mailto:sch.tectonic(--nospam--at)bigpond.com
Adelaide
South Australia

 



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