I don't disagree. It has been my main point since joining Excelcalc's. It is far easier to start with a blank sheet and trusted textbook than to work through someone elses spreadsheet or program source code.
As for the authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ), they are not meant to check my calculations, that I would perceive as negligence. The requirement of the AHJ is to check that the building proposal as presented in the specification is compliant with the building code and its referenced standards. Therefore unless there is a dispute, I do not need to submit great detail.
Secondly codes of practice are blackboxes they are full of empirical formulae, which unlike research scientists, consulting engineers clearly do not have the laboratories to check the formulae. This most es[ecially applies to civil and structural engineers, where every oneoff creation is a real world experiment, and trust in faith that all the theory is valid. At the end of the day we take a piece of timber, load it until it breaks, and then hope that a similar piece of timber will not break when subject to lower loading. We use mathematical theory to make this judgement. But we do not have to plug numbers into the formula for an infinite variety of situations. Experience from prior calculations informs, and in any other industry would suffice to move forward. But building and construction clearly uses smoke and mirrors to generate paranoia. Clear detailed calculations are important, but not repetition, there is the individual learning, the enterprise learning, the industry learning, and society learning.
The building approval system doesn't work because of the current calculations susbmitted. It works because the people on the approving side have already approved a thousand similar buildings, the built environment is full of what should be, or what should be improved upon. It doesn't take too many calculations,to determine the limitations of available materials. In the days of pencil paper, a lot more experimental graphs and tables, as well as calculated tables were published. People just didn't have the time to expend completing detailed calculations, buildings needed constructing.
For that matter who sits down and calculates every single section property for commercially available structural sections, people use the manufacturers publications. For coldformed sections designers use the load capacity tables published by manufacturers. There is a lot that is relied upon. How many experiments successfully verified theory at university, versus those experiments which had to be explained as defective technique? If the theories are that sensitive to experimental process then they are not very reliable for use in the building and construction industry.
My argument is that the ancient architects and civil engineers were builders, the modern versions deal increasingly with abstractions, whilst builders are increasingly deficient in design, planning and organisational skills which leads to on site accidents, and death. The output of the regulatory design process is a productspecification, but seldomly is any one responsible for developing a processspecification, except may be under the UK CDM regulations. If engineers are expending time producing calculations to reach conclusions, they already know from an understanding of the theory, then they are part of the problem. They could be spending their time on something more useful: like changing the design so that it is easier and safer to build.
So in the UK they have complained about the CDM regulations arguing it requires more time. I say it doesn't because they have been and are currently wasting time on calculations determining that which they should already know, unless really are dealing with an innovative building, but very little of that takes place.
Collectively the engineering profession could generate more prescriptive preengineered solutions, and put more engineering effort where it is required. Globally around 1 billion people in need of housing. That is a major supply problem, but cannot solve the production capability problem until have a productspecification for the range of products to be supplied. Structural engineers calculating point values cause delays in supply.
Structural models are extreme simplifications of real world systems, the one model is applicable to a multitude of real world systems. The real task is knowing when that model ceases to be applicable.
I guess my real issue is that the modern engineer has become to heavily tied up in mathematics, or more to the point arthimetic, and has ever diminishing competence and interest in design.
The computer as taken the engineer away from expending time with arithmetical calculations, which historically didn't really do any way, because used experimentally derived design charts/graphs. Having reduced the time, expended on arithmetic calculations, the engineers have simply magnified the number of calculations they do, but without adding any value. Further since the modern engineer is not a builder like say Telford, in many instances they have little real interest in the practicality of construction, say like Navier. Result increasingly buildings are collapsing during construction, and they are not entirely innovative or novel designs.
I believe the cause is being blinkered by calculating point values, rather than understanding the mathematical relationships and calculating and graphing limitations. Relationships and limitations which were more clearly apparent in the old codes, which published graphs.
Seeing the mathematical formula and substituted numbers doesn't tell me anything. Substituting numbers into the formula I know to be valid and calculating the result tells me what I need to know. In the past when involved with checking designs, I attempted to work through the hand written scribble of others calcualtions, but once I was told what my task was, I through such away and checked from first principles. And since I have excel workbooks for just about everything I need, or create as needed, I know for certain I completed more detailed assessment of the proposal in a mere fraction of the time taken by the original designer. And since most of what I do is highly repetitive, I can just look at builders proposals and say it doesn't comply. The mathematics doesn't help with arguing with a builder, knowing limitations and real differences does.
If you see it as oneoff, then the design is oneoff. If you see it has repetitive then it is repetitive. It is repetitive, thats why we could be taught techniques for design and evaluation.
I am not saying produce calculations without detail: Just that different audiences have different requirements. Mathematical algebraic notation, with substituted values was important on paper, because it was part of the process of reaching an answer. With a computer that is not the case, and engineering calculations are carried out for a purpose, so can concentrate on the purpose rather than the presentation of the calculation.
Its the same with statistics, do you want to see all the raw data, straight away or just the summary statistics like the mean and standard deviation. The summary causes you to ask questions and seek out the detail. If you dive into the detail, its a confusing mess, a blurr, from which you attempt to dig out the critical points. You waste time reading the whole set of calculations when only need the conclusion.
Any case each individual needs to decide for themselves. Also conducting detailed calculations in the background is not the same as totally ignoring and avoiding the calculations.
And as jpriley485 says, the detail can be forth coming if needed. In other words diversity is the key, having a variety of different presentations for different purposes and audiences.
Sorry for long winded posts: I have an idea that is not very clear yet. When it is it will be concise, and then have a problem regarding the detailed meanings of words: thus leading others to search out the detail. Get the picture: I even don't even want to read my detail.
