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Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer
48

Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

(OP)
Top 3 problems you encounter and have to overcome working in structural engineering.... GO!

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Small contractors doing something they’ve never seen before.. “we’re not trying to hold up the empire state building...” yawn...

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

1) everything is too big and to heavy and to expensive.....
2) structural engineers just cause problems in the team
3) always too late

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

2
1) No one wants to think for themselves. Not that many years ago, a contractor would think through an issue and have a solution ready before they submit an RFI, today, they just say there's a problem, fix it. It's much easier to have an idea of what they want to do. The good contractors still do this, but they're becoming fewer and further between.

2) Timelines for completing drawings has shrunk to the point that almost zero coordination is done prior to issuance by the Prime Consultant. This leads to many more inconsistencies in the drawings, and therefore more RFIs, and you can then refer to my number 1 for my frustrations there.

3) Proper give and take on contract changes. Also in the not to distant past, if there was a minor change to something that would cost less than say $1000, no one requested a change to the contract amount. And in return, when pricing for larger changes was submitted we wouldn't be overly particular and let them get their money back there. More and more often I am getting proposed change notice pricing for less than $500. When a project goes that route, we review all of their costs with a fine toothed comb and bring them down at every chance possible.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Jayrod12, per your #1, don't you just love it when a contractor issues an RFI, you answer it and then they come back with, "Well can't we just do it this way instead?". That kills me. Tell me you have a preference and I'll do my best to make that work!

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Green SE, the biggest issue you'll face is people questioning what you did and why you did it. Many times these people have no clue why we do what we do.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Quote (Rabbit12)

Tell me you have a preference and I'll do my best to make that work!
I have resorted to having this conversation with the GC on all my projects at the kickoff meeting. Even then, we rarely get a proposed solution, or when we do it's absolutely ludicrous. I've given an outright no a couple of times to a proposal on to get the response "Yeah we knew you weren't going to go for that". Then why FFS would you propose it.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

From the perspective of a connection engineer working for a heavy structural steel fabricator in the United States:

1) Coordinating with teams of detailers on the other side of the world, and then reviewing their god-awful shop drawing submittals.

2) The damn sales department bidding jobs with unreasonable time constraints.

3) COMMUNICATION with Engineers of Record. The industry is filled with engineers who have trouble with basic communication skills. This increasingly applies to the large firms we work with who can offer H1b Visas to engineers with foreign credentials.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

2
1. Hey can you stamp these plans....smh
2. I want to knock down all these walls and put windows everywhere.... but I dont want any steel or new concrete.
3. I need plans by Friday....Wait how much?

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

1. Gravity
2. Extreme feast and famine workload cycles
3. Scope creep

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

1. Lack of communication
2. Engineers living in "model world" (having blind faith in the model and not paying attention to how structures go together - the details)
3. Problems working with clients (lack of information, changes after design, unrealistic schedules, expectation that redesign (due cost estimates being over budget) should be done for free.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

This thread is depressing. I thought I was the only one going through this and there must be hope somewhere, sometime...guess not...

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Sorry, phamENG. Welcome to the world of being legally a profession, but priced as a commodity.

When friends tell me their kids want to be engineers and ask me about my job, I always have a hard time not overemphasizing the negatives.

As for the OP:

1) Schedule
2) Schedule
3) Schedule

All of the other items everyone else mentioned apply, but the brutal schedules on most of my projects are what drive the frustration. It's usually a cycle of no info, no info, no info, no info, "oh, here's that info you need (that was promised 2 weeks ago), can I get check sets today?"

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Jayrod12, per your #1, some contractors today use RFI's as a weapon. They scour the drawings at the beginning of the project ask every imaginable question to set the tone that, 1. the drawings are incomplete or unclear, 2. we need answers immediately or else you are holding up the job, 3. any answer you give will result in a change order. I call these "assault RFI's". In fairness to contractors, sometimes the drawings they see are incomplete and ambiguous. At the firm where I work we strive to issue complete, correct and buildable designs and contract documents. It's a challenge.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

D) All of the above

You can have it fast, right or cheap... pick two

Analog spoken here...

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Kidding aside, I had often wondered if these were symptoms of the market segment we were operating in. The firm where I used to work full time (I recently went to work directly for a former client to get away from most of these issues!) serviced mostly small to medium clients. Everything from sagging floor joists to mid-rise buildings, light industrial, commercial, etc. But none of it was what I would consider "high end" work (you know - runner up for maybe being considered for the being listed on the last page of an obscure trade publication). Most of the bigger jobs were with clients who shopped the engineers for the lowest possible fee and then negotiated the lowest bidder even lower, and the owners always seemed to pay more for "value engineering" after the fact than they were willing to pay for the original design.

The result always seemed to be a shoe-string budget and an unattainable timeline. If you pushed back on the timeline, somebody else was waiting to steal your shoe string.

As you move up the chain in size and complexity of the projects, does the quality of the client improve or get worse? Or is it all just relative?

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

phamENG. Short answer: No. It doesn't improve with the size and complexity of the projects. If anything, you run into the corporate scenario where some people you deal with have been promoted to their level of incompetence. I think it's called the Peter Principle. And god forbid you work on a nuclear construction site in the US. Never again.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

2
1) Aggressive schedule driven projects
2) "Screen blindness"
3) Construction standards

The Eureka moment is that you (a structural engineer) never actually work for structural engineers. You work for people that attempt to know structural engineering by proxy: architects, managers, drafters, sellers, financiers, and builders.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

4
Architects
Architects, and
Architects

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA, HI)


RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Budget, schedule, decent drafting help, etc ,etc

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

What is "screen blindness?" I feel like I'm missing some euphemism.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

@azcats:
Putting something on-screen and justifying it is correct.
- This could apply to a CAD drawing and not checking for readability or correctness.
- This could also apply to analysis where the result on-screen is trusted without confirmation using off-screen methods.
- This could also apply to the opposite: using off-screen methods as a lone verification without regards to on-screen results that could improve the design, or suggest that something may be missing.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

"Green SE, the biggest issue you'll face is people questioning what you did and why you did it. Many times these people have no clue why we do what we do."

