How Can You Determine Quality Structural Engineering Software

In this second of four parts, we discuss the various points important to consider in order to assure that the environment of computer use by structural engineers has a minimum level of quality. To realize the benefits that today’s technology provides, we continue to explore how does one make a determination of quality structural engineering software.

In particular, it is important that:
  • No product should be considered without properly qualifying and certifying the vendor of the software

  • No product should be used for engineering computations unless it has been fully and properly validated and certified pursuant to industry-accepted standards of engineering software QA and QC

  • The engineer must apply the same high degree of care and detail when validating software accuracy and checking actual computer results as is applied when using time-tested and traditional procedures for checking hand computations

  • The engineer must use their best judgment, full depth of knowledge and range of experience when using the computer or otherwise by a careful supervision of a competent, experienced, knowledgeable and responsible engineer

  • Engineering managers must set examples, provide incentives and training programs for the proper use of computers in the engineering design decision-making process, as it takes a major commitment and investment to reap the most valuable benefits

  • The engineering education community must recognize the importance of including in their curricula the issues of how the computer environment impacts areas of:

    • Engineering liability
    • Quality of engineering computations
    • Procedures for assuring software quality
    • Qualifications of engineering computer professionals

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Vol.2 | Issue 6 | June 2015
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In order to Verify and Validate (V&V) each new version of GT STRUDL prior to its release, over 5,000 test problems are used to V&V the new version, the results of which are stored, and among which around 350 test problems are documented in the four-volume GT STRUDL Base Verification Manual. 
This is the Part 3 continuation of the 2015 February Tip on nonlinear analysis consequences and impacts on steel design procedures.

The second major consequence is the significantly increased difficulty of designing steel members. In particular, when a linear analysis is performed, analysis results are always achieved without any consideration of structure instabilities. Following the linear analysis, code checking will identify members that fail the code checks and these are the members that must be increased in size.

However, when each nonlinear analysis is performed, if instabilities are detected for one or more of the design loading conditions, there is no easy way to know which members to select to increase in size so that the resulting structure will be stable for all design loading conditions. This can cause another nontrivial increase in the cost of structural engineering of steel frame structures.

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Leroy Emkin
GT STRUDL Executive Technical Director
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