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The Structural Engineer

A highly topical field of work for many engineers over the last 20 years is the engineering management of housing subsidence cases. The rising cost of claims and the disruption caused to many homes have raised questions as to the appropriateness of current subsidence management procedures. In this paper, a new approach to the engineering management of subsidence cases, based on knowledge-based system technology, is described. An advisory system is presented and shown to provide intelligent advice to engineers at all stages of the subsidence management process, from initial diagnosis and prognostic assessment, to the specification of efective remedial measures. Aspects of the system’s development and evaluation are briefly described and several ‘screen dumps’ included to illustrate the system in operation. The benefits of the system to structural engineers involved in the management of subsidence cases are outlined. D. Scott and C.J. Anumba

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The Structural Engineer

The empires of the future are the empires of the mind (Sir Winston Churchill). ‘What are we going to do?’ said Baby Tiger to Mama Tiger in the jungle. ‘Here comes a hunter, and he has five rifles, three special sighting scopes, and devices to allow him to see in the dark!‘Hush!’ answered Mama Tiger, and she taught her cub how to sneak up from behind and pounce. The hunter was never heard of again’, This just goes to show that, whilst technology is very useful, it will never be a substitute for knowledge, and it is knowledge and information handling that engineering is all about. P.M. Debney

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The Structural Engineer

This paper discusses the philosophy of computer use in engineering; gives an overview of the use of computers, particularly in structural engineering; and makes recommendations as to how computer use may be developed in structural engineering. It is based on a paper given before a meeting of the Scottish Branch of the Institution in December 1997. Professor I.A. MacLeod, R. Cairns and B. Kumar

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Author – MacLeod, I A;Cairns, R;Kumar, B

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The Structural Engineer

The use of computers in structural engineering started with large mainframes and was restricted to specific tasks that justified the necessary time and expense. Now, relatively cheap, powerful desktop computers are commonplace in engineering and are having a profound influence on our profession. If computers merely assisted engineers in their traditional roles and offered only stand-alone design tools, their influence would be important but not critical. However, modern developments in software and hardware offer almost limitless possibilities, and the potential for change is enormous. Add the implications of training, manpower levels and the potential for restructuring and it starts to become apparent why an understanding of engineering computing is so important and why some commentators see the digital age as having the same significance for our generation as the industrial revolution had for our forebears. P.J. Gardner

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The Structural Engineer

Well known and well-used for management purposes, spreadsheets are user friendly and exceedingly poweful. However they are not perhaps being exploited as much as they should be in structural engineering design, where they have tremendous ability to speed up design processes. C.H. Goodchild and J. Lupton

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The Structural Engineer

CPD - what form should it take? Roger Taylor‘s letter (17 November 1998) has raised widespread comment. Chris Bailey has written: I started my own practice 2 years ago, and it now has a staff of 22. Twelve months ago I employed my first graduate and felt a high degree of responsibility for her formative years in our industry. I hoped, if not expected, that our Institution would be able to offer help and assistance to me - advice on approved training courses, an introduction to the local branch, advice to employers, etc. Sadly, this was not so; my plea for help resulted in a six-page leaflet describing the route to chartered membership, as though this should be a graduate’s only real ambition.

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