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State of Engineering

State of Engineering

State of Engineering

Anyone else notice that the state of construction industry appears to be a no win situation? I am a structural engineer and lately it seems that schedules are compressed, budgets (construction and engineering fees) are tighter than ever, and everyone expects answers immediately where there is no time to actually think about things? It used to be a lot less stressful and more rewarding. Also seems that everyone is so quick to point a finger at someone if there is any sort of issue with anything.

Whether its lack of direction from the architect, the contractor's playing dumb to win more change orders, seems like the engineer is always on the defensive. For the first time, I actually am thinking about getting out of the industry and doing something else. (This coming from a guy who used to say he loved his job and never worked a day in his life).

Anyone else notice this?

RE: State of Engineering

Every engineer knows you can only have two out of three: fast, cheap, or good. Nowadays, fast and cheap seem to be selected most often by clients. I call it "bean counter-driven engineering," and I've hated seeing it on the rise for years. The problem is, everyone seems to be driven by avoiding "opportunity cost" or by the need to be "first-to-market," so speed is of the essence and all of the bugs can be worked out later (which they never are due to cost, or they're permanently fixed with a "temporary solution.")

Business expectations sure seem to be out of control. I've worked for a major engineering consulting firm whose management expects 15% annual growth rate. When I pointed out to the MBAs that meant that the company would double in size approximately every five years, they looked at me as though they thought I was crazy. Those people have no understanding of exponential growth, and how unstable things are that grow that way. All they know is that the shareholders expect double-digit returns, and their bonus depends on delivering.

"Live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life." Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged.
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RE: State of Engineering

If it were EZ, they would not need you. Be happy that your job is difficult and that you are employed.

While we do purchanse semi-custom structures, we are required to competively bid them into the market place. We don't set the price, but we do attempt to control it. We don't set the delivery time, but again we do attempt to control it. And we also attempt to control the quality by specifying what we want.

Time lines getting tight? Maybe because tax incentives only last a year at a time, so everyone must have it this year, and they already wasted half of it getting the money.

The worst is the customer will inflate there requirements, until we give them a cost, then they become reasonable.

Have you had to deal with, I don't care if you have a right-of-way, get off my land?

RE: State of Engineering

Not structural, but trying to enforce the concept that specifications are NOT variables with which to adjust costs and lead times can be a major challenge.

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.

RE: State of Engineering

If you remember a time when construction was less stressful and more rewarding, you must be older than I. (or my father or grandfather) Construction has always been a high stress low reward sector, populated by people who love it for what it is, not by people who ended up there because it was a relaxing way to make money.

If you're looking for high money low stress, go be a banker or something. Then people just give you their money.

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

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