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Sometimes it seems accepted that there will always be conflict between structural engineers and architects. Thankfully, over the last few years in particular, engineers and architects have begun to question this conflict more openly and try to produce professionals who have both a sympathy for the architectural aims and a thorough knowledge of structural design. This paper explores the underlying reasons for the conflict between engineers and architects. An approach is described which is aimed at addressing these problems by producing structural engineers who understand the issues that define good architectural design and who can interact with architectural concepts and thinking. These developments have been implemented and tested within the MEng/BEng undergraduate structural engineering courses at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, which have, to date, produced over 60 graduates. They form part of a much more extensive design curriculum whose innovations have been discussed elsewhere1 and presented at a meeting of the Institution of Structural Engineers, London, December 1996. Eur.-Ing T. M. Chrisp, BSc, MSc, PhD, MIStructE, MICE, CEng School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University L. Wilson, BArch, ARIAS School of Architecture, Edinburgh College of Art J. Cairns, BSc, PhD, MIStructE, CEng School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University
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.