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
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
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
Any ideas, suggestions, comments, personal observations?.?
18 years ago