Structural engineering involves measuring, calculating, designing and drawing. Back when our president of the company, Julio Orbegoso, was getting started, he performed most of those tasks by hand. Mr. Orbegoso still has many files from his time as a student and engineering intern with meticulous hand-drawn designs, pages of calculations, and details drawn out on graph paper. However, with the technology boom of recent history, engineering has switched over to a predominantly digital field. While hand sketches are still done in the field, the majority of our structural engineering takes place on the computer. There are many software’s out there that specialize in engineering, and even in certain aspects of engineering. While there is not enough space to fully discuss every software, below are just a few that we like to use.
Our first and most used software is AutoCAD. AutoCAD is a 2-D and 3-D computer-aided drafting software application used in architecture, construction, and manufacturing to assist in the preparation of blueprints and other engineering plans. All engineering students learn about AutoCAD and even get experience using it in classes. That can prove helpful on the job, since our drafters and engineers spend most of there time drawing and designing in AutoCAD. AutoCAD was first released in 1982 and has grown since then with 33 major update releases. They are now available on Windows, Mac and mobile and have been aiding engineers for the past 40 years.
However, we don’t only use drafting software. We also use software to help with calculations. Calculations are critical for the design of a structure. Calculations establish the loads that a beam can carry, the force of wind necessary to bring down a mobile structure, and many other things. While hand calculations are still in play for a quick check, most calculations will be performed using software. The two programs we use the most are MecaWind and Mathcad. MecaWind is used by engineers and designers to perform wind calculations per building codes outlined by state and federal law. It also can provide calculations and graphics for all Main Wind Force Resisting System pressures on each surface. This is helpful, especially in Florida, to assess what wind pressures might be like during a hurricane and then design accordingly so the structure is strong and able to resist a storm. Mathcad also provides calculations. This program allows you to perform, analyze, and share calculations. It is generally accepted as the first computer application to automatically compute and check consistency of engineering units throughout the entire set of calculations. It can be helpful when you need to double check a number or provide full calculations to have it all drawn out in Mathcad.
There are far more engineering computer programs out there that we use, including RISA, MATLAB, CATIA and Revit, but those will have to wait for a future blog. If you have any questions about the programs we use or have a project in mind that could use these programs, drop us a comment or give us a call and we’ll be happy to help with whatever engineering you might need.
More to come soon.