American Society of Civil Engineers

Connection Details—Practicing Engineers and the Code

by C. Wilcox, S.E., (Vice President, MWH Americas Inc., Walnut Creek, CA 94596. E-mail:, B. Nuttall, S.E., (Associate Professor, Architectural Engineering Department, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407. E-mail:, and T. Barnett, S.E., (Partner, Hanson Professional Services Inc., Rockford, IL 61108. E-mail:
Section: Business and Professional Practice, pp. 1086-1097, (doi:

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: Structures Congress 2011
Abstract: There is widespread concern among practicing engineers that the clarity and usability of the building codes have radically diminished as the size and complexity of the codes have increased. One tool for assessing the ability of practicing engineers to consistently and reliably implement the code is the use of Trial Design Problems. The Trial Design Problem process consists of (a) developing a common engineering problem, (b) enlisting practicing engineers to complete the engineering problem using the code, (c) evaluating the engineering solutions submitted by practicing engineers, and (d) conveying the results of the problems to the engineering community and code development committees. The Design Practices Committee has recently completed evaluating two different Design Problems. One design problem was for the application of ACI 318 Appendix D cracked concrete anchor bolt design. The second problem was the analysis and detailing specification of Wall-to-Roof anchorage in masonry construction intended to be per ACI 530-08. These problems have exhibited and proved that new code sections are routinely misinterpreted or not applied by practicing engineers. The application of these important and more recently instituted code sections has proved to be a subject that can cause confusion and misapplication as will be evidenced in the session. A movement is in progress to encourage greater collaboration between Code writing authors, and application and interpretation of code sections by the practicing engineers. The purpose of this session is to present the results of these trial problems and encourage further collaboration to advance the practice of structural engineering as it relates to code interpretation and design of elements and components. The objective is to improve clarity regarding current issues in the profession such as application of code sections, the complexity of codes and their detailed application. Presentations will introduce these topics, allowing time for comments, questions, and further discussion with members of the audience in attendance.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Standards and codes
Professional practice