The boom of computers in the several past decades has made a significant impact on nearly every field of human endeavor. It’s introduced new possibilities furthermore structural engineers, whose primary task Civil Engineering Software to design buildings, bridges along with other structures. Structural design can be considered to be a mixture of science and art, since it must be great looking, yet follow the laws of material behavior simultaneously (there also additional factors, for example economical and political, having measurable effect on the ultimate design).
Prior to approximately 1960s, the structural design was accomplished primarily manually calculations, graphical and semi-graphical methods. Using the creation of computers, many repetitive design tasks could be automated and other issues with known theoretical solutions were implemented for practical use. Today you will find hundreds of structural analysis and design programs: commercial, academic, and open source; specialized and general; well-established and emerging. As the software applications enables to analyze and design advanced structures out of reach in the last era (for example cable-stayed bridge or segmental bridges), it also places higher demands on structural engineers. Ideally, they ought to become thoroughly familiar with the actual theory, clearly understand the modeling assumptions, and independently verify the computer results. Otherwise they might be compromising the security of the design. Understanding of internal software working and its assumptions is therefore essential. “Blind use” of computers may result in a loss of revenue from the “feeling for that structure”, that is one of the most essential requirement of excellent structural design.
User’s confidence within the software could be enhanced through the availability of verification examples accustomed to look into the software, by reputation of the software author, by good-quality documentation, or simply by understanding that the software enjoys widespread use. However, because the quality assurance and quality control during software development change from vendor to vendor (and software vendors specifically disclaim any responsibility for damages caused by utilizing their software), the best responsibility lies with the software user. Therefore, it is highly recommended to determine the software results “the old way”, against simplified hand calculations and engineering judgement or intuition. An excessive amount of faith in the software will have a fatal impact.
Structural software programs are an excellent servant when used wisely. It ought to be however remembered that structural design is like a mosaic made up of many pieces and computerized calculations represent only one of them. To achieve a great design, all pieces should be of top quality and must fit nicely together.