Graham H. Powell Structural Analysis - Are we relying too much on computers?
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Graham H. Powell Structural Analysis - Are we relying too much on computers?
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Structural Analysis - Are we relying too much on computers?

Author: Graham H. Powell, Ph.D., P.E. | Size: 1 MB | Format: PDF | Quality: Original preprint | Publisher: STRUCTURE magazine | Year: 2008 | pages: 7


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In Part 1 of this series of articles, I expressed the opinion that there is a serious problem in the way that we teach structural analysis in our universities. The main problem, as I see it, is that far too much time is spent teaching the “number crunching” phase of analysis, and far too little time teaching the more important “modeling” and “interpretation” phases. As a consequence, students are poorly educated in the proper use of computers. The fault lies not with the computer, but with the way that structural analysis is taught. Basic Education for a Structural Engineer (April 2007 STRUCTURE) proposed a course content for structural analysis. The proposed content emphasizes hand calculation methods such as Moment Distribution and Slope Deflection, and mentions computers only once. In my opinion it is outdated, and it perpetuates the problem noted above. This article proposes a solution, in the form of an outline for a much different course content with a different set of outcomes. This course content places much greater emphasis on the effective use of computers.

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Part 1 issues Part 2 solutions

These papers are for those teaching finite element method in university. I clearly remember one professor writing on the black board lot's of equations for about 3 hours and in the end while looking at the long waited results he was saying: "Oops I did it again, a mistake at some point, check the book for the right version".

And for those teaching statics. I remember struggling to solve undetermined 2d frames in the 1h and 30min allowed time. It was like preparing for marathon, each time solving faster to get a better time, one mistake meant complete failure.
Fx-82ms Casio hand calculator was a 20min gain (nike sneakers instead of naked feet). It was the difference between marks, between students, some had Texas Instruments TI-32, not everybody afforded that Casio.

Mr. Powell decided to criticise all this, so to all professors read and think how well prepared are your students for real world projects after learning from you all the stuff you never use or need in practice (which is the real thing casualties material losses).

With so many doctors there's nobody sick in this world.
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