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What makes a good Structural Engineering Tech?

What makes a good Structural Engineering Tech?

What makes a good Structural Engineering Tech?

I would like to know what the group thinks makes a good Structural Engineering Technician.  You know, the guy that is sent out to check to see if the bolts are tight and the shoes of the bar joists are welded to the embedded plates.  What do you want them to know and what traits do they have that will give you the greatest comfort level (other than honesty and integrity)?
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RE: What makes a good Structural Engineering Tech?

The best "techs" are recent engineering school grads. The "old man" should accompany them on the first couple of site visits and show them what's needed, etc. Then turn 'em loose. This kind of experience is invaluable for a new engineer.

The era of "technician" is over, IMO. Inspection duties and similar work (detailing, sizing, etc.) if given to "techs" deprive young engineers of hands-on experience that is absolutely essential to the profession.

RE: What makes a good Structural Engineering Tech?


IMVHO, The era of "technician" is not over. Young engineers should be mentored by the old guard technicians.  I would never, ever, suggest that new, fresh young engineers not be given hands-on training.  I agree that hands-on experience that is absolutely essential to the profession.

On the other hand, I have never seen an engineer that is a certified welding inspector.

If "The Era of the Technician" is not over what would you like to see as the breadth and depth of knowledge and other skill sets that the technician should have to act as your eyes and hands?

Respectfully submitted,


RE: What makes a good Structural Engineering Tech?

Rjeffery - I disagree on one point - I know many professional engineers who are AWS certified.  ACI Concrete Testing Technician certified, too.
But I do agree with Dave - The best "techs" are college grads.  Even an associates degree should give the "tech" a decent idea of whats going on.

RE: What makes a good Structural Engineering Tech?

I, myself, was considering welding school, just a year ago. I still might do it...

I know several AWS certified inspectors who are PE's.

I don't like the idea of "technicians" because I think they do things an engineer should be doing. OK, if you're a big office with a lot of drafting work, then sure, hire drafters - but don't expect them to be engineers in a pinch. I've seen articles (a couple of years ago in Structural Engineer magazine) that suggest running and learning software package is the job of a technician. Leading me to ask, "what's an engineer for? Project management?"

RE: What makes a good Structural Engineering Tech?


I suspect that MY idea of an Engineering Technician was not communicated to you well enough by me.  I am thinking of the guy (generic term for person, NOT gender specific!)that performs Quality control/Assurance, in the field.  The guy that looks at the plans/prints and specifications and reports to THE Engineer that the building, bridge, storage tank, tower et cetra was built as designed (or not).

This person would be able to look at the code sited and determine if the welded or bolted connections were properly installed.

I don't think that a technician should, could, or would EVER make engineering (read design) judgements.


In the subset of engineers I know, 0% have attained CWI, ACI or other 'Technician certifications'.  All of this subset are EXCELLENT designers and engineers in their fields but really don't understand the QA or QC function.  So I am not misunderstood,  The lack of certification does not, in my mind, reflect badly on the engineers I know or interact with an a daily basis.  Quite the opposite, they are an engineering technician's lifes blood.  If a tech does not understand the system, the data collected for presentation to THE Engineer is suspect at best and probably worthless.

Again, I am asking what makes a good (field quality control/assurance)engineering technician.

Respectfully submitted,

RE: What makes a good Structural Engineering Tech?


Field QA/QC is an interesting issue. If this is the person who makes sure that things are "built according to the plan" I would say it's got to be someone with at least ten years' experience in construction. I mean really in construction, a tradesman. The field QA/QC technician, then, is someone who you don't want making decisions other than putting together an RFI when the contractor either doesn't understand what's on the plan or is suggesting a change. The best QA/QC guy I know has 40 years in construction trades, including a tour of Viet Nam. He has built everything out of everthing and taken down a lot of stuff, too. He can drive anything, too. Is he certified? Certifiable, yes... Well, lessee, he has an Operating Engineers license, member of the carpenter's union -back when that included concrete finishing.

That is the kind of person I want making QA/QC checks, reports and keeping an eye on the contractor.

How's that, then?

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