The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 94 (2016) > Issue 3 > Time to reflect: a strategy for reducing risk in structural design
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Time to reflect: a strategy for reducing risk in structural design

The use of computers has resulted in immensely beneficial changes for structural engineers, both at the operational level of designing and at the conceptual level of making us think more carefully about the processes that we use and how they should be used. However, there is much disquiet about the risks involved in computer use.

A main strategy for guarding against such risk is to use what is called the “reflective approach”. This implies that one adopts a degree of scepticism about all received and generated information; one is open to ideas; one poses and seeks answers to questions; one makes personal assessments and reassessments and seeks advice from others, especially from experts; second or more opinions are sought if appropriate; when faults are found or improvements can be made, action is taken; an appropriate amount of resource is allocated to seek to ensure reliable outcomes.

Use of reflective thinking is fundamental to good engineering practice. Computer use does not diminish the need for it.

Author(s): I. A. MacLeod (University of Strathclyde)