A Possible Paradigm

by Brian Brenner, (M.ASCE), Senior Structural Engineer; Parsons Brinckerhoff, Boston, MA,
Thom Neff, Senior Associate; Parsons Brinckerhoff, Boston, MA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1990, Vol. 60, Issue 10, Pg. 85-87

Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: `We work only on a lump sum basis, with work guaranteed on time, and no extras. We help you define the scope of work, using our experience and unmatched computerized databases, then guarantee the rest: scope, deliverables, schedule, and budget. Noble & Jones has never disappointed a client.' This brash paragraph, discreetly tucked at the end of their slick 1998 corporate brochure, had piqued my curiosity. Now, I had to see for myself. I had heard rumors of an engineer-and-client Shangri-la: a consulting firm that fused innate employee intelligence with state-of-the-art computers into an operation that produced the best engineering around—and earned a lot of money in the bargain. What could they do with my project? They showed me data bases from satellite sources, geophysical surveys and geographical, soil science, agriculture science and mining sources. Their software tapped into and coded them into a relational database that models the earth's surface to a depth of a few hundred feet. Their 3-D highway software handled layout, plan and profile, and generates sections, cut and fill, and mass haul. Basically, they had streamlined the grunt work. They could test and study dozens of options quickly. In two hours, they can carry a design to a level of detail that used to take months.

Subject Headings: Automation | Computer aided design | Computer aided drafting | Computer applications | Databases | Engineering | Engineering profession |

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