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Resources to study structural software/applications
4

Resources to study structural software/applications

Resources to study structural software/applications

(OP)
Hi, I am currently working as a drafter for a structural firm. I had some structural design experience before while I was working for a real estate company. But it was many years before and the quality of the drawings may be just a semi-professional level compared to those drawings from design firms. I want to upgrade my structural design skills because I don't think being a drafter is a stable career. The first step seems to be learning the structural software, such as etap, STAAD Pro, RAM, SAFE, RFEM, etc. Can anybody tell me what resources may be most suitable for me? I only have time to study these skills after my working hours and weekends. So far, I have only found that Udemy provides some training videos but have not tried it yet. Thank you for your help in advance.

RE: Resources to study structural software/applications

Can you sign up for any steel/wood/concrete courses available on line? That would be my first 'kick at the cat'.

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Resources to study structural software/applications

Are you planning, willing and able to get on an official path that leads to license? That would require accredited degree and the required license exams and will be years. But i would look at that as a long term goal and work towards.

RE: Resources to study structural software/applications

Not sure what they have for the civil realm, but Tata Technologies has a pretty extensive library of online video courses for CAD, analytical tools, drafting, and general engineering. I had an account a few years ago through a previous employer and their quality was on-par with the various software companies' own courses, and IIRC an unlimited account was only ~$300/year.

No affiliation btw, just a recommendation from a satisfied customer.

RE: Resources to study structural software/applications

If your technical background is not solid, then definitely work on that instead of software.

Most structural analysis and design programs can and will give erroneous results. You must know enough to be able to spot these.

I've worked with engineers who don't have solid backgrounds, but they have somehow worked their way into jobs using the programs. They are dangerous.

RE: Resources to study structural software/applications

(OP)
My academic background is in civil/structural engineering and had extensive training in structural analysis. Because I have not calculated loads, moments, forces and displacements, etc. for a long time, my skills may be rusty. The structures I designed were relatively simple and small. They were not economically sensitive. Probably I had designed over 40 small structures. Something can be as simple as a single steel column with its footing. All calculations were done manually. No structural fail so far as I know. For complex structures, I don't think I still can do it manually. It will be too slow and error-prone.
I do need to refresh my structural analysis knowledge, but I don't think I need to retake all the courses again. I do need to study some new skills, especially structural analysis software.

RE: Resources to study structural software/applications

It sounds like you're in a very good place to start. I'd recommend picking one of the programs at your firm and start going through tutorials and verifying the results using manual calculations. Then do this with other programs. That way, you'll get good refreshers on design standards and learn the programs. You could add these programs to your resume.

You could even do this with some programs that your firm might not have. For example, the last time I checked, RISA-3D had a fully functional demo version.

Good luck!

RE: Resources to study structural software/applications

Quote:

Most structural analysis and design programs can and will give erroneous results. You must know enough to be able to spot these.
I've worked with engineers who don't have solid backgrounds, but they have somehow worked their way into jobs using the programs. They are dangerous.

JMO but I am firmly in the camp that the best way to learn any sort of complex analysis is to build and validate models through testing, then go back and learn to correlate the math. In today's world we're no longer stuck using green screens and spreadsheets to study complex problems, most every FEA and CFD tool for a few decades has had awesome 3d graphics which are a great tool for visually seeing/learning the concepts behind how the real world functions. Crunching numbers IMHO is the easy and straightforward part tho time and effort consuming. I've known many engineers who taught themselves FEA & CFD to very high competency levels by running math as an afterthought, and having had formal coursework in both I'd say formal education is about like your third thermo class where you realize heat transfer, fluids, and the various derivatives are all just chapters in the back of the thermo book and easy self-study/"limited-attendance" courses.

As to dangerous engineers, the real danger with any complex analysis is not correlating the analysis to reality via testing. By doing so you're stuck in the perpetual "garbage in = garbage out" loop - guesstimating, not ethical engineering. Statistically, the most common failure of these analyses is the correlation to reality, not the correlation of the math to model.

RE: Resources to study structural software/applications

Quote (CWB1)

JMO but I am firmly in the camp that the best way to learn any sort of complex analysis is to build and validate models through testing,...

I agree completely, but I'm not sure how most folks working in a building design office would do that.

ME might be different because you can do EMA and model updating and similar activities.

It would be nice if every structural engineer did thesis research in the lab or had a practical chance to compare measurements and predictions. 99% of the time, structural engineering predictions of strength and stiffness do not get verified. When they do, the discrepancies are often large, such as +/-50%, not +/-5%.

RE: Resources to study structural software/applications

+/-5% would be a fantastic outcome, if repeatable, for stiffness, never mind ultimate strength. That implies getting natural frequencies to within 2.5%, and that, in my 40 years of directly relevant experience (modal analysis), doesn't happen often except for maybe the first two flexural modes.

Cheers

Greg Locock


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RE: Resources to study structural software/applications

(OP)

Quote (271828)

It sounds like you're in a very good place to start. I'd recommend picking one of the programs at your firm and start going through tutorials and verifying the results using manual calculations. Then do this with other programs. That way, you'll get good refreshers on design standards and learn the programs. You could add these programs to your resume.

You could even do this with some programs that your firm might not have. For example, the last time I checked, RISA-3D had a fully functional demo version.
I can't use the structural software of my company. They are only used by engineers or designers. My position is drafter.

RE: Resources to study structural software/applications

In that case, I recommend checking out RISA-3D. You could verify the design modules for steel and probably other materials.

RE: Resources to study structural software/applications

I know nothing about structural design...but I would encourage you to learn the fundamentals and perform the design by hand and fully understand what is going on before focusing on software.

Software will change, and they work on a garbage-in-garbage-out principle. You need to know the shortcomings and flaws of a software to evaluate results and add appropriate safety factors. but the fundamentals will stay the same.

RE: Resources to study structural software/applications

Quote (ccpe)

My academic background is in civil/structural engineering and had extensive training in structural analysis.

Quote (ccpe)

I can't use the structural software of my company. They are only used by engineers or designers. My position is drafter.

Do you qualify to take the EIT exam? (Assuming you are in the United States.) Getting that EI title might lead to being taken seriously as a structural designer and put you on a track to doing the kind of work you're looking for.

RE: Resources to study structural software/applications

(OP)

Quote (flight7)

Do you qualify to take the EIT exam? (Assuming you are in the United States.) Getting that EI title might lead to being taken seriously as a structural designer and put you on a track to doing the kind of work you're looking for.
I am in Canada and already a member of Professional Engineers Association. My question is about resources to study some structural analysis software. But thank you very much for joining this discussion. 271828 mentioned a very good resource, RISA-3D. It is free. I will download it later. It is not very popular in my area but it will definitely give me an opportunity to be familiar with structural analysis. Also helpful for studying other similar applications later on.

RE: Resources to study structural software/applications

I think your path is backwards. If you do not have an engineering degree, I suggest you start there, gain experience, become familiar with solving problems by hand, and THEN start to rely more on software. Software is a tool intended for those who are trained and experienced enough to question its results. It should not be used to design structures without knowing the basics.

RE: Resources to study structural software/applications

(OP)

Quote (MotorCity)

I think your path is backwards. If you do not have an engineering degree, I suggest you start there, gain experience, become familiar with solving problems by hand, and THEN start to rely more on software. Software is a tool intended for those who are trained and experienced enough to question its results. It should not be used to design structures without knowing the basics.
Thank you for contributing to this discussion. Without any engineering background, no Professional Engineers Association in Canada will accept your application. They all have rigorous procedures to process applications. Yes, you are right. My path is backwards because I have a huge career gap. It is a long story.

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