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Industry Axis

Let's Take Back Our Profession

In the February 2017 issue of Structure magazine, the Structural Forum section contains a passionate debate on the complexity of ASCE 7-16. (For non-engineers, this is the standard that prescribes loads for buildings and is adopted into building codes.) It has become increasingly complex since its inception in 1982 and author Jim DeStefano argues that it is time for this to stop. He states that there is no evidence that more complex loading data actually creates a safer structure. He recommends "we take back our profession".

On this point I strongly agree. In fact, it has been my experience that increasing complexity leads to less safe buildings due to misapplication of code criteria. The code is so complex that for many simple structures it is far easier to just use older procedures and just slightly over-design the building. In most cases, it has little impact on the cost of construction.

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How To Pick Your Structural Engineer

I am always surprised how owners select the structural engineer for a project. 

Very often the selection is based on a long-standing, trust-worthy relationship.  This approach is most similar to the selection of an attorney, accountant or other professional service.  The personal relationship remains a valid way to approach the engineering selection process.

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