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Tutor profile: Emily G.

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Emily G.
Georgia Tech Civil Engineering Grad and Formwork Engineer
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Questions

Subject: Civil Engineering

TutorMe
Question:

Why do structures collapse?

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Emily G.
Answer:

This subject is sticky, and legal implications abound in every single case. What we all know though, is that it is unacceptable. Often failure is the result of a casual decision or incomplete inspection, or, at worst, an inspection recommendation gone unheeded. Take, for example, the i35 West bridge collapse in 2007 resulting in 13 deaths. The first mistake was in using gusset plates that were too thin. Absolutely no material can be casually regarded or replaced in the design or construction process. The second mistake was, in inspection, the gusset plates were to adequately inspected. Again, nothing can be casually regarded when human lives are on the line. In my failure analysis course, we saw a photo of bowing of the gusset plates, identified from a routine inspection. The third factor was high construction loading on the day of collapse resulting in the catastrophic failure, deaths and injuries. As a civil engineer, you have to understand that nothing you do in work can be casually regarded.

Subject: Construction

TutorMe
Question:

How do I read plans, making sense of a bunch of random lines on a big sheet of paper?

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Emily G.
Answer:

First of all, it seems random and chaotic at first. That is normal. Start with the basics: gridlines. You will have a series of lines denoted by numbers or letters that form a grid. Anything in that building will be referenced from the gridlines. You may have a wall corner that is 2’-5.375” plan-west of gridline A and 6” plan-south of gridline 8. These lines will marked and well-known on site. Next, you have lines. Every line type means something different. Wall-lines, Edge of Slab lines, column lines, etc. These are all drawn in different layers in AutoCAD, and while the lines may be hard to distinguish on paper, you can always find out what they are by reading labels or finding sections in the plans. You will eventually get used to the shapes and know what most things are at first glance. Those basics are the best place to start.

Subject: 2D Design

TutorMe
Question:

How can I go from empty space in AutoCAD to a detailed design for an entire level or building?

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Emily G.
Answer:

First of all, when you start, you won’t have a blank sheet. You will be dropped in somewhere in the design process between concept and execution. In my field, we get plans from the architect and structural engineer, and repeat the design in our format, finding discrepancies and coming up with a cohesive plan for each level. We then draw our design with a series of calcs that back up every single square inch. It can seem overwhelming in school, but once you find your niche in the system of design and construction, you realize that you have a specific job in an already pre-designed, thousands year-old process.

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