During the last two decades the emergence of low cost PCs with graphical user interfaces combined with sophisticated structural analysis software has led to a radical change in the way structural analysis is conducted. Computer analysis of structures has reached a sufficient level of maturity for the curriculum content of structural analysis courses to be questioned. To what extent should course content now focus on the theory and practice of computer analysis, possibly at the expense of hand calculation methods? Can courses be designed to embrace the opportunities afforded by computer analysis to enable an understanding of structural behaviour? Insofar as much hand calculation is now unnecessary, is it possible to identify the fundamentals of structural theory that ensure correct modelling and checking of computer analysis? The paper discusses these issues and make some proposals for how theory of structures courses might be designed to take account of the need to understand how structures behave and how modern structural software should be used in a professional manner.
I. M. May, BEng, MSc, PhD, FIStructE, MICE
School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland
R. D. Wood, BSc, MSc, PhD
School of Engineering, University of Wales Swansea, Swansea, Wales
Dipl.-Ing. G. Beer, Institute for Structural Analysis, Technical University Graz, Graz, Austria
D. Johnson, BSc (Eng), PhD, FIStructE
School of Property and Construction, Civil Engineering Division, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, England.