Bent Feddersen, M.Sc. (Civ. Eng.), Ph.D. Senior Technical Manager – Ramboll, Copenhagen Head Office
Computers have changed the way structures are designed. Before computers, engineers were forced to think through the static systems, including simplifying them, so that calculations could be carried out. The engineer had so to follow the forces all the way through the structure, and with it having a detailed knowledge of the course of the forces. The use of computers has made it possible to model entire structures, have them calculated and get a lot of results that is difficult to overview and see through.
So, even if many young engineers are even extremely skilled at using calculation software, it becomes easy to put numbers in and take numbers out, whereby the static understanding of the structures actual behaviour easily disappears. Understanding how structures works is very important, not only to ensure reasonable behaviour, but also that the structures have the necessary safety. Therefore, it is important that the young engineers are provided with knowledge and intuition of the behaviour of structures, so that, for example, simply by looking at a structure, they can determine whether it is a sound structural principle. That is why courses in understanding structural behaviour are very important.