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Structural engineering general discussion FAQ

Graduate manual design tips

feeling down? by rowingengineer
Posted: 17 Aug 09 (Edited 13 Mar 10)

Some good engineering quotes
These quotes are provided to inspire you, give you confidence and show you that engineering has no black and white, just shades of grey.
I.    Most of serious design stuff ups or budget blow outs have begun with the saying "This is straight forward, no need to think about it, just get to work."  sdz (Structural) Jan 09
II.    The first 90% takes 10% of the time, the last 10% takes the other 90% of the time TheBlacksmith Aug 02
III.    There is more than 1 way to skin a cat. (applies to all situations)
IV.    The client will always try to alter your design during construction.
V.    "It's not wrong until it can't be made right" ie: many mistakes can be fixed before it's too late. Example changing rebar before placing concrete. Clevegar Dec 02
VI.    "You can't push a rope," unless L<3xDia. daniel2 Oct 02 & curvbridger Dec 02
VII.    "20% of your time will be spent on the design concept and general arrangement; 80% will be spent on details". krd Jan 03
VIII.    "If you don't have time to do it right, when are you going to find time to do it over?" Wrightguy Jan 03
IX.    An extra dollar spent on "design" will save ten dollars during construction. whyun Jan 03
X.    In all detailing use good line contrast – lighter lines for dimension lines and bolder lines for the object lines.
XI.    The elephant in the room is your reputation precedes you.
XII.    "a safe structure will be the one whose weakest link is never overloaded by the greatest force to which the structure is subjected" Petroski 1992
XIII.    "While computers are indispensable tools, they will never replace the judgment of experienced engineers who have mastered the art of structural engineering." Clifford Schwinger
XIV.    "It's no trick to get the answers when you have all the data. The trick is to get the answers when you only have half the data and half that is wrong and you don't know which half." William Thomson,
XV.    "to some extent the choice of level of detail in any part of an engineering procedure must to some extent be governed by the crudest part of that procedure"
XVI.    "All models are wrong, some are useful." A corollary to this statement is that all models are wrong, some are just more subtly wrong. Elms 1985
XVII.    "A reasonable probability is the only certainty." E. W. Howe,
XVIII.     "The person who insists on seeing with perfect clearness before deciding, never decides." Henri-Frederic Amiel
XIX.    "The only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain." Pliny the Elder,
XX.    The square-cubed law. "When an object is scaled up by a certain factor, the volume increases with the cube of the factor, while the cross section and surface areas increase with the square of the factor".
XXI.    THE PURPOSE OF THE CODE "Well, the main function of the Code is to keep people out of trouble, to make structures safe, to make it difficult for somebody to design an unsafe structure." Chester P. Siess (1998)
XXII.    REORGANIZATION SEEDS "Because supporting sciences do not always provide crisp answers to engineering problems, building requires the use of judgment. Judgment has soft boundaries and is influenced strongly by what is considered to be acceptable risk." Mete Sozen (2006)
XXIII.    "The major part of the college training of civil engineers consists in the absorption of the laws and rules which apply to relatively simple and well-defined materials, such as steel or concrete.  This type of education breeds the illusion that everything connected with engineering should and can be computed on the basis of a priori assumptions.  As a consequence, engineers imagined that the future science of foundations would consist in carrying out the following program:  Drill a hole into the ground.  Send the soil samples obtained from the hole through a laboratory with standardized apparatus served by conscientious human automatons.  Collect the figures, introduce them into the equations, and compute the result.  Since the thinking was already done by the man who derived the equation, the brains are merely required to secure the contract and to invest the money.  The last remnants of this period of unwarranted optimism are still found in attempts to prescribe simple formulas for computing the settlement of buildings or of the safety factor of dams against piping.  No such formulas can possibly be obtained except by ignoring a considerable number of vital factors." Karl Terzaghi
XXIV.    I don't know much about statistics, but I do know that if something has a 50-50 chance of going wrong, 9 times out of 10 it will.  Author unknown
XXV.    "There is a difference between knowing you have this up your sleeve and using it in your calculations." Csd72 2009
XXVI.    A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
- Douglas Adams
XXVII.    Engineering problems are under-defined, there are many solutions, good, bad and indifferent. The art is to arrive at a good solution. This is a creative activity, involving imagination, intuition and deliberate choice.
- Ove Arup
XXVIII.    He ... insists that no mathematical formula, however exact it may appear to be, can be of greater accuracy than the assumptions on which it is based, and he draws the conclusion that experience still remains the great teacher and final judge.
- James Kip Finch
XXIX.    How could you do anything so vicious? It was easy my dear, don't forget I spent two years as a building contractor. - Priscilla Presley & Ricardo Montalban
XXX.    When engineers and quantity surveyors discuss aesthetics and architects study what cranes do we are on the right road.- Ove Arup
XXXI.    Architecture begins where engineering ends.  Walter Gropius
XXXII.    There are always many possible solutions, the search is for the best – but there is no best – just more or less good"– Ove Arup
XXXIII.    "If the structural shape does not correspond to the materials of which it is made there can be no aesthetic satisfaction" – Eduardo Torroja
XXXIV.    Hardy Cross once wrote: Strength is essential but otherwise not important.

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