CivilStructural.com.my 25 Aug 2013
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Pros and cons for civil and structural consulting engineers on computer software(Beginner)

As our country getting more advances and forwarding to 2020 vision, there will be more and more dependent on computer software. The using of computer software will bring up a numbers of pros and cons to engineer.

Whenever we are doing business, we are looking for profit. As civil and structural consulting business getting more and more competitive, professional fees are getting lower, difficult to get experience staff and higher operating cost. There is the time to look into the help of IT software.

Since consulting business is providing servicing. Therefore, we are always using “time” to generate income. In order to compete in current market, we have to use whatever means to increase our productivity. One to the ways is to use IT software. Before computer came into this world, all the engineering tasks were prepared by using manually computation. Engineer had to calculate any civil and structural design by using calculator. He had to sit down and calculate each structural elements or civil work one by one. He was using pen and writing pad to perform engineering design.

With the introduction of computer, computer can replace manual computation in term of time, accuracy and productivity. In initial years to introduction of computer, it was lacking of computer software. Spread sheet software such as Lotus 123 and Excel is popular among engineers. These spread sheet software still famous until today because of flexibility and cost of software. It can be prepared in any format of calculation by engineer. Whereby with IT technology getting more and more advance, there are more and more commercial civil and structural engineering software in market. Now come to a stage that difficult to select which software to be brought to use in company. Most of the civil and structural engineering software is expensive. With the use of software, the company is able to do more in short period of time.

The invention of civil and structural engineering software, the software can perform a number of computation where previously is impossible for human being. The software can also perform tedious and complicated computation such as finite elements computation. The finite elements method is introduce to computer where it is impossible for human to compute manually. Whereby, this method can provide more accuracy in term of output result. The software did help a lot to civil and structural engineer, it free up engineer’s time in computation. Engineer can has more time to do other works; such as management level tasks, site inspections, site meetings and client consultant meetings.

Somehow, with the introduction of computer software, engineers will lose gaps on the “feel” of design works. Engineers will not able to track problem in design and modify the design, because the problem has to rectify by computer software silently. Engineer just has to print out the output to client. Engineer will not know what has been happened to design. He will not know which part of civil or structural works is critical. Where need more attention. Where need more special check during site inspection. If problem occur, he will not know where to start rectify. He has to wait to go back to office to work out by using computer software. He will not gain a set of rule of thumb in design.

When engineer use manually design, engineer will able to “feel” what is happening to design. He will able to sense the important part of design. Whenever he is at site, he will know where to check first. If anything happened, he is able to perform computation at site immediately.

Therefore, it is not recommend using software for new comer to this engineering industry. i.e. fresh graduate engineers. Before the fresh graduate engineers go into computer software practice, t hey must go through a simple practice on manual computation. They have to gain some kind of “Feel” before design work by software. The “Feel” is important for engineer. In company view of point, this may be in term of waste because company is spending money on training staff on using manually computation. It is not productive. Somehow; in engineer view of point, engineer may losing in gaining the “Feel” experience. Where “Feel” is one of important task on become a professional engineer. If too much dependent of software; in the event of computer break down, the engineer is unable to do any work. He will stay blindly to do nothing. It also a wastage of resource for a company.

In order to achieve win win situation, the use of engineering software and manual computation must be in term of mixing. Fresh graduate engineer must go through manual computation training. Where else, the experience engineer must be provided by essential engineering software to achieve maximum productive. It is an essential investment in computer software.
Written by scchee
Disclaimer: the above article is based on writer personal opinion on civil and structural field. It will not represent any ultimate solution of any mention subjects. Writer will not responsible for any causes arise.

Reading level: Beginner.
(Updated 27/8/07)
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