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Today’s young engineers often appear unwilling to undertake analyses by hand, the preferred approach is to use a computer. In itself this is not necessarily a bad thing and computers can be valuable in understanding behaviour. For example, by varying different parameters, the sensitivity of a solution to a number of variables can be quickly assessed. However, if the reliance is such that the engineer loses the confidence to carry out simpler methods of analysis, the ability to carry out an independent check of the model is compromised.
The Concrete Society produced an Advice Sheet to consider computer use in the design of concrete structures and how this is changing the design process. Problems may arise when trying to produce reinforced concrete designs from computer output. The Advice Sheet contains a checklist of items of which the engineer should be aware before relying on the output received. Simple methods for checking the validity of computer output are highlighted and the need for a body to check proprietary software is briefly discussed.
Acknowledgement: The Concrete Sciety
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