Accuracy vs. Precision in Analysis

How many structural engineers does it take to change a light bulb?  None. Structural engineers don’t change. 

I was sitting across from a well-seasoned structural engineer who had started his own firm before I was born, and I listened as he spoke about our understanding of math, physics, and nature and how they relate to engineering design.  His point was that there had not been substantial changes in basic engineering theory, so why should he change the way his engineers worked (which was primarily by calculator, tables, pencil, and notepad).  

I opened up my laptop, grabbed the project drawings for a two story office building project they’d just completed, modeled the geometry, defined and applied gravity and lateral loads, ran the analysis, auto sized members against the current AISC design code, and created 80 percent complete line drawings for plans and frame elevations over the next 90 minutes, in the process changing the lateral load resisting system from brace frames to type two moment frames.

When I said I was finished and pointed out that my results were the same as his office’s design, he turned and said “Young man, you just did in 90 minutes what it took the eight engineers in this office the better part of two weeks to do.” He realized the business value in using software to reduce repetitive, time-consuming work and letting engineers DESIGN.

Next month we will begin a series of articles on business values and software implementation processes for structural engineers. 

Vol. 3 | Issue 1 | Jan. 2016

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Geoff Blumber
North America Channel Manager CADWorx & Analysis Solutions