How do you Engineer?
One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is working with some really smart people. They come from different parts of Europe and wider afield, and aside from the cultural differences, there are also some really interesting differences in engineering. These tend not to be fundamental, but typically rather subtle differences, that are promoted by the different academic schools of thought in each country.
The various National perspectives on what constitutes an acceptable factor of safety in a design is just one example of the differences in engineering approach. The basis of these differences tends to be partly philosophical; historical and most significantly: due to the types of problems, soil conditions and quality of survey data encountered in each country.
Another good example is the difference between the UK and Denmark when defining Ultimate Limit State (ULS) conditions. In the UK, there is a school of thought that argues for the collapse ULS should be defined by the point at which the soil body no longer exhibits elastic behavior. In Denmark, students are taught that collapse occurs once a failure surface has developed and the stress distribution is fully plastic along the failure surface or rupture plane. Depending on your design approach, both of these are valid points of view.
Discussions centered on these sometimes divergent perspectives are entertaining, educational and a good source of inspiration. One of these discussions seems to be making it into consciousness of the wider engineering community. Continue reading “Performance Based Design: More Grist to the ‘Limit Analysis’ Mill”