Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I was an Engineer Once - On Basic Design

When I first started working in a Design Department in designing Jetties, Ports and Harbours, my first project was to design a steel girder bridge linking a concrete pontoon. My mentor then was this brilliant Civil Engineer by the name of Ho Khye Gim.

I remember then that I was this hot shot Civil Engineer with proficiency of Structural Analysis and Computers and I was able to analyze and simulate any structural problem in computer matrix (the then computer programme was called Genesys).

All this was thrown out of the window, the moment I submitted my drawing and calculation to my mentor. Before I got back to my office and sat myself down, the phone extension rang, and my mentor had called me back to "discuss" the design problem. I went to this room and he chuckle to me saying that the steel bridge is under design and I shud relook at my calculation. I was flabbergasted as to how did he determine that in the space of 3-4 minutes (from the moment I gave him the drawings to me going back to my cubicle).

He sat me down and explained his hypothesis and simple beam design theory and showed me that if the tensile force calculated had been as such and dividing it by the permissible tensile strength of steel, one will get the cross member area (which happen to be bigger then what I had calculated).

From then on, I learnt the meaning of humbleness, logic and what practical experience meant and never to assume that computers is a solve all technology.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was in JKR in the same office with Ho Khye Gim. Now I am in Melbourne. I would like to contact
him. My email: nabla@bigpond.net.au
My name is C M Oi.
dated: 18-12-2009.