I'm a civil/struct. design engineer. For most of my (long) career I
was using manual paper/pencil/calculator (or slide rule, if anybody
still remembers it). Lately, for complex structures I use commercial
FEM software. Sometimes I use 3-rd party calculation software (such as
PCACOL). But whenever I could I prefer to make my own calculations
programmed in Excel with sketches made by Excel's Drawing tools. With
due respect to the old and trusty paper/pencil approach (fast,
straightforward, and many times unavoidable) electronically prepared
calc's present obvious advantages. I know many of my fellow engineers
use Excel also.

Design calculations as a part of project documentation are not as respected as drawings. Made on paper they are often lost in filings and dusty archives. They are rarely used second time (unless a lawyer needs it, save us God). How many times I was trying to re-use a drawing to find eventually that I have to repeat design calculations! Database of electronic calc's can be searchable and calc's could be easily re-calculated for new conditions. That is just one example… Any other ideas?

How do I do it: Firstly, for a company I work (I'm a contractor) I prepare an Excel template of a Design Calculation form sheet which I use for all calc's.

I prefer (or time pressed?) to use simplified and fast approach to Excel spreadsheet programming – using only formulas and general tricks (not VBA, although I promise to try). I textually describe all my logics as full as possible and type all formulas as text. This would make life easier for anyone checking or using it again. Otherwise, it is generally follows format of a manual design. At one time I was playing with MathType and Equation Editor but they are only typesetting programs and to make text look nice takes too much time. I'm still searching for a way to type a formula in a usual math format and not to re-type it in the formula bar. Any ideas?

I am using Excel's Drawing Tools (View-Toolbars-Drawing) to illustrate the calculations and make sketches. As far as I know, not many engineers take advantage of these tools. I'm convinced that making sketches with calc's is very important. When I first started making sketches it took quite a time, but with practice it became much faster. Now it takes the same time as making a sketch manually. There are a lot of time saving tricks in Excel Drawing – which could be mastered with practice. I think there are needs for some improvements (or adjustments) of Drawing Tools… but I will come to do it later. Checking other graphic software (importing AutoCAD, for example) shows that Excel's Drawing is the most practical and easy approach.

As with everything else, the more you use Excel the easier and faster it became.

Any ideas, suggestions, comments, personal observations….?

Simon Goykhman, Toronto snipped-for-privacy@rogers.com

Design calculations as a part of project documentation are not as respected as drawings. Made on paper they are often lost in filings and dusty archives. They are rarely used second time (unless a lawyer needs it, save us God). How many times I was trying to re-use a drawing to find eventually that I have to repeat design calculations! Database of electronic calc's can be searchable and calc's could be easily re-calculated for new conditions. That is just one example… Any other ideas?

How do I do it: Firstly, for a company I work (I'm a contractor) I prepare an Excel template of a Design Calculation form sheet which I use for all calc's.

I prefer (or time pressed?) to use simplified and fast approach to Excel spreadsheet programming – using only formulas and general tricks (not VBA, although I promise to try). I textually describe all my logics as full as possible and type all formulas as text. This would make life easier for anyone checking or using it again. Otherwise, it is generally follows format of a manual design. At one time I was playing with MathType and Equation Editor but they are only typesetting programs and to make text look nice takes too much time. I'm still searching for a way to type a formula in a usual math format and not to re-type it in the formula bar. Any ideas?

I am using Excel's Drawing Tools (View-Toolbars-Drawing) to illustrate the calculations and make sketches. As far as I know, not many engineers take advantage of these tools. I'm convinced that making sketches with calc's is very important. When I first started making sketches it took quite a time, but with practice it became much faster. Now it takes the same time as making a sketch manually. There are a lot of time saving tricks in Excel Drawing – which could be mastered with practice. I think there are needs for some improvements (or adjustments) of Drawing Tools… but I will come to do it later. Checking other graphic software (importing AutoCAD, for example) shows that Excel's Drawing is the most practical and easy approach.

As with everything else, the more you use Excel the easier and faster it became.

Any ideas, suggestions, comments, personal observations….?

Simon Goykhman, Toronto snipped-for-privacy@rogers.com