Microcad: Pushing the Limits

by Philip V. DiVietro, Managing Editior; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE, New York, NY 10017,


Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1988, Vol. 58, Issue 1, Pg. 56-58


Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: Several engineering projects are covered which illustrate the increasingly complex design applications being accomplished with microcomputer based software. A dam, an apartment complex, a channel survey, and an explosives facility are covered. Clever engineers are using microcomputers on various unwieldy projects to parcel out the work, draw difficult curves and simply save redraw and computation time. One example, outlined in the article, is the McKay Point diversion dam, part of the Calaveras project 80 miles east of Stockton, California. Accuracy in the drawing of the 246 ft high concrete arch dam would be difficult since the logarithmic spiral causes the radius and center point of each lift placement to change constantly. Using AutoCAD, a microcomputer drafting package from Autodesk Inc., together with a preprocessor called SYNTHESIS, the engineers were able to create several lift drawings with different placements, so that they could design parametrically by creating and dimensioning a drawing, rather than having to write a computer program. A drawing that would normally take one person three days to produce, could be finished using SYNTHESIS in 20 minutes. It's a real time saver for repetitive work once a complex shape is entered as a master drawing in SYNTHESIS, says Rick Sale, a civil engineer who is personal computer coordinator for Guy F. Atkinson Construction Company, of San Francisco. Eitan Agai, director of computer and CAD operations, Ammann & Whitney, feels software technology for micros has plateaued. What's important, says Agai, is how to use hardware and software properly within your environment; how to get the most out of the equipment; meet company standards; and make sure your people know what they are doing.

Subject Headings: Computer aided design | Computer aided drafting | Microcomputers

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