I was talking with a fellow silver-haired, or more correctly, grey-haired fellow the other day about the good old days. It seems that structural engineering, like life in general, gets more complex year by year. When I started out in the business the thought of reinforcing masonry was a new concept, wind design was applied only to tall buildings, and a computer was something that the giant firms and universities had access to. Most contractors did the majority of the work themselves, requiring only a few subcontractors. My engineering class was the first class to require a hand held calculator, costing upwards of $200; who knows what that would mean in today’s dollars. It was a different time and so much has changed.
There have been a lot of positives in the time since I have begun the practice of engineering. The computers have revolutionized economies in design and drafting and communication avenues are better and faster, but are we building better structures? In some ways yes and in some ways no, but I am sure each generation will look back to the days of yore. I wonder what the next generation will have to say about the good old days.
Carter Sinclair, April 1987