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|what software should a young Civil/Structural Engineer learn? by einsteino(m): 9:43pm On Jul 19|
I have been getting lots of pm asking, what software should a young Civil/Structural Engineer learn?
That would depend on a number of factors. if you work in an organised firm, the firm would narrow down your options as it would already have purchased multi-user license for a software, it is either you have proficiency in that software or you learn fast. Also you would likely have a designation that narrows your duties to a specific subject area.
On the other hand if you work for smaller firms or freelance, you would likely be allowed to choose what suits you and wouldnt get the luxury of specialising in a subject area. Nonetheless, your considerations should cover support, ease of use, intuitiveness of User interface, functions/features, learning curve, cost of software and most importantly the nature of the project at hand.
Civil engineering softwares can be grouped into the following;
Building design software: these usually are only able to handle buildings and are easier to use and comes with rudimentary detailing features. In this category you have Orion, protastructures, tekla structural designer, Etabs etc.
General Analysis/Design software: These are versatile software, they are flexible and leaves you to conceptualize whatever you fancy, while it handles the computation. You would have to be well grounded in analysis and design concepts to correctly use these. E.g STAAD PRO, Robot Structural Analysis, Midas, SAP 2000, SAFE, STAAD FOUNDATION.
Detailing suites: Most Engrs hate detailing, it is time demanding and sucks! even worse, an average joe wouldnt appreciate the effort/technicality it takes. You may be saying "but orion automatically generates details, tekla structural designer does too"..the tuth is you wouldnt dare submit their detail drawings without painstaking revising and editing it, except you dont know what you are doing or work in an environment where anything goes. atimes you would find certain details from it are just not usable and doesn't meet the standards of either your employer or client. This is where detailing suites come in, they are bespoke softwares that lets you detail in 2D whatever you wish, however you wish with the aid of intelligent codefied macros. example of these are Allplan, Cads RC, Autocad stŕuctural detailing.
Building information modelling software: These are 3D modelling suites that contains parametric data of elements of the project you have modelled, but have no capability of analysis/design. Its mainly for exporting/integrating with analysis software. they also have detailing features and are mainly used for steel projects e.g Tekla, Revit Structure, Advance steel etc.
other civil/Bespoke software: These are special need software, you may never need them depending on your career path. E.g
SACS, EPASWMM, Civil 3D, Water Gem, EPA NET, PLAXIS, ANSYS, Mstower, Tstower, All pile, CSI Bridge, PHA-PRO etc.
if you are a neophyte to CAD, start with the Building design softwares, a popular but unwise choice is Orion, you would be better off with Etabs or Tekla structural designer. when you have come up, get your teeth into Robot/Staad pro/Sap 2000 and pick either Cads Rc or ASD for your detailing needs.
to try most of the softwares out for free as a student, simply visit their website and register with your university email, you would be granted an educational license, at least for most of them.
Would learning a software make you a great engr? The answer is No! softwares only help you automate repetitive and redudant process, you need a very good grasp of the theories and principles of engineering, marrying that with proficiency in a powerful software and insights from seasoned engineers would make you a better and more productive engineer. A very good book to start with is "Three Dimensional Static and Dynamic Analysis of Structures"
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