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The South-Eastern Counties Branch was established in 1985, along with three other branches, to cover the area previously served direct from Institution headquarters. It has, therefore, the double distinction of being both the youngest branch and the branch with the largest membership. P.P. Brambley
I realise that I’m treading on thin ice with this subject-matter - engineers and other building professionals are often either ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ the use of computers and CAD with a fervour verging on the religious. But information technology, in all its diverse forms, is with us for good and, far from going away, it will penetrate our professional and domestic lives ever deeper as time goes by. What does concern me is that nowadays we engineers have tremendous analytical computing power at our disposal but I feel we are in danger of losing the ability (and maybe the responsibility) to design because of fragmentation and deskilling of the design function. There is also a growing tendency to turn the engineering design function into little more than a production line process because of the empowerment of computing tools available. Economic considerations, with reducing fees, falling workload, etc., are driving the profession ever more quickly toward this way of working. The end is not inevitable but, unless we promote the benefits of good engineering design to clients and other construction disciplines, I feel that it could be. It is not computers per se that are the problem, it is the way we are using them. D.J. Atherton
This paper is concerned with the design method for providing resistance against punching shear for flat slabs where the slab extends substantially up to the surrounding supports - e.g. an internal panel of a multibay flat slab. A signifcant aspect generally ignored in the design of flat slab structures is the development of what is commonly referred to as membrane action. When a load is applied to the slab, the deflection of the slab is accompanied by an outward expansion of the slab boundaries. This tendency to expand laterally is restrained by the supporting columns, beams or walls. The adjacent area of the slab also acts as a stiff restraining diaphragm. This membrane action induces internal axial compressive stresses that significantly influence and enhance the punching shear resistance of the slab. The design method is developed on the basis of a test programme jointly funded by the Department of the Environment and the British Cement Association. The specimens were 9m x 9m in plan and 250mm thick and represented an area of slab surrounding an internal column of a continuous flat slab. It is shown that there is a significant increase in punching shear resistance compared with the smaller conventional specimens. A design method taking membrane action into account is proposed. P.S. Chana and S.B. Desai