Use Technology to Boost Your Career

The New Reality

Virtual reality, augmented reality, design automation, and robotic construction are poised to revolutionize the way that engineers go about designing, constructing, and monitoring infrastructure projects. Read More. 

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How Do I Stay Current with Technology as a Civil Engineer?

As civil engineers, we tend to get caught up in the details of our projects. This can make it hard to stay aware of the ever-changing landscape of technology.

However, it is very important for civil engineers, especially managers and leaders, to stay up to date on new technology and avoid losing ground to competitors who have already implemented cutting-edge tools.

Also, new technology often saves you time, ensuring that your projects remain as profitable as possible. That being said, with the rapid advancements in today’s world, how is it possible to stay current?

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Adapting to New Technology in the Workplace

Change is inevitable, especially in the engineering field. Read a practicing civil engineers’ firsthand experience on the importance of adapting to new technology.

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Don’t Fear the Future

Listen to civil engineers talk about the benefits of technology and the ones that excite them most.  

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10 Tips on Innovation

Need inspiration? Get insight from ASCE’s Innovation Contest winners.

Share Your Thoughts

Want to learn about other engineering software? Check out this thread on the differences between Enercalc, Tedds, and Struware. Or this thread on learning new software. 

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Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

  • 1.  Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-25-2018 09:49 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-25-2018 09:48 AM
    I am curious what programs other structural engineers prefer to use when creating calculation sheets for repeated use. I have used Mathcad extensively for calculations in the past and have thought that it works beautifully to create re-usable, well-documented calculations. However, I realize that many other engineers use and prefer programs such as Tedds or Excel spreadsheets. What are your preferences for creating calculation sheets?

    ------------------------------
    Ethan Maust EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Indianapolis, IN
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 10:38 AM
    Hi Ethan!

    I usually use Wolfram Mathematica, but is almost the same as MathCad. However, sometimes I prefer to use excell for simplicity.

    ------------------------------
    Fabricio Ortiz
    Honduras
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 10:39 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-26-2018 10:38 AM
    well in Nepal most of us prefer to use Excel sheets and they are really easier to understand. I am not sure whether it is faster or not but its obviously loved by every engineer here in Nepal

    ------------------------------
    Niraj Sapkota S.M.ASCE
    Parbat
    9841241995
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 10:40 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-26-2018 10:39 AM
    Hi,

    For regular design purposes, there are mainly two options:
    1. Commercially available software e.g. Tedds, Prokon, etc.
    2. User developed programs (or in-house programs) e.g. Excel, MathCad, etc.

    Each have their own advantages and dis-advantages.

    The commercial software are well validated and uses up-to-date code provisions but they come with certain limitations - you can not customize them to suit your atypical design scenarios. Of course, these come with license fees.

    The user developed ones can be customized to suit any number of scenarios but before you use them - you need to (prepare them and) validate them; and complex program development takes time before its ripe. Also, if any code provision changes -  you need to go back and re-work on the program. Also, you need to work on the security part of the in-house item in order to make sure that they do not get corrupted.

    ------------------------------
    Arunangshu NathSarkar, CEng MICE | CEng MIE (I) | M.ASCE
    Senior Structural Engineer
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 10:41 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-26-2018 10:40 AM
    Hello,
    Ever since computers were introduced in Nepal and engineers started using them, leaving slide rules and then manual calculators and then the electronic calculators behind, I have been using excel to prepare cost estimates. For colleagues like you it may sound strange that I didn't even know that other programs existed and could be used to prepare cost estimates and similar calculations.
    So excel is the only program I use and know about.

    ------------------------------
    Peter Singh M.ASCE
    Managing Director
    Kingdom Designers
    Birganj
    9779855020043
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 10:41 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-26-2018 10:40 AM
    I have used Excel or equivalent for decades and have over 200 spreadsheets.  I can take a thumb drive of my spreadsheets to nearly any office and find a computer to use them.

    ------------------------------
    David Kittridge P.E., M.ASCE
    Principal Eng
    Maitland FL
    (407) 647-8457
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-29-2018 03:17 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-29-2018 03:16 PM
    I use Tedds and write my own calculations in Tedds for Word. There is no commercial software that does what I want to do. I used to use MathCad and Excel, but Tedds is better. Tedds allows user created dialogs with data checking, so you can be certain that you update every variable for every new engineering situation.

    MathCad Prime did not implement many functions that I needed at first, and I was unable to translate most of the Mathcad sheets that I had developed to Mathcad Prime. In Excel, it is too easy to put the wrong formula in, and no easy way to tell if it is wrong or if someone changed it. In both Mathcad and Excel, it is easy to forget to update a variable leading to incorrect answers.