The more I get questioned, the more detailed my answers get. That'll teach 'em.

www.hellodwell.design

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Project managers... “ok, thanks for the design... now we need to value engineer it!”

THERE’S NO FAT IN IT!!! ITS Fu£kING CORRECT!!!! I CAN’T REDUCE IT!!

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

I knew some EEs who took to specifically adding obvious flaws in their submittals to one program lead because if he did not see a flaw, he would start looking for anything else he could change just to feel like he contributed. Anyone turning in well thought out work got screwed over, sometimes by arbitrarily increasing performance requirements ("I know it meets what the customer wants, but if it's twice as good isn't that better?") Better to leave off a ground wire and poof - ego gratification for finding it.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Quote (jayrod12)

More and more often I am getting proposed change notice pricing for less than $500. When a project goes that route, we review all of their costs with a fine toothed comb and bring them down at every chance possible.

Chicken and egg. They know they'll get screwed down on everything so claim absolutely everything.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Architect idjits that forget about the fact they need some structure to hold up their masterpiece.

Services idjits putting holes in my structures right after I finished the design.

CadMonkey Tracer type idjits stuffing up drawing my carefully crafted masterpieces.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

3
Agent, my old guys were referred to as CadMonkeys, now I have one who calls himself a BIMpanzee..

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

This may be better placed in a new thread, but I can't help but draw a link between the issues being discussed here and some of the things being said in the collapse discussion about the Hard Rock. I know we're not all designing 18 story buildings in CBDs, but how can we leverage this into a positive change for our industry?

The forum has been discussing a set of "Permit Drawings" that were signed and sealed by the EOR that appear very....abnormal? It's a problem I faced on most projects. The owner is in such a rush, they want to get the permit process started early - some would say to "reserve their place in line" so they didn't have to wait when the design was finished. To put a stop to this, the localities started rejecting anything that said "not for construction" or "for permit only" (why would they review something that isn't going to be built?). You'd think our good, upstanding, and ethical profession would respond by saying ok, sorry, we'll wait until we're done. Nope. Everyone just took the NFC stamps off and submitted them even though they knew they weren't done and couldn't be safely built. I nearly got into a shouting match with my boss over it on more than one occasion. We even sent off a "permit set" only to not hear back from the architect until they sent us angry emails and RFI's from the contractor who was halfway done with the building!

I think it comes back to the schedule pressures we've been discussing. Are we going to push back as a profession because it could (we'll have to wait for the final report on the hotel to know for sure in that case) cause significant life safety risks? If so, how?

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

2
1. $x,000.00 fee while carrying $x,000,000.00 liability
2. Everyone thinks everyone else is stupid ("if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.")
3. Not being aware of when you were/are being stupid

Open Source Structural Applications: https://github.com/buddyd16/Structural-Engineering

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

2
1. Scarcity of Clients who are willing to pay our fees based on how big of a hassle they are to work for. Yeah, I don't want any interior columns. When they get the estimate, "Whoa it costs that much to have no interior columns?" Redesign it but I don't feel like I should pay any more design fee. You should have known that was going to be too expensive.
2. Architects, Architects who think they are also a Structural Engineer, Architects who think they are also a prudent Contractor.
3. Lack of the engineering profession promoting the value of a well-engineered design. Engineers seem to shy away from money conversations while Architects, Lawyers and Doctors have no problem financially promoting their profession. Was financial compensation ever discussed in college? Where I live, you HAVE to hire an Architect on several types of jobs but do not have to hire an engineer for the same job. They lobbied years ago and had the codes specify you had to hire them. Architects really stretch the " Engineering Incidental to Architecture" clause after that.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Quote (Gandalf)

I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay

I do a lot of conceptual design* in a multidisciplinary environment. I'm the only structural engineer in the region. So I feel this pressure constantly. "The architects did their concept in two weeks, the civils took one. When will yours be ready?" "Do we really need geotech information?" "I already promised the client X for budget z".

(*We issue conceptual drawings, and they often get built without further input. Hazard of the climate)

So far, I've been able to push back in nearly every case. But it's tiring, and the cases where I don't push hard enough weigh on the conscience until I'm able to find some time to sharpen the pencil or clarify an assumption.

Quote (Galatians 6:9)

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Quote (3DDave)

I knew some EEs who took to specifically adding obvious flaws in their submittals to one program lead because if he did not see a flaw, he would start looking for anything else he could change just to feel like he contributed. Anyone turning in well thought out work got screwed over, sometimes by arbitrarily increasing performance requirements ("I know it meets what the customer wants, but if it's twice as good isn't that better?") Better to leave off a ground wire and poof - ego gratification for finding it.
Done this (although less critical than a ground)... Gotta let the peer reviewers justify themselves.


----
just call me Lo.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Quote (Celt83)

Everyone thinks everyone else is stupid...

Over the last few months, I've been reading up on all things artificial intelligence (AI). That, for two reasons:

1) Super interesting and;

2) I've long had the sense that I've fallen behind in my understanding of something that will eventually affect me and my family a great deal.

You often hear that AI will never replace structural engineers because, in the end, structural engineering isn't actually that logical of an activity. You know, once you factor in all of the required interaction with other project participants etc. This will turn out to be a fallacy.

When we imagine AI's in structural engineering, we seem to mostly imagine an updated copy of Enercalc trying to sit through a coordination meeting. It won't be anything like that. Instead, it's going to be a single AI that has spent fifteen minutes mastering all of:

a) Structural engineering
b) Mechanical engineering
c) Electrical engineering
d) Geotechnical engineering
e) Building envelope engineering
f) Quantity surveying (AI will utterly bury humans at this)
g) Construction project management
h) Construction and safety engineering
i) Real estate economics
j) Architecture

All of these different groups that formerly struggled with the dysfunction of thinking that the others were stupid will be replaced by a single entity capable of a level of seamless, interdisciplinary coordination that will be light years beyond anything that unenhanced humans are capable of.

