Using Software As a City Engineer

When I was renovating houses I never knew how involved you could get in the job on a large scale where you are building a city. If I put in a sidewalk at your house, it was a simple process that did not need any more complex of a calculation than to estimate how many yards of concrete the job would take. Now in my capacity as a city engineer, I use civil engineering software to figure out things such as the shear strength of concrete retaining walls used on highways, or to check to see if the footer design of a new building meets our codes for construction of skyscrapers in the city.

Years ago my dad worked in an office where he used a slide rule to make calculations for the same sort of information. Now I have complex software that lets me simulate different construction scenarios to come up with a design plan that is economically feasible and safe. It is a delicate balance of safety, longevity, construction costs, maintenance and aesthetics for anything that gets built in the city. We even have to make sure we do not dig up something else when we are building new stuff. You don’t want to disturb an old subway line when you are granting permits for a new building downtown.

The civil engineering software I use is very complex and lets us predict the impact of the designs we are approving or disallowing in a short period of time. I use software that does everything from pile capacity calculations to plate buckling testing without even having to test anything in real construction. The data models are so accurate that you can plug in the design for a structure and extrapolate data for any period the building will exist. I can see how the concrete and metal will perform when it is built, and I can see how it will perform when the building is 50 years old.