    BTW, Tedds for Word links to Excel, so for problems which are better solved in spreadsheet form, I can link them into my Tedds sheet.

    ------------------------------
    William Kirkham P.E., S.E., M.ASCE
    Director MCE Program
    The University of Kansas
    Overland Park KS
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 10:41 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-26-2018 10:41 AM
    ​EXCEL is the preference in our office due to its simplicity of use and editing.  We usually create a spreadsheet and then send it to other engineers for their critical review and input.  ENERCALC is another tool that performs most of your everyday tasks and it is updated frequently.

    ------------------------------
    Alex Rochell P.E., M.ASCE
    Principal
    Coral Gables FL
    (786) 543-4263
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 10:41 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-26-2018 10:41 AM
    Here in India we mostly rely on Excel sheet for the calculation because of its simplicity to use, create and formatting without having much knowledge about programming.

    ------------------------------
    Mohan Bhalme S.M.ASCE
    Structural Engineer
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 10:43 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-26-2018 10:42 AM
    Excel can be integrated with Mathcad.  So you can use tables and programs embedded in your worksheets.  Excel does not handle units and that is its major downfall.  Mathcad is a blank slate that allows you to program or not program as much as you want.  I don't have experience with Tedds and do not feel the need to migrate to it because Mathcad serves most of the functions I need.

    ------------------------------
    Chad Morrison P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI

    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 10:43 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-26-2018 10:43 AM
    ​I prefer Excel, it is easier to reduce the amount of paper to be printed, that also comes with Office eliminating an additional software license. Mathcad is more intuitive and self explanatory, but it will produce a document with too many pages. I know Mathcad for researchers and students is probably the best option to learn, but on the Engineering companies; Excel is used more than Mathcad.

    ------------------------------
    Roberto Nava Cuellar P.E., M.ASCE
    KBR MONTERREY S. A. DE C. V.
    Monterrey, Nuevo Leon
    5281 41626756
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 10:44 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-26-2018 10:43 AM
    I have used all and I like them all for certain aspects.  I think the readability of mathcad is the best out of the 3 however I use excel the most.  My reason behind this is because its what everyone in my office knows and has access to.  If I do work on a problem in a program during design and someone else takes over the project for some reason, I want to ensure that the individual can take advantage of the work I have already performed.  Also, if I am away from the office at a meeting or on a construction site I can access these calcs on my phone and make changes on the fly based on field conditions or changes made during meetings.

    ------------------------------
    Justin Kordas EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Design Engineer
    McNamara Salvia Structual Engineers
    Boston MA
    (617)850-4185
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 10:44 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-26-2018 10:43 AM
    We at our office mostly use Tedds/Mathcad. Tedds has a more professional look when when you use Tedds for word. I had used Excel in my previous workplace. Off the three my preference is Tedds.

    ------------------------------
    Ashraful Alam P.E., M.ASCE
    Project Engineer
    W-T Structural Engineering, LLC
    Hoffman Estates IL
    (224)293-6392
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 10:45 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-26-2018 10:44 AM
    Here excel is being extensively used for computational purposes . As u know, changing a particular value of a part changes the result completely hence excel is used. And it is also easy to understand for us in future.

    ------------------------------
    Praveen Anand S.M.ASCE
    Chennai TN
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 10:46 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-26-2018 10:46 AM
    I use Mathcad for our company design calculations that we run for our different projects. Mathcad allows for nice a flow and able to keep the units neat and orderly. Also with the many functions within Mathcad allowing to insert different files, such as excel to help with data control is a nice feature.
    Excel is nice for data collection, but the downside to it is making sure to keep all the units straight and conversions applied to each cell for a calculation.
    Mathcad is helpful that it keeps the units and has the ability to convert between different design processes (US to Metric) with ease. From all of the built in features, Mathcad is a great tool to use for calculating/analyzing structures and structural members.

    ------------------------------
    Timothy Lang EI, A.M.ASCE
    Staff Engineer
    Elkhart IN
    (574)533-0337 EXT 109
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 10:47 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-26-2018 10:46 AM
    ​Ethan,

    I try to use Excel exclusively.  I find that Mathcad does not show the constituent numbers of equations easily.  Only the variable names are automatically shown.  This makes Mathcad sheets more difficult to document and check.  In Excel, we setup sheets that have all formulas built to the right of the result.  We wrote macros to format cells with plus signs, minus signs etc so that the calculation looks like a hand written calculation that can be checked.  By doing it this way, we avoid Excel "black box" formulas hidden in cells.  All of our sheets have calculations essentially written out in long hand and documented as you would a hand-written calc.

    Brian Brenner

    Principal

    Direct: 857-415-3912
    [email protected]

    Stantec
    226 Causeway Street 6th Floor Boston MA 02114-2155 US



    ------------------------------
    Brian Brenner P.E., F.ASCE
    Sharon MA
    (857)415-3912
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 11:16 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-26-2018 11:15 AM
    ​My company uses Mathcad extensively for structural design.  We rarely use Excel for calculations, the formulas are hidden and not as easy to work with.

    We have created many worksheet templates.  I find Mathcad useful for individual calculations and rarely do any by hand on paper.  It's just too easy to revise and reuse Mathcad worksheets.  One revision on paper takes time while Mathcad recalculates on its own.

    ------------------------------
    Lawrence Tabat P.E., S.E., M.ASCE
    ARCADIS U.S., Inc.
    White Plains NY
    (914) 641-2830
    ------------------------------



  • 18.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 12:03 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-26-2018 12:03 PM
    I cannot speak for Tedds as I have not used it before. I agree that Mathcad is a very versatile program and is rather simple to learn, but every firm is going to have Excel simply because the Microsoft Suite is a basic necessity.

    ------------------------------
    Gabriel Amaya EIT, A.M.ASCE
    NK Bhandari Archit. and Engg.
    Syracuse NY
    (315)428-1177
    ------------------------------



  • 19.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 02:57 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-26-2018 02:57 PM
    I used EXCEL in a variety of applications. It worked even for complex cases

    ------------------------------
    Neil Kazen F.ASCE
    Structural Design Manager Transportation Division
    Toronto ON
    ------------------------------



  • 20.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 02:59 PM
    I used EXCEL in a variety of applications. It worked even for complex cases

    ------------------------------
    Neil Kazen F.ASCE
    Structural Design Manager Transportation Division
    Toronto ON
    ------------------------------



  • 21.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-26-2018 04:14 PM
    I prefer Mathcad too. Tedds does the similar as Mathcad. Both Mathcad and Tedds are easier to check and to repeat the calculation. This can't be done by Excel explicitly since the equations are behind the pages.

    ------------------------------
    Hengfeng Wang A.M.ASCE
    Struct Engr
    HOK
    New York NY
    (646)385-7600
    ------------------------------



  • 22.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-27-2018 10:02 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-27-2018 10:02 AM
    Thank you, everyone, for your input! This is very helpful for me to hear and consider.

    ------------------------------
    Ethan Maust EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Indianapolis IN
    (574)361-0988
    ------------------------------



  • 23.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-27-2018 10:03 AM
    For Structural engineers Trimble Tedds is the way forward, you can wright calcs in a similar way to MathsCad but Tedds also has a vast array of pre-written calcs.

    In the UK around 80% (from memory there is a paper on this some where, form a UK context only) of Structural Eng. that work on the building construction industry use Tedds




    ------------------------------
    Andrew Livingstone S.M.ASCE
    Edinburgh
    441506 655466
    ------------------------------



  • 24.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-28-2018 09:56 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-28-2018 09:55 AM
    How easy or difficult is Tedds or Mathcad to learn and practice? If somebody could help me learn. I am willing to be mentored.

    ------------------------------
    Peter Singh M.ASCE
    Managing Director
    Kingdom Designers
    Birganj
    9779855020043
    ------------------------------



  • 25.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-27-2018 10:06 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-27-2018 10:05 AM
    Mathcad is used to create and reuse most of the standard design elements and its easier for adoption. It also proves easy for any new trainees who would like to understand every step in a calculation. Mathcad presentation is standard and plain and troubleshooting mistakes <g class="gr_ gr_1947 gr-alert gr_gramm gr_inline_cards gr_run_anim Grammar multiReplace" id="1947" data-gr-id="1947">is</g> easier.
    Excel sheets are developed to take advantage of macros and VB scripts. This is universally acceptable, but the downside is verification of the calculation steps or revalidation since the calculation steps happen background. The presentation is more appealing to Mathcad.

    Though TEDDS is limited to its library and customization, its presentation is more professional and detailed. TEDDS library includes all major international codes and region, yet its <g class="gr_ gr_2154 gr-alert gr_spell gr_inline_cards gr_run_anim ContextualSpelling ins-del multiReplace" id="2154" data-gr-id="2154">British</g> and <g class="gr_ gr_2170 gr-alert gr_spell gr_inline_cards gr_run_anim ContextualSpelling ins-del multiReplace" id="2170" data-gr-id="2170">eurocode</g> are extensive. The detailed predefined steps are easier for the engineer on record or reviewer to review and understand.

    So in brief:
    <g class="gr_ gr_2236 gr-alert gr_gramm gr_inline_cards gr_run_anim Style multiReplace" id="2236" data-gr-id="2236">MathCad :</g> ease to develop spreadsheets, transparent steps, automated with equation formula/symbol etc.
    Excel : Industry standard, easily accessible by almost all with Microsoft office installed, Presentable, use of scripts.
    TEDDS : Professional looking calculation notepad. minimum inputs, detailed calculation steps, minimal effort on revalidation required, commercial software.

    ------------------------------
    Shyam Sundar C.Eng, M.ASCE, MIE,
    Principal Structural Engineer
    QDC, Doha
    ------------------------------



  • 26.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 06-28-2018 09:55 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 06-28-2018 09:55 AM
    ​Excel is my personal preference.  You can tailor it to your project and set it up so inputs and results fit on just a page or two for multiple designs (ie. a number of beams, or a number of variable conditions for  a retaining wall).  Seeing all the results on the same page also helps sanity check the results as well as helps a project's checker cross check the analysis with the design drawings more easily. As for hidden formulas, you can set up cells to calculate results two different ways (for example), giving you confidence that something is not missed if both cells come up with the same result (I do the same for financial spreadsheets).

    Enercalc is nice for quick calcs, especially if you need to play around with variables.  Nice concise output; the only drawback is that the output is a bit 'black box' without documentation of the underlying calcs.  I have found errors in the past which have presumably been fixed - the moral being that like any software you need to sanity check it yourself.  It's very intuitive and user friendly.

    Tedds, on the other hand, documents calcs in painful detail.  Too often engineers - when asked for calcs - hand over volumes of overly detailed Tedds calcs.  As a checker, a few times I've seen resulting designs from TEDDS calcs that seemed questionable (an overly large pile cap for instance, compared to typical ones).  My recollection is that some variable was misapplied in the calc that caused the cap to keep getting larger and larger until it 'worked'; the calc missed something like an upper limit for the variable.  Admittedly, that can also happen with spreadsheets or other software.  My concern with software like this, though, is that people see the volumes of documentation and assume that it must be correct since it's so well documented and detailed, and don't bother checking or sanity checking it themselves.

    Haven't used Mathcad.

    Greg Thein

    ------------------------------
    Greg Thein, PE
    Cleveland, OH
    ------------------------------



  • 27.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 07-07-2018 10:05 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 07-07-2018 10:05 AM
    Try to try-out several choices and just see which one you prefer for the particular task before you. Chances are that you will prefer different choices for different types of problems.
    For whatever it's worth, my preference is Excel(R) because I can break-down a serial calculation to it's simplest elements, each in different columns, test it with a simplified problem for which I have calculated all the lowest order values, then combine them incrementally, to get the final result to match the known final number(s), or readily go back to check where differences occurred.  (i.e.: I try to idiot-proof it from the outset)
    Then, I change the widths of the detail columns to zero, and keep the most important columns at full-widths.  That way, if in follow-on usage I get a questionable result, I can still go back, widen all the detail columns back out, and figure more readily which one(s) went wrong.
    A lot of this depends on what your personal preferences are in de-buging techniques, not just problem-solution techniques.

    In any case, hopefully you enjoy problem-solving at least a little bit more now.

    ------------------------------
    Kirby Arriola P.E., M.ASCE
    RETIREE
    Oxnard CA
    (805) 485-3579
    ------------------------------



  • 28.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 08-16-2018 11:22 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 08-16-2018 11:21 AM
    Many great suggestions! Lots of awesome knowledge. Another program to add to the plethora of suggestions will be Autocad. It's primarily used for design and drawing. This can be beneficial for the creative department in civil engineering. For computations as a student, I use wolfram Alpha. Wolfram Alpha is more of a tedious and lengthy process. Inputs are done individually. Constantly returning to the home page for the next input is a hassle.
    Hope this helps!

    ------------------------------
    Mike Echevarria S.M.ASCE
    B.S Civil Engineering Undergraduate
    Houston TX
    [[email protected]]
    [[email protected]]
    ------------------------------



  • 29.  RE: Tedds/Mathcad/Excel - Preferences?

    Posted 08-17-2018 02:04 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 08-17-2018 02:04 PM
    I used Excel in a wide range of design and tracking applications. I like its simplicity, versatility and it is easy to verify.
    Applications included fairly involved calculations such as concrete shear design according to Canadian standards (with variable angle of diagonal shear fracture).

    ------------------------------
    Neil Kazen F.ASCE
    Retired Structural Design Manager
    Toronto ON
    ------------------------------