The best bet for continuing human involvement in building construction would seem to be Architecture because there is an aesthetic component to that. Even that may turn out to be a false hope, however, given that there are already AI's composing music that human audiences prefer to that composed by contemporary human composers.

Architecture that humans find pleasing, like music that humans find pleasing, like jokes that are funny, will probably turn out to simply be a function of proportion and repeating patterns complex enough to inspire but simple enough to be recognized. At the end of the day, we humans just aren't nearly as complex as we like to think that we are.

In conclusion, I firmly believe that we are currently living through the last century of the structural engineer as far as significant human involvement is concerned. Were I a betting man, I'd wager that we'll probably be done by 2050. As this process unfolds, it will inevitably increase the commoditization of our profession which is the root source of all the other problems enumerated by others above.

Looking at it from a glass half full perspective, it'll be a fascinating and exhilarating thing to watch all of this unfold. And, of course, an honor to be part of the last few generations of human structural engineer. We'll basically be at the top of humanity's structural engineering game, technologically speaking, just before the game itself comes to an end.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

That's a sobering thought.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Building code complexities. Takes more and more time to determine wind
and seismic loads.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

I've been working in the same office for 25 years (30+ years total), and the principle is close to retiring and closing up shop. Ten years from my own retirement, I'm giving serious consideration to doing something else to close it out.

Nuff said.

Analog spoken here...

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Quote (phamENG)

That's a sobering thought.

I'm just getting warmed up. My musings on the present will be much more depressing than my musings on the future.

For what it's worth, I'm nowhere near as dejected about our industry as my comments here will suggest. Rather, I'm concerned for the well being of folks who are new to the profession because:

1) I feel that the root causes of frustration within our industry have more to do with higher lever, systemic issues than the day to day stuff.

2) Far more insidious, I think that senior folks in our industry semi-consciously hide the truth of the nature our industry from junior engineers in order to keep junior engineers motivated and contributing to the economic pyramid that is most structural engineering firms.

I wish to remove some wool from some eyes as I wish someone had done for me when I was just getting into the game.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Quote (phamENG)

The forum has been discussing a set of "Permit Drawings" that were signed and sealed by the EOR that appear very....abnormal? It's a problem I faced on most projects. The owner is in such a rush, they want to get the permit process started early - some would say to "reserve their place in line" so they didn't have to wait when the design was finished. To put a stop to this, the localities started rejecting anything that said "not for construction" or "for permit only" (why would they review something that isn't going to be built?). You'd think our good, upstanding, and ethical profession would respond by saying ok, sorry, we'll wait until we're done. Nope. Everyone just took the NFC stamps off and submitted them even though they knew they weren't done and couldn't be safely built. I nearly got into a shouting match with my boss over it on more than one occasion. We even sent off a "permit set" only to not hear back from the architect until they sent us angry emails and RFI's from the contractor who was halfway done with the building!

I think it comes back to the schedule pressures we've been discussing. Are we going to push back as a profession because it could (we'll have to wait for the final report on the hotel to know for sure in that case) cause significant life safety risks? If so, how?

This is a lame excuse for the state of the Hard Rock drawing. Those plans do not have a complete gravity or lateral system, that was not caused by any rush.

Quote (KootK)

Were I a betting man, I'd wager that we'll probably be done by 2050.
How much? Experts think AGI by 2060 and then it would have to be specialized and scaled down in both cost and power.


The same three complaints every engineer has:

1. Engineers
2. Architects
3. Contractors

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

5

Quote (winelandv)

Sorry, phamENG. Welcome to the world of being legally a profession, but priced as a commodity.

This dovetails nicely into a theory of my own that I'd like to table. I think that we should be viewing structural engineering as a trade rather than as a profession. Of course, this all ties back to just how one defines trade vs profession. So I'll toss out my own definition:

START KOOTK's DEFINITION OF A PROFESSION

As humans toil away, I propose that they get paid for two things:

1) The effort/labor that they put into producing their product, on a product by product basis.

2) The requisite knowledge that a practitioner must posses in order to successfully product their product.

A profession is work where compensation is dominated by knowledge rather than effort.

A trade is work where compensation is dominated by effort rather than knowledge.

Some applications of this definition.

3) Landscapers (my son last summer). 5% knowledge; 95% effort. Trade (or unskilled trade I suppose). Bodies functioning as machines.

4) The Plumber that fixes my dishwasher. 30% knowledge; 70% effort. Trade (skilled).

5) Surgeon that replaces my pacemaker. 95% knowledge; 5% effort. Profession.

6) Structural engineer?? I would say 30% knowledge; 70% effort. Trade (skilled).

But wait? Didn't I go to school for six years to get my masters? Didn't I take a dozen arcane licensing exams to prove my worth? Yeah, you did. But remember that we're not talking about what you had to do to be able to legally practice structural engineering. Instead, we're talking about what your actually getting paid for when your client contracts for your services. I submit that we're mostly getting paid for effort. In a way, structural engineering is a particularly cruel form of a trade. Imagine if plumbers had to endure six years of post secondary and endless post graduation exams and professional development?

END DEFINITION

I believe that a telltale sigh of whether you're in a profession or a trade is how typical businesses in your field must be structured in order to be profitable. And I propose that it comes down to this:

7) If you're in a profession, you can probably earn a decent, grown up living either working autonomously or mostly autonomously with an organization.

8) If you're a trade, to make significant money, you'll often have to place yourself near the top of a pyramidal hierarchy whereby effort is expended by folks at the bottom who are truly practicing your profession so that you can skim off of the top.

Some interesting examples:

9) Dentists. They're usually set up as autonomous / semi-autonomous and make a killing. Profession.

10) Accountants. Usually set up as pyramids. Trade.

11) Lawyers. Nuanced. They are often set up as pyramids because lawyers really want to clean up. But, then, the pyramid scheme is a law partner's way of making $750K, not $200K. A lawyer operating on their own can easily make &200K. Profession.

12) Structural Engineers. Usually set up as pyramids. Trade. And this is a solid indicator that the actual activity of structural design is not, in and of itself, a high value activity as far as society is concerned. Ergo structural engineering is a commodity and all of the issues with tight schedules and low fees ensue...



RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

sandman - I think you misunderstand me. I'm certainly not trying to excuse the state of those drawings (quite the opposite, in fact). When I refer to a rushed schedule, I'm referring to the insistence on owners and contractors to submit preliminary designs for permitting, so you end up with unstable "designs" that the engineer never intended to be built but there's a drawing out there with a seal on it implying that it can be. I have no idea if that's what happened with the Hard Rock, but it seems plausible. It's not excusable, and that's what I'm trying to point out.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Quote (Sandman21)

How much? Experts think AGI by 2060 and then it would have to be specialized and scaled down in both cost and power.

All my money, a child, and a thumb. I think it's game over once the general AI is created as the general should go singularity and just partition itself off to handle the specialized.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Not my top 3, but challenging nonetheless,

1. Keeping water out
2. Keeping water in
3. Fixes for when 1. or 2. don't happen

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

3

Quote (KootK)

I feel that the root causes of frustration within our industry have more to do with higher lever, systemic issues than the day to day stuff.

Yes, issues with schedules, fees, and quality are the day to day nuisances. But, then, why do these things bother me really? All that just falls under the umbrella of "work", right? For me, these things are bothersome because they put me at odds with my own integrity almost constantly. Since we're talking big threes:

1) If an alien landed on earth and read all of our codes and design guides, they would have one impression of what structural engineers should be doing in regard to detail and rigor in design. Then, if they observed what practicing structural engineers actually do, they'd be horribly disappointing and confused. We take shortcuts. And lots of them. In fact, this is one of the first difficult lessons that new structural engineers must learn in a hurry. For me, this discrepancy between what I feel that I should be doing and what I'm actually doing is a challenge to my integrity. I tell the world that I'm delivering one product in terms of rigor and safety and then I turn around and deliver something quite different. I'm lying to the world in this respect.

2) As pointed out above, we have to commit to very aggressive schedule in order to keep winning work. This inevitably leads to agreeing to unrealistic schedules that give little account to reasonable contingencies. Yet I agree to these schedules because I feel that I have to to survive. This is me knowingly committing to delivering something that I know that I often wont be able to deliver. This is me lying to my clients and fellow project participants.

3) It is the low paid efforts of junior engineers that make our business model go 'round. Since most structural engineers get into the game to satisfy their inner nerd, the only way to keep such engineers motivated is to perpetuate their misunderstanding that society places a high value on the activity that is structural design. As a senior structural engineer, I'm guilty of this on a near constant basis. You can't very well motivate a junior by telling them "the only way to make any money at this is to get out of design and into management or sales as fast as you can". Again, this is me lying... now to junior engineers.

As structural engineers, we like to facetiously toss around the concept that we lose sleep over our work. You know, stuff falling down and crushing baby carriages etc. The truth is that none of that costs me any sleep. What does cost me sleep is my being constantly at odds with my own integrity as I've described. I think that a practicing structural engineer would actually be well served by some degree of sociopath in this respect. And, indeed, I know of some mild sociopaths that are wildly successful in structural engineering and make it look easy.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

KootK - eloquently put, and tough to argue with. I will try though, even if only with my own anecdotal evidence that you'll surely eviscerate.

In any profession or trade, knowledge is worthless without effort. A law scholar could have the whole history of jurisprudence memorized, but if he can't stand in a courtroom and argue (applying his knowledge through effort), he's not going to be making that $200k. The more clients he can bring in, and the faster he can argue his cases in court, the more money he makes. Meanwhile, he has an army of paralegals and interns running around doing his research and preparing briefs. It's hierarchical, but with little to no upward mobility for those at the bottom (the paralegal doesn't have a JD).

For structural engineers, we come out of school with little to no experience. Most programs don't require an internship. My state has EITs - Engineers in Training. I think some of the other states have it right with EIs - Engineering Interns. That period between school and licensure where you go from useless to knowledgeable asset. Consider MDs - they go through 4 years of undergrad, 4 years of med school, and they come out to another 4 years of residency making less than I made at my first engineering job out of college. Granted, their salary growth curve goes up a lot faster than ours does, but now as a licensed engineer I enjoy much more than a living wage, and my family can live comfortably on my salary alone (that's becoming more rare these days).

Look at the hierarchy of a structural engineering firm (at least one that I'm used to): President of the firm makes the strategic decisions and handles business aspects of the firm's operation; principal engineers oversee design, set policy, and manage QC; Engineers run the projects - run analysis, direct support staff, manage production of final product (drawings, specs, reports, etc.). Then, below the engineer, is a group of individuals doing the leg work - EITs running calcs and learning to do the engineer's job, CAD staff drawing and compiling documents, etc. Maybe its just me, but this sounds a lot like what the Law office is doing.

I think the commodity pricing is a result of how we interact with the market. Yes, we're probably not perceived in the same light as other professions, but is that because we don't deserve to be, or because we suck at PR?

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

KootK,

I'm inclined to agree with your synopsis on profession vs. trade, except you haven't actually dealt with the licensure and liability (possibly criminal, as opposed to a warranty) that comes along with it. Aside from that, it may just be that there are now too many engineers for our sector to operate as professionals.

Not sure what my point is, but you did get me thinking - I'm going to place the blame in your lap. ;)

Concerning AI, just like with self-driving cars, who's picking up the liability/risk in the event of catastrophe ? If it's going to take over the industry, then I don't think the standard "this software is a tool" disclaimer is going to cut it. More food for thought - can't spend any more time on this post, my effort is needed on a design. :)

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Quote (KootK)

All my money, a child, and a thumb. I think it's game over once the general AI is created as the general should go singularity and just partition itself off to handle the specialized.

CAD or US? bigsmile

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

2
Somewhat related to the post going off on the current tangent, this argument sort of blew my mind a while back when I came across it. With the comparison between engineering and the real estate profession, showing in a way how structural engineering has lost its way, and how other professions have solved the money problem.

We design a building once in its design life for 1% for 6 months work, real estate agent gets 4% every time they sell it over the design life of the building for a weeks worth of work.... Compelling argument for the race to the bottom in structural consulting.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

You're getting 1%? We generally look at between .35 and .45% of the CONSTRUCTION cost. Recall that the real estate agent gets 6% of the sold price of the unit. This includes all land costs, design fee + permitting fees, profit across several layers of clients, etc... At a recent project the "sold" cost of the project was close to twice that of the construction cost. Off the immediate 1st time the building get's sold the real estate agents are making close to 24 times what the structural engineer made on the project.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

1. too much time on eng-tips
2. get stuck fiddling with calcs that I want to do for fun but will have little impact on final cost
3. arrogance

That AI thing is pretty exciting to me. Of course Tekla - click on beam - click on column - voila connection is detailed - press print shop drawing thing seemed pretty exciting 15 years ago. The "BIM everyone coordinates in 3D" was pretty exciting until I actually participated in a 3D "coordination" session.

All in all I'm grateful. Being able to deal with smart functional people doesn't happen in most fields. Structural engineering is allergic to non-smart dysfunctional people. Although, my schadenfreude is looking forwarded to the postmodernist movement hitting the engineering field. Its a sickness, I know.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Agents make more $$$ per building with much less risk but there are also alot more agents than structural engineers. They dont get a pay check every week and have to grind there arse off (on the weekends too) to make there 3% (6% is what the owner pays and the listing agent has to split it with the buyers agent) and then give their broker his cut. The grass isn't always greener on the other side believe me...however the level of knowledge needed to "get by" as an agent isn't even close to what is minimally asked by us as structural engineers.

A good agent will sell your house quickly and for more than the "comparable value"; this is directly tied to the pockets of the person paying for the service. This is easy for owners to understand and compare results with. A good structural engineer will value engineer a project that will save money but how does the person paying the bill know your design truly saved him money? They would need a design from another engineer to compare to right? Who is paying our bills? The architect? Owner? Contractor? At the end of the day we are only worth the value we bring to the market....he who is closest to the money always has the upperhand.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

This thread has become very interesting. My take is unless your name is on the wall, you are a commodity. I made it to the level of project manager and/or principal engineer in corporate structures, but was downsized out when those two companies were bought by foreign competitors. Last time resulted in a 20% cut in pay going to work for a consulting engineering firm that serviced that industry. It took 3 jobs and 13 years to get back to my previous salary.

I rarely had problems with schedules. Working extra hours to get there was not a problem, even when I was not totally compensated for the hours.

Keeping up with changing technology was an issue. Started work with a slide rule and hand drafting. Worked up through calculators, CAD, and some limited computer access.

Working on my MS through a distant learning program in 2001 and my professor told me that if I stayed with my hand-calcs I would have trouble getting through his steel design class. Forced me to become somewhat computer literate. Continued to learn through retirement in 2013.

At that time 3D drafting was making advances in that company. I left just in time.

gjc

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

I like the architects, contractors, RFI's, schedules, and everything, but
1) I don't get paid enough
2) Structural engineers aren't paid enough to encourage talented young people to pursue a career in structural engineering
3) Engineering professors teach math, and their students do algebra instead of sketching a section with a free-body-diagram

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Quote (RPMG)

Engineering professors teach math, and their students do algebra instead of sketching a section with a free-body-diagram

Ha - my structural analysis professor actually said at the beginning of the course: "There is an engineering way to do this, and a mathematical way to do this. I will teach you.....the mathematical way." Thanks for nothing... How I ever managed to teach myself enough to get my first structural job I'm still not sure.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Quote (Agent666)


Just want to point out in regards to the structural fee compared to real estate agent fee...we're splitting up the cut of design fee with the architect and all other consultants. Google is telling me architects charge between 5%-15% of construction cost, which is at least more comparable to a real estate agent...but is even more hilarious because one real estate agent is making more in a week than multiple teams at multiple companies for a fraction of a fraction of the work. Sigh. I started this post to try and make myself feel better. Didn't work.

Edit: And I guess thats not even applicable to residential stuff that doesn't require a whole team of disciplines.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

2
Regarding engineering fees - We only have ourselves to blame. We race each other to the bottom and then complain we’re not getting paid enough.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

How are real estate agents still a thing in 2019?

www.hellodwell.design

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

"Somewhat related to the post going off on the current tangent, this argument sort of blew my mind a while back when I came across it."

When I was at Stanford that guy came to give a talk and was handing out free stuff like Halloween candy. He asked someone to volunteer to come up and sing katy perry with him. My classmate went up and came back with a free iPad. I didn't get one, all I got his book on modeling :(

www.hellodwell.design

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Quote (Tomfh)

Regarding engineering fees - We only have ourselves to blame. We race each other to the bottom and then complain we’re not getting paid enough.
My thoughts exactly. Seems like an opportunity for some good ole' collusion!

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

1) I don't think that our industry's problems are a result of our just sucking at business and self promotion. My impression is that we're at least as shrewd as many of our cohorts in other, more lucrative professions. I think this humble pie, good guy, money-tard self image that we have is a delusion that we tell ourselves because it's more palatable than the truth which is that there a serious, structural issue with our service market.

2) I don't think that our industry's problems are a result of our racing each other to the bottom in terms of fees or services. Those things are just a function of our existing within a free and competitive marketplace where competition is encouraged. What needs to change is the underlying nature of service market, not how individuals play the game within that market.

3) As much as I liked Ashraf's Christmas light coat, I didn't feel as though he actually said much. Talent follows money and we'd all like a 700% raise. Any hillbilly could have told us that in sweats and a wife beater. As for the real estate agent example, it's based on a spurious underlying assumption: that structural engineering is as valuable of a service as real estate agency from a client's perspective. If a client chooses a crappy structural engineer what is the likely consequence? Nuttin'. If a client chooses a crappy real estate agent what is the likely consequence? The loss of sacks and sacks of gold doubloons. And that's all that you need to know about structural engineers vs real estate agents.

4) I believe that the real problem with our industry is that shoddy structural engineering has few tangible consequences for clients and, therefore, good structural engineering has little real value to society. All of the other crap shakes out from that. I've copied some verbiage below from another thread where I elaborated on this in greater detail and proposed the only solution that I can think of.

Quote (MIStructE)

I believe if more buildings actually fell down we would be much richer men!

Quote (KootK)

While I'm sure that this was meant rather facetiously, I believe it to be an important part of this problem. In a statistical sense, the quality of structural engineering work truly does NOT have meaningful consequences. So why should clients pay for good work? I have exactly one idea for how this might get fixed without going to straight protectionism. It's based on my expectation that, baring frequent earthquakes, only a structural engineer can really parse out good structural engineering work from bad. So I'd like to see all jurisdictions legislate a mandatory, anonymous, 3rd party peer review for all structural works of any significance. Set the fees at 15% of the EOR fees or something. I feel that this would lead to several desirable outcomes:

1) Higher quality structural work.

2) More volume of structural work available.

3) Crap structural work would hold up permits etc and cause delays. At long last... consequences.

Some of the seismic jurisdictions like California and New Zealand have already taken meaningful steps in this direction which I feel is great.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Quote (Kootk)

If a client chooses a crappy structural engineer what is the likely consequence? Nuttin'. If a client chooses a crappy real estate agent what is the likely consequence? The loss of sacks and sacks of gold doubloons.

If that's true then the idea that we're worth something is just a delusion.


I don't believe it myself. I think poor structural engineering is more costly than poor real estate agents. Property sells itself at whatever the market if offering. Agents come along for the ride, selling themselves to vendors by promising a bigger sack of gold than the next agent.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Quote (Tomfh)


Quote (KootK)

If a client chooses a crappy structural engineer what is the likely consequence? Nuttin'.
If that's true then the idea that we're worth something is just a delusion.

True or not, it's a common perception. Most laypersons can't tell you what makes a good/bad engineer. And if you were to ask a contractor, and architect, and an engineer what makes a good/bad engineer, the answers would vary wildly. I think more would be in the realm of coordination and customer service than technical design prowess.

I think the sentiment has varying degrees of 'truthiness'.... depends on the industry/application and the competence of the contractor.

Then add in the fact that as structural engineers, much of our work is to prevent things that might happen down the line, or in certain combinations of events. Add to that human tendencies to not evaluate future or systemic risks well, optimism bias, etc.

----
just call me Lo.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

2
1) Estimating a scope accurately only for Project Management to slash the hours and duration and still expect the same quantity and quality of work.
2) Project Management being amazed and upset when their slashed hours and duration are not met and the project 'grows' to the estimated hours and duration.
3) Being expected to work with preliminary information and still have the same productivity and not ever up-rev or change anything. Once had Vendor supplied loads grow by more than 600% and was expected to 'just make the existing design work'.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

2

Quote (Lomarandil)

True or not, it's a common perception. Most laypersons can't tell you what makes a good/bad engineer. And if you were to ask a contractor, and architect, and an engineer what makes a good/bad engineer, the answers would vary wildly. I think more would be in the realm of coordination and customer service than technical design prowess.

Definitely on the coordination and customer service. Knowing the technical stuff is the minimum and expected. Being a 'good engineer' in the eyes of the client is all about making their life easier. Being easy to work with, knowing industry trends, being dependable, lowering risk, lowering costs (not just fees), helping solve their problems (most of which aren't technical in nature). The actual engineering part is a commodity. No one cares if you've got a fancier model or cleaner calcs or clearer drawings unless it leads to significant tangible benefits to the client.

Challenges for me:
1) Unreasonable schedules, both too short and too long. Too short because it's hard to get the work done in time and do a good job. Too long because it's hard to stay in budget as architect makes a million changes. There's a sweet spot for each project that depends on size.
2) Finding people at our level talent-wise and ability-wise. We grow and groom them pretty well from fresh grads. Finding experienced people who can keep up with us is difficult, though. Engineers from big time firms often don't have the breadth of knowledge and experience we want. Engineers from smaller firms often don't have the depth of knowledge and experience we want. Recession being 6-10 years ago makes it difficult. Since no one in the industry was hiring at the time, people with 6-10 years of experience are unicorns right now. I'm not sure they actually exist in the wild.
3) Communication, both internal and external. I feel some individuals do a pretty good job, their projects almost always run smoothly and they correctly identify potential problems and work to mitigate or avoid them. Others don't talk to much of anyone and don't follow up on much of anything, then act surprised when there's a bunch of rework because engineer and client (or PM for internal issues) weren't in sync on scope, desires, and requirements.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

I predominantly work in civil consulting although can strongly relate to most of the posts above! Clients seem to not value the input of a good engineer anymore.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Curious to know if the DOT (department of transportation) bridge people in the states experience the same issues?

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

I was reading through the comments in the link provided by Agent666 and found one that I feel deserves repeating here. I'll not critique is as I might normally since the author is not here to defend himself.

Quote (Nikola Jevtic)

When automotive engineers (for example) do great job, the result of their work is IMMEDIATELY seen through driving dynamics of the car against competitors. Great work of structural engineers is seen and thereby recognized only when building, bridge or any structure survive major earthquake. The bare fact that structure is standing fully functional when there is no earthquake or other disasters is taken FOR GRANTED !!!

Educating people through media of the level of fundamental end applied knowledge that is necessary for conducting structural analysis and design is one (less efficient) way of raising the public seance of appreciation for our profession. Things should be done in reverse.

More practical way is to establish firm rules for engineering fees in relation to long term economic and community benefits associated with given structure.
First, the problem MUST be generally recognized by majority of engineers - that is the starting point.
Next, appropriate engineering committees can be formed with specific tasks for establishing rules for engineering fees. After adoption, these rules will serve like design codes.

By amount of fees for our engineering work, the rest of community will start to form opinion about our value.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

As a structural engineer who worked for 36 years in the design engineering of buildings, power plants and process plants, I consider the following as the inherent and unavoidable hurdles for a civil/structural design engineer.

1. The sequence of engineering activities of plants is as follows:
Process engineering
Mechanical engineering/Electrical engineering/ Instrumentation engineering
Architecture
Civil/Structural engineering

But site requires the civil/structural detailed drawings first to start the construction.

There is a pressure from the client, contractor and the project manager to the structural engineer to issue the drawings. It is a common advice/suggestion by all the above parties to 'make suitable assumptions based on previous experience to cover the uncertainties'. People easily forget that each project is unique in itself due to the different layouts, soil conditions, wind and seismic zones etc. and pose unique challenges to the structural designer.

As a result, the poor structural engineer is forced to proceed with the design with many assumptions, which invariably change by the time the drawings are made. Revisions, rework and delay in the schedule follow, for which he is made responsible.

2. while performing structural design, there is another inherent hurdle. The sequence of issue of drawings required at site is foundation first and then the superstructure, but the calculations have to start from the roof.

3. It is widely talked that the automation and the availability of software has made structural design faster. But, the fact is that the benefit of the time gained by using the software for lengthy calculations and iterations is not available to the structural designer but is being passed on to the client who unreasonably squeezes the schedule. The result is that the designer has the same struggle for time to carry out his activities.

However, I learnt the following hard truth by going through many projects.

If there is a delay in the engineering schedule due to ensuring the quality of the deliverables, the designer will be blamed during the period of the project execution and will be forgotten afterwards.

But, if the quality of the deliverable is compromised for adhering to the schedule causing rework at site, the blame will haunt the designer throughout his career.

Trilinga

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Quote (Kootk)

I believe that the real problem with our industry is that shoddy structural engineering has few tangible consequences for clients

Unfortunately true.

Even after our recent Earthquakes here in NZ, where one consulting company had a structure they designed in the 1980's collapse and kill something like 115 people of the 165 total that died. They as a company then seemed to get so much new work out of the rebuild form existing clients (even getting paid to fix/strengthen their own structures that performed poorly) because they are known for creating cheap to build structures. The company was still lead by the same person who had overall design responsibility for the structure that collapsed.

Royal commission into the two modern buildings that fully collapsed leading to the majority of the loss of life found a lot of things lacking in the original designs that contributed to the collapse, bad design, bullying the authorities into accepting their design despite oppositions being raised by diligent parties. Often cheap and robust don't go together. If one or two collapse it's still good odds for the uninformed client types to roll the dice on in the long term if they got a good deal on the design, and thats all some seem to appreciate at the time? A buildings a building to them, a well designed building is invariably going to be more expensive.

So basically you can kill 115 people and get away with it, no consequences to the company or the individuals, in fact their business was booming following the earthquakes. This disgusts me to some degree and highlights how broken parts of the industry really are, what message does this send regarding practicing good engineering? The public eventually lose in the next big one, but the moneys already in someones pocket.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Agent,

Yes I was a bit surprised to hear he'd gone on thriving after that event. Odd too that he managed to dodge any real blame for it, and successfully transferred 99% of the blame to his underling. I've seen it a few times where superiors throw the subordinates under the bus when things go bad, even though they were just following the bosses design direction. All of a sudden the bosses design becomes the junior's design...

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Lots of good input in this thread. I'll throw in my two cents based on my experiences.

My challenges:
1 - Architects. Especially architects who give their clients new ideas/visions at every meeting. And especially architects who think they are structural engineers. This creates a long and painful process of design and redesign. Discussions about change orders due to the constantly moving target never go quite as smoothly as one hopes.
2 - Questions that directly target my integrity. KootK hit this one of the head for me. This paired with the seemingly endless variety of questions targeted towards member sizes, reinforcing layouts, etc. can do one in in a hurry.
3 - Timeline crunches. We all know this one. $X,000 in X days for a $X,000,000 project. This has to be my biggest complaint, even over the architect.

I have the privilege of being able to step away from the computer and work with my wife's business partner on small construction projects. He is a retired GC who does remodels and repairs. He has the ability to selectively choose who he works for and what he does. First question is always "Are you bidding this out to multiple people?" If they say yes we politely tell them we aren't interested and we walk away. Second question, if the first answer is a no, is "You can have things done, and you can have things done right. I only do things right and as a result we work by the hour without the ability to give you an overall cost, though it is likely to be in the low XX,000 dollar range." If we get a thumbs up to that then we get started. May sound like a fairy tale but we are booked out through 2020 just by word of mouth alone.

I cannot describe the joy associated with installing tile base trim, or creating a fireplace mantle out of a massive chunk of DF, when you know you have time on your side to make things ever so perfect. Because when you are done you really take a deep sense of pride in your work knowing that it is as best as it can be.

Unfortunately, my company and my work as an engineer rarely, if ever, has that same flexibility, so low-cost projects in tight timelines are more the norm.


RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Well this thread has been a real eye opener.

Quote (KootK)

I think that senior folks in our industry semi-consciously hide the truth of the nature our industry from junior engineers in order to keep junior engineers motivated and contributing to the economic pyramid that is most structural engineering firms.

If this didn't strike true

As a grad I was deeply proud/honoured/excited when I was given a large project (relative to our usual work in my firm) that I would be doing majority of the design for with minimal help from a senior engineer and told by my boss he thinks I'm ready to start working more independently and this would be great experience for me. Given it was my first job operating independently I struggled immensely to meet the same deadlines expected of a senior engineer. I wasn't given any concessions or leeway for being a grad and I thought my boss was pushing me for my own development and learning - which wasn't the case as I had to sacrifice time spent understanding a lot of the design concepts to get the job out quicker.
Once the job was all said and done I found out my boss quoted lower on the job as the client had recently given a job to another engineer and he wanted to ensure we kept getting work from him. Since the deadline on the job was unchanged and the fee was lower the only way to stay profitable on this was to take advantage of my lower hourly rate. Sure I got great experience, but definitely felt used rather than valued by the end of it.

Seems like the industry is on a crash course to the bottom line.
I guess, to my benefit, being a greeny means I can still consider a career change... Any advice??

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Quote (Tomfh)

Quote (Kootk)
If a client chooses a crappy structural engineer what is the likely consequence? Nuttin'. If a client chooses a crappy real estate agent what is the likely consequence? The loss of sacks and sacks of gold doubloons.

If that's true then the idea that we're worth something is just a delusion.


I don't believe it myself. I think poor structural engineering is more costly than poor real estate agents. Property sells itself at whatever the market if offering. Agents come along for the ride, selling themselves to vendors by promising a bigger sack of gold than the next agent

Sadly, it's often perceived as even the opposite. From a developer's perspective, I can hire hire "Firm A+" that does an amazing job and has the best reputation in town, or "Firm D-", who is often a one-man show with no overhead and starving for work (sorry, I know it's unfair to classify all one-man shows as the "D-" here, but it's a common issue for us).
  1. Firm A+ will probably take a little longer to do it, Firm D- tells me they can get it done quicker, which may or may not turn out to be true.
  2. Firm A+ will also actually design things to code or check their details, so I'm going to pay even more for the correct hardware, connections, reinforcing in construction... Plus my buddy contractor who has "been doing it this way for 25 years" tell me all that crap's not really necessary and he must be right because even when Firm D- does my stuff, it still sails through plancheck in 99% of jurisdictions. If it was really dangerous, they'd catch it, right?
  3. My architect loves Firm D- because he never tells them they can't do anything. He'll bend over backwards, ignorant of whatever code provisions Firm A+ is always throwing in my face and telling me we can't do the glass palaces my architect wants to create.
  4. Firm A+ has been around the block a few times and has a tighter contract so if I want to change scope along the way, they'll charge me more. But Firm D- has a swiss-cheese contract that's basically a glorified handshake with a wink, so I can strong-arm him into bending over backwards to make me happy.
  5. Firm D- is easy when it comes to construction... no matter what idiotic thing my contractor screws up, their fixes are easy/whatever the contractor recommends. Firm A+ tells me it's because they don't know what they're doing and didn't check the <insert engineering jargon I don't understand here> but nothing ever falls down so what do I care?
As a developer, I'm mostly in this to try to sell this building for a profit in a few years anyway so what more could I want? Firm D- is giving me a huge discount for a product that meets my needs more economically. I like the guys at Firm A+, they're top-notch professionals who really do seem like they know what they're doing... but why should I hire them?

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

From a developers point of view you’re probably right. Quality issues often don’t appear until further down the line, so doing it better to save other people money in the distant future doesn’t make much economic sense.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

On the topic of following the money, the source of funds for various parts of the construction process plays a role as well.

Most banks won't release a red cent until you have a design for your building. That means for many instances, our design fees are coming out of the owner's ready money. The cost of the actual building, on the other hand, is being financed. So when option A is to hire the top notch engineer that will cost 180% of the competition for a building that will cost 70% of the competition with better communication, smoother coordination, and responsive construction period services, they'll go with the lower design cost and higher construction cost because they feel it less up front and, in the case of developers, they can pass on the additional cost to the new owner when they sell the building after paying nothing but interest on it for a year.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

I have also encountered plan reviewers who have read “The Territorial Imperative” way too many times. I never have liked political solutions to engineering problems.

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA, HI)


RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

1. Lack of a structural base from architects. Specialization has brought too many problems. I think it would be better if we all where architects with an specialization (structural, mep, etc.)
2. Communication and coordination.
3. Lack of intuition, too much reliance on software, lack of knowledge on vernacular construction. This slows workflow.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

I am a new engineer starting out in the industry and I am already on my 2nd job, the main problem that I am running into is that the amount of structural projects can have "lull" periods or periods of only project proposals, which means little to no work for the new engineer.

How hard is it to switch to a different CE/SE discipline, like transpo. or water resources?

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

As easy as finding an entry level position. That's the stage you're at, and don't be surprised if things are the same at the new place. At least for a while, your employer still needs to figure out your capabilities. You don't magically get handed entire projects to run with fully day one.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

I understand, but giving me starter tasks or operations to test my abilities would give me something to do, instead of just sitting at the desk staring at a code book.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Sounds like you have a good idea for what to do that would be more productive than what you're currently doing. Have you asked your boss / colleagues if they can provide something like that instead? Maybe even ask if he remembers any tricky problems he had and get you to look at it and see if you get the same solution. Even if not, it should prompt so good problem solving practice and discussion on the possible resolutions.

I'd be pretty happy to support one of my graduates if they came to me bored and looking for something challenging to develop their experience.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

In simple terms RandomTaskkk is saying show your desire to work and learn. It's not school anymore, all motivation has to come from within. Will you be given work, sure. But trust me when I tell you it looks WAY better if you come looking for it.

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

dhase:
there will always be some down time just the nature of contract work. Rather than just stare at the code book try developing an excel or Smath/mathcad calculation tool you'll learn the in's and out's of the calculation and likely end up with a tool that will increase efficiency when the work does come back flowing in.

Open Source Structural Applications: https://github.com/buddyd16/Structural-Engineering

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

dbase:
I would try to determine what discipline I prefer being in rather than where can I find a project. If you like transportation or hydraulics more than structures attempt the move for that reason, not lack of activity. A new hire out of college has the same problem in all the disciplines.

I agree with other comments, ASK for something to do. Show motivation. For example, ask what type of structures you company tends to work on. Let's say they tell you they do a lot of concrete circular clarifiers or steel tanks and hoppers. Neither of those tend to be taught in college, so there is a good place to start learning. Get up to speed on them is not a bad sign of motivation. You will find college did not teach you everything you need to know but it did give you the tools to learn on your own with guidance from your mentor. If you do not have a mentor in the company, get a good one.

When you say "on my 2nd job", do you mean 2nd employer or 2nd project?

RE: Main problems you encounter as a structural engineer

Celt83 has some good advice: don't just read a code book, make something out of it. A spreadsheet or calculation tool is a perfect artifact of learning, and if you show that initiative (in my experience) it will tend to impress the people more willing to have you tag along on their projects. I wish I did more of this in my early career because it could have really sped up my development.

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