Archive for the ‘news’ Category

Structural fears keep firefighters out of burned building

March 29th, 2007 1 comment

311xinlinegallery.jpgReported in the Houston Chronicle (March 29, 2007)

Fears about the structural integrity of a burned-out six-story office building in which three people perished are keeping firefighters from entering today to see if any more victims remain in the ruins, officials said today.

While there were no reports of anyone missing, the firefighters were waiting for an engineer to give the green light to enter the building again. Its not clear in the article what’s keeping the engineers from making their evaluatlion. I assume they’re waiting for the fire to be put out, after which they could assess if the building is dangerous. Only after this assessment could the firefighters enter the building, room by room, to complete their search for victims.

This got me thinking about a FEMA-sponsored seminar on ATC-20, for rapid post-earthquake safety evaluations of buildings, that I attended a couple years ago. The idea was to equip engineers with a framework to do effective structural evaluations quickly following a disaster. While this fire wasn’t a widespread disaster, it highlights the role of structural engineers in the recovery, following an accident or disaster. For engineers who aren’t building inspectors everyday, but spend most of their time in a design setting, I think the ATC-20 course could be useful.

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Patent Infringement Suit Over Seismic Design Settled

March 22nd, 2007 No comments

Slottedweb connectionHow often do you hear about intellectual property lawsuits when it comes to structural engineering?

The first time I heard of a patented connection, I was confused. How many ways could you attached a beam to a column? Surely all possible ways of bolting and welding had been realized by now. But then a few years ago, SidePlate came to our office to present their patented connection, and its benefits towards mitigating progressive collapse. There were applications for this system in some of the work we were doing. After many technical questions, someone in our office asked the presenter, “what kept an engineer from detailing a connection that looked like their SidePlate on their drawings,” and we were explained something about licensing requirements. It sounded trivial at the time, but obviously intellectual property was a big deal to SidePlate, as it is in all industries.

So, I was interested to read that Seismic Structural Design Associates settled a federal patent infringement suit for an undisclosed amount with WHL Consulting Engineers, over unlicensed use of SSDA’s seismic SlottedWeb field-welded connection for structural steel.

See the full story covered via ENR, A to Z of Building, and Intellectual Property Today.

Where else have you seen intellectual property related issues come up related to structural engineering?

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