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RE: ASCE 07

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Conrad Harrison

I've been studying bamboo as a concrete reinforcement and have reports, mostly from German academics. I hear that there are, in USA, swimming pool concrete liners reinforced with bamboo over 100 years old. No corrosion and still functioning but code excluded. Something that works is less likely to affect code.

Industrial psychology results. After Kennedy's bay of pigs, a study was made, on the number of people in the president's decision group, that study determined; a meeting that exceeded some number around 10 participants, results in a loss of effective decisions.

The Structure magazine April 14-16 titled "Codes and Standards" cited accidents and resulting codes changes, increased independent reviews, litigation, money fines and license suspensions. This article clearly states code change is the response to accidents. There are assumptions being made that Industrial Psychologist may already know are false or they at least know how to prove or disprove the basis that our engineer friends are controlling our design world.

"lessons learned from failure" should be better stated as "hypothesis developed from failures". Investigations subject to scientific rigor can rarely be made at a failure site. Forensics practiced at a murder scene just do not exist for a structural review. Earthquake chasers rarely spend the weeks needed on one failed building to know who and how. A murderer is tested for psychological sanity, and motive but almost never such is done for a designer of a failed structure.

Forensics results, most of time, are used for monetary compensation between insurance companies. Most settlements are made out of court and out of the public's eye. Evidence is usually locked up as part of the settlement agreement. Experts are usually working with restraint to discovery sporting one attorney's interests. There is little of the transparency kind that is needed to prevent future failures.

Who is not, why, and how do we stop the design that is not using the needed total analysis. We know all structures must have a load path, compatibility of deflections, safety factors and additional ductility to warn us of an eminent failure. We know drawings need to be easily read and representing the intended design. We know that too much specification should be in a separate book for only the lawyers to read and the simple forms on the drawings. The maintenance schedule for the owner should have a simplified summary at the front when the body of the text is so complicated that the owner will not read it.

We need to put a lid on it, like insurance companies who refuse to add policies just after an earthquake disaster strikes the news, we need to put a failure in perspective with all exposures to risk. Stop saying its the brick or the sheet rock and focus more on the level of risk we have accepted in all structures including those still standing. Imagine the engineer at a disaster in front of a TV camera who speaks...

"We need to examine the holistic and sustainable basis of performance. Adding money and effort to this kind of structure may leave the risk of another type of structure or system to happen more often than this type."

How many is too many in a design decision process? How much code will exceed control and result in diminished quality of design? How much change in behavior results in the threat of punishment? What can be done with individual, company, and design team counseling?

I propose a law that all proposed construction code, law provisions and authors of those, be reviewed by a qualified industrial psychologist. I  understand to not personally want more code and more design review, but motives may vary. Other engineers have a say in this business to keep us in check. Industrial psychologists have no legal position in our design system and so we loose that application of a scientific check and balance.

Is BIM improving safety where everyone can dabble in all expertise's shapes and forms? Probably yes. Or maybe, more information is accessible to the less informed who then can apply pressure on a structural design by negotiating and bartering systems between owner, mechanical engineer, architect, local jurisdiction and competing structural engineers. If each of those groups have at least two on the project we have already exceeded the limit of 10 or so.

Limiting of the number of influences. What about the old bridge design method where smaller teams designed thier own section of the bridge? I can not say what the solution is. WE NEED INDUSTRIAL PSYCHOLOGISTS to check up on what we are assuming will make things better.

Tipping point: How many volumes of code will it take when it becomes clear it just code clubbing? What is the limit of hours to read all of the code text that will result in an increase in design failure? What is the limit of daisy-chained paragraphs that one paragraph references?

What kind of structural testing will rule out a bad designer. What if it is better to license those properly schooled but also who know what they do not know? Subtract, big time, from a score for bad answers.

Maybe we should test applicants to know that a peer review and building permit does not demonstrate the design is correct. A peer review only has a possibility to improve quality and conformance to standards.

David Merrick






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