The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 70 (1992) > Issues > Issue 19 > Computer and CAD: Friend or Foe?
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Computer and CAD: Friend or Foe?

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