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Civil-Comp Proceedings
ISSN 1759-3433
CCP: 4/5
Edited by: B.H.V. Topping
Paper I.1

Computers in Structural Engineering Practice: The Issue of Quality

L. Emkin

GTICES Systems Laboratory. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Full Bibliographic Reference for this paper
L. Emkin, "Computers in Structural Engineering Practice: The Issue of Quality", in B.H.V. Topping, (Editor), "Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Civil and Structural Engineering Computing", Civil-Comp Press, Edinburgh, UK, pp 1-7, 1987. doi:10.4203/ccp.4.1.1
In recent years there have been dramatic changes both in the cost of computing and the ease of access to engineering software. Concomitant with these changes is the immense growth of the number of available engineering computer software products.

Such growth in numbers of affordable and easily accessible computers and computer programs has created a particularly difficult dilemma for the average engineer. On the one hand, every engineer can easily afford to become involved with the computer. The well known benefits of higher productivity, the ability to solve more complex problems with greater accuracy, the ability to practice with state-of-the-art techniques of analysis and design, and many others are now affordable by all engineers. On the other hand, however, there are very dangerous problems related to the engineering use of computers. Among these various problems, by far the most potentially dangerous one, and the one which is the most difficult to identify, avoid, or correct, is the problem of lack of engineering software quality and reliability.

This dilemma of affordable and easy access to computing versus uncertain and dangerous problems of computer use will be a continuing one for the engineering profession. Since the computer problems can have a detrimental effect on the quality and reliability of engineering, and since the numbers of engineers involved with computers appear now to be growing uncontrollably, it is necessary to establish regular dialogue between professionals which address these issues, which expose the pitfalls, and which provide guidelines for practice that can be used to avoid serious problems.

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