Where do the Arrows Come From? Evaluating Structural Loads

by Duane S. Ellifritt, Univ of Florida,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Structures Congress XII


Two elements of an undergraduate's structural education that are not treated well in most textbooks are (1) the development of correct loads and (2) load modelling-that is, how the load applied to the roof, wall or floor surface finds its way through the system to the foundation. Students get used to seeing structural members as lines and loads as arrows with some magnitude shown at the tail. How the arrow got there and if the load is correct is usually not their concern. Just by the nature of engineering courses, it is much easier to give students the loads than to have them calculate them. And yet, I strongly believe that every student should know where that number representing a load comes from, how it was derived, and how it got to that particular member. For this reason, I spend the first two weeks in my Steel Design class discussing building codes, loading, live load reduction, and the way the externally applied load works its way through the system and to the foundation.

Subject Headings: Load factors | Live loads | Steel structures | Engineering education | Undergraduate study | Structural engineering | Building design